There is nothing like a British boy with a guitar, tight jeans and a head of brown curls to make girls and boys lose their minds. From the moment he strolled onto the stage, Kooks frontman Luke Pritchard had the audience under his thumb, to quote another famous British band. There is a quiet confidence to him—never cocky but never surprised when he leans over the edge of the stage and the outstretched hands of crowd members begin to grab frantically for a piece of his red V-neck. Of course, the accent doesn’t hurt either.
Listening to a Kooks record is fun—there really isn’t another word for it. The foursome plays guitar-fueled Britpop for people who still believe that pop music should be raw and doesn’t need any bells and whistles to make you want to dance. In person, watching the Kooks is nothing short of pure joy. Pritchard’s voice is as clear and vibrant on a stage as it is in a recording studio, and drummer Chris Prendergast never showed signs of tiring as he kept the rhythm through the hour-long set, his perfectly swooped bangs never once falling in front of his face—a true talent.
While guitarist Hugh Harris sported a dark suit jacket while showcasing some keyboard skills and bassist Peter Denton added some vocals at center stage on “Saboteur,” a track from the band’s upcoming third album, Junk Of The Heart, it was Pritchard alone who controlled the room. With a simple pointing of a finger to the balcony or a single spoken word, he was able to push the crowd from energetic to chaotic. He didn’t say much between songs, but he didn’t need to, and the audience didn’t care whether he was singing an older hit or an unknown new song—they clapped along willingly no matter what.
When the set ended with “Stormy Weather,” the crowd refused to follow the band’s lead and exit. Pritchard returned to center stage after some minutes, guitar in hand. As everyone looked around, waiting for the other three members to rejoin him, he stared out into the crowd and started strumming a haunting, stripped-down version of “Seaside.” The band then returned and concluded the night with two more songs that had the crowd—and Pritchard—going insane, but it was that picture of the singer alone with his guitar that will be embedded into the memories of everyone who had the luck of witnessing it first-hand.
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