I have had equal annoyance and pleasure with The Kills over the years. Those three albums are very impressive, I would never take that away from them, but I could never imagine it working well live. It's their image I think. Anyone with a brain and an ear for music should be able to see the 'passing' resemblance to late 70s New York genius electro/punk twosome Suicide. They wrote the blueprints for this type of thumping rock/drum machine noise. And wrote them well. Their self-titled first album is often sited in many critics Best Albums Ever lists. Anyway I must move on. All I'm saying is that; a lot of bands these days owe a monumental amount to Suicide. The Kills most definitely being one (do not get me started on Crystal Castles), so much so, I often find it difficult to let go and forget, as I'm sure I have just proved.
So the first day of their European tour kicked off and let there be no mistake about it however; The Kills have massive gravitas on stage. They swanned on with a confident swagger, just the two of them (he is Hotel, she is W). Just the two of them and a drum machine. And it worked so well. He resembles a Berlin-era Lou Reed (undoubtedly an influence, as we were to find out later); all leather, scarf, black clothes, shades. She prowled on stage more predator than prey; every bit a sleek tiger of sexual distraction, a PJ Harvey, a Janis Joplin, a Patti Smith all rolled viciously into one snarling live menace. If rock chicks were a turn-on, which they are to me, this woman was the pinnacle of the last fifty years of female musicianship combined. I wanted to charge onstage and grab hold, of something, anything. She flung and spun her hair, her body, around and around for the entire hour long show. Meanwhile, across from her, Hotel played the guitar with a crazy ease. The fluidity and connection between the two was there to see for everyone. If Kate was watching, it must be hard not to be jealous.
In short; seeing this band live was mesmerising. It did not let up from beginning to end. The show opened with 'U.R.A. Fever' before piling into 'Sour Cherry' and moments later the instantly infectious 'Tape Song.' The barrage came fast and loud as 'Last Days of Magic,' fans favourites 'Black Balloon' and 'Getting Down' quickly followed. The last two songs before the encore took Tripod to hysteria; 'Cheap and Cheerful' and 'Fried my Little Brain.' With the inevitable return, they played a small but succinct closer of three tracks containing a personal favourite 'Cat Claw' and a beautiful rendition of the Velvet Underground's 'Pale Blue Eyes.'
It is possible the Kate Moss connection has done this band huge favours. There were indeed some well groomed jock types and girly-girls but so what I suppose. Bringing your music to new demographics is never a bad thing; it just seemed strange in contrast to the starkly blacked out emo kids pacing back and forth. And what of the band overall then? Well, they may wear their influences on their sleeve but they have nothing to fear and I think they know this. Their musicianship, style and fantastic song-writing abilities certainly speak volumes. Give me this any day over your Keanes, Coldplays and Snowpatrols.
Memories are Now, is a bold and inventive collection from Jesca Hoop who says each new record begins with a musical identity crisis
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