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'Uncomplicated indie nostalgia' - The Kooks, Castlefield Bowl, Manchester review

Meg Roberts witnessed the indie rockers play a career spanning show as part of Sounds of The City 2019.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 17th Jul 2019

Taking place over two mid-July weekends, Sounds of the City are Mancunian summer nights all over. A foolproof formula of beer, your best mates and an amalgamation of iconic music acts coupled with a midsummer’s Castlefield sunset, it’s a little slice of Northern heaven. Or as frontman Luke Pritchard puts it, ‘the centre of rock n’roll.’

And yes, we might have felt that bit envious of the clusters of people from overlooking apartment balconies, who got the best seat in the house to watch the likes of Bloc Party, Kylie Minogue and Elbow. Not to mention, the occasional passing train goers who watched overhead, it was an enigmatic kind of atmosphere and we soaked up every second of it. 

As one of the last concerts of the series, much like The Wombats who played the very same stage exactly one week before, The Kooks had us taken straight back to pure nostalgia of uncomplicated 2005 indie, even just for a night. 

They opened the set of their self-confessed "biggest Manchester show to date" to favourite 'Always Where I Need To Be' from sophomore album Konk - and what followed was more classic Kooks arsenal and we’re of course, talking about songs like 'Side of my Sofa', 'Eddie’s Gun' and undeniable crowd-pleaser, 'She Moves in Her Own Way'.

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Kooks devotees aside, everywhere you turned, you’d find people singing along to every word, and you could say that’s what we are missing these days. Bring back those easy peasy lyrics, skinny jeans, floppy haired boys and let’s fall in love on the seaside. 

But, even though it feels a lot like it tonight, it’s not mid-2000’s anymore. Some five albums later, which, unlike a lot of their rivals within the same category, seem to just get progressively worse as the years roll on with a bid to try and stay relevant (naming no names). This ain’t the case tonight, despite Pritchard’s promise of ‘some old songs, some new songs and some boring songs’ for good measure. They played what you’d paid to see, and there was no self-indulgence here. 

Drawing in their original fans, now twenty and thirty-somethings, along with the newer gen of fresher-faced teens, all Off-White, Balenciaga fanny packs, bucket hats and neon (yes, at a Kooks gig). The latter being mostly responsible for mosh pits at any, (sometimes odd) given opportunity they could muster up, with Pritchard preaching ‘peace and love’ because, well, you’ve just got to ‘be good to each other.’

For us that grew up listening The Kooks, it got us thinking, do you even remember this? You weren’t there, is it even the same for you? But that’s the thing about music isn’t it, it has that raw ability to bring people together and good music, it doesn’t age and can resonate to anyone, anywhere. And the sing-song didn’t stop all night, we hardly needed the "altogether now" prompt when it came time for 'Seaside'.

Keeping rock n’roll alive is about saying how you feel, it’s in keeping the dream alive dedicating 'See Me Now' to his late father and also just ‘anyone who can relate.’ It’s found in the cameras live streaming the show to sick children in hospital beds around the world. 

The mood decidedly changed for sexy 'Do You Wanna' (and yeah Luke, we really bloody do.) By close of show, we’re sweaty, beaming from ear to ear and even Pritchard’s telling us ‘to have a snog’ with a stranger by the time newer tune 'No Pressure' comes on.

It seems crazy to think that it’s been almost 15 years since Inside In/Inside Out, The Kooks have stood the test of time and tonight proved just as much. Here’s to the next 15.

Image: The Kooks