A great front man is hard to find in today’s swamped market, with the icons of the 60s and 70s all very much unrivalled in the 21st century.
It’s all well and good having the seemingly shy, coy and unassuming leading the way, but sometimes we need the swagger, the bravado and the ego. A bit of razzmatazz. Someone who’s going to put on a show and lap it up. And anyone who has seen Miles Kane before will know he’s a showman through and through.
Even before he sets foot on the stage we are treated to a set from an equally dapper and confident young man: Eugene McGuinness. A former member of Kane’s band, it’s clear to see that some of Miles’ cheeky chappy, sashaying disposition has rubbed off on him. Impeccably groomed, he commandeered the mic stand with all the passion and pizzazz of a young Jagger. His acutely catchy, aberrantly styled singles ‘Lion’ and ‘Shotgun’ proved incredibly popular with the already rowdy crowd; a mosh pit erupting with the aid of Eugene’s perfectly enunciated quirky vocals and thundering basslines. Already knowing how to whip a crowd into a frenzy and leave them wanting more, his hotly tipped new album ‘The Invitation To The Voyage’ due out in July, is set to be a fervid one.
And then onto the main act. Born in The Wirral, the former head honcho of The Rascals, The Little Flames and current co-front man of The Last Shadow Puppets has a certain glint in his eye. He's the type of boy your mother warned you about. Miles Kane strides on to the stage in a literal blaze of glory, trussed up in a pristine deep red two piece, with the quintessential mod look still in tact, oozing charisma and evidently ready to raise the roof on the rammed Academy.
He chose to kick things off, literally, with the contagious ‘Rearrange’, his high jinxed guitar playing providing much for the already frenzied crowd to thrive on, with beer being slung from every corner. It may have been a Thursday night but there was no telling. It soon became clear that the 60’s tinged melody with galvanized electric riffs was the mere tip of the iceberg; Mr Kane was only just warming up. He was insistent on entertaining each and every one of us – from the mosh pit to the balcony. We were going to have a good time.
Miles works his way through the set full throttle, showing obvious skill and adroitness with his guitar. From intricate interludes to frenzied finishes, there’s no denying his dexterity and ingenuity when it comes to playing. The likes of 'Counting Down The Days', 'Better Left Invisible' and 'Telepathy' slowed things down a little showcasing Miles' softer, more melodic amorous side. The young songsmith flirtatiously chose to dedicate debut album track 'My Fantasy' to the females in the crowd - and its gradual pace with canorous guitar strumming and violin interjection rightfully saw him woo us all in one fell swoop.
It's damn right obvious Miles has a great deal of confidence, he's bombastic with a somewhat inflated ego maybe. Such qualities are usually off-putting but in him they aren't. They add to the entertainment, somehow making him seem more genuine, and there's no doubt he has the talent to back it all up. New single 'First Of My Kind' with its infectious chorus of "All in good time you'll find, that I'm the first of my kind" was delivered in a somewhat tongue in cheek manner, stage centre, full of cockyness but not in a narcissistic or arrogant fashion. He knows his egocentricity is what draws people to him and he brazenly plays up to it. And with chants of 'Miles' at every given opportunity, the crowd were more than happy to reciprocate.
The ever rapacious 'Inhaler' saw the band and crowd almost self combust with energy; the mixture of buzzsaw guitar, anthemic vocals and shunting drums were a mighty force to be reckoned with. The momentum was maintained throughout with optimum levels met at encore time. An all-consuming guitar interlude saw co-ordinated guitar reverberating and lighting climax in 'Come Closer' - its achingly addictive 'whoa, whoa..' ringing from every crevasse in the room. No-one wanted it to end, least of all Miles.
It's incredibly hard to imagine that this figure cutting such a great shape on stage spoke, on the release of his first album 'Colour Of The Trap', of his lack of confidence in his solo material. Fast forward a year and I think it's safe to say he's rid himself of any fears and at the same time put to bed any niggling suggestions that he was merely Alex Turner's sidekick. He's out on his own and quite frankly on fire, and with recording sessions with the Modfather himself, Mr Paul Weller on their way, things are about to get a lot hotter for the boy from The Wirral. There was a definite sense on seeing the whole of the Academy mirthful and carefree, bouncing and singing their hearts out, that those bigger venues are definitely calling.
Miles Kane has done the rounds, put in the hard graft, and deservedly emerged as a star in his own right. The swagger may not be everyone's cup of tea but there's no denying this 26 year old knows how to put on a spectacle.
Words: Michelle Lloyd
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Originally published: 4th May 2012