My evening watching The Kooks at Leicester’s O2 academy was nostalgic to say the least.

They played ‘See the World’ and I was transported back to 14-year old me, listening to their CD on my Walkman, envisioning myself in the future as a travelling nomad living out of a rucksack.

They played ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ and I remembered dancing to that song at a party, WKD in hand – I must have been 15 or 16.

They played ‘Always Where I Need To Be’ and I felt 17, driving down country lanes from my boyfriend’s house on a summer’s Sunday evening.

They played ‘Naïve’, taking me back to so many good memories and holidays, it would be impossible to list them all.

The thing is I haven’t actually listened to their first two albums (and in my opinion their best albums) in a very long time. Although, despite this, the lyrics to all of these fantastic songs were still firmly imprinted on my brain- the words are second nature to me.

The Kooks, for me, have always been my foundation in the music world. Over the years, my music taste would span from Jamie T to SBTRKT, phasing in Paramore, and then into the poppy sounds of Katy B, but The Kooks were always there like a familiar friend. Their Inside In/Inside Out album comes on and my lips move instinctively to the lyrics, and without any conscious thought.

There is nothing more satisfying to see a band like The Kooks, who have tracked your adolescence with their easy-listening indie sounds, live and still very much kicking after all these years. Plastic pint glass in hand, the faint scent of sweat, and your toes occasionally trodden on – nothing beats a gig.

Supporting The Kooks was Irish band Walking on Cars, whose music possessed the slight twang of Bastille, with a lead singer that reminded me of You Me At Six. Their music was fiery and strong, accompanied by some neat guitar solos, and the occasional piano melody, and some songs I could certainly imagine hitting the charts. I predict we might be hearing more of this fresh-faced band over the next few years.

The curly-headed Luke Pritchard (lead singer of The Kooks) met expectations. His voice was nothing short of the typical Kooks sound, still strong and energetic behind a live mic. They began their set with a few new songs off their recently released album Listen – all new stuff to me. Suddenly, all the young teenagers around me started jumping around in excitement. To be honest, I wasn’t blown away by their newer songs. Perhaps it was because I was in too much anticipation for their older tracks, to feel that nostalgia of my much simpler teenage years. Finally, the oh-to familiar acoustic guitar introduction to ‘Seaside’ began, and everyone’s arms proceeded to sway. Their newer tracks may have impressed the younger folks, but there seemed to be an overall appreciation for their older tracks in the audience. I was glad to see that The Kooks hadn’t abandoned their classic British rock band look, with Union Jacks flashing behind them, along with familiar sights of London.

The gig closed with ‘Naïve’, eagerly anticipated by everyone in the audience – let’s be honest, it couldn’t have ended any other way. Still one of their most popular songs, it was played with enthusiasm and energy.

My only complaint is that ‘Jackie Big Tits’ stayed firmly ‘in the corner’ last night! It has always been one of my favourite songs, and it was forgotten amongst their newer tracks. Hey, I understand they can’t live in the shadows of their older albums – even if my loyalties will always remain there. I’ve promised to myself to give their new tracks a listen, but The Kooks in 2008 will be how I always remember them.

Victoria Cox


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