[Review] The Kills @ The Roundhouse, London (03/06/11)

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment


The only adjective that comes anywhere close to describing The Kills is this: magnetic. Their live shows don’t have any of the gimmicks you might find at other artists’ live shows; a leopard print background, some lighting, and the two band members are all they need to create an outstandingly electric atmosphere. As someone who became a fan after seeing the band perform live, I was expecting a lot from their set, and the duo (Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart – or Hotel and VV to give them their correct Kills stage names) did not disappoint.

The atmosphere kicks into high gear straight away, with the crowd reacting warmly to older track ‘No Wow’. As ‘Future Starts Slow’, the opening track of latest album Blood Pressures begins, things heat up even more. You’d be hard pressed to find a review of The Kills that doesn’t mention the chemistry between the pair; anyone who has attended one of their live shows knows this isn’t due to lack of imagination on the part of the author, but a frank admission of what you encounter as they play. The dynamics and the relationship between the two is the reason the band works so well, and has continued to do so since their debut album in 2003. Their presence on stage and the back-and-forth dynamics they execute so well seem to come completely natural to them; you’re not so much watching two people get up on stage and perform as you are witnessing them doing what they love in their natural environment.

Hince and Mosshart are more than just an entertaining duo however; they are powerful forces in their own right. Alison prowls about the stage, the delicate grittiness (yes it seems, there can be both) of her vocals matched by her confident strides. Jamie stays more to one spot as he executes a musical performance that shows how underrated he is as a guitar player, and all-round musician. His rhythm and timing are spot on as his harsh yet sensitive playing blends the gap between blues and pure rock. Many tracks from Blood Pressures are played, highlights including ‘Heart Is A Beating Drum’ and ‘DNA’. However, it is old tracks such as ‘U.R.A Fever’ and ‘Tape Song’ that bring the crowd to a feverish peak. This is a ode to a band who have never been wildly famous (in recent years it has been Hince’s love interest and Mosshart’s other musical endeavours that have brought them into the spotlight) but who have built a devoted fan base around their authenticity and true musical talent.

A brief divergence from their own material occurs, in the form of ‘No No No’/’Steppin’ Razor’, the cover they first played in a session for Zane Lowe. It’s a cover that further showcases the reggae edge that Blood Pressures’ track ‘Satellite’ displayed. This is a set in which covers tracks, old tracks and new tracks blend seamlessly, every one executed dynamically, inducing a wildness into the crowd that is further heightened by ‘Sour Cherry’. Things take a downward turn as, returning for the encore, the slow, soothing tones of ‘The Last Goodbye’ roll over the crowd. It shows an incredibly delicate side to the band, Alison’s voice holding up just as strongly on this emotional number as on the louder numbers, and Jamie using the tones of the mellotron to an almost hypnotic effect.

This hypnotised state is broken by the slow, thumping intro of Blood Pressures‘ final track ‘Pots and Pans’, during which Alison plays drums. The track builds up to a rousing finale of “These are the days we’ll never forget / when the dawn dawns on you”, and certainly anyone who wasn’t aware of the power of The Kills has had their eyes opened tonight. Their final au revoir for the night comes in the form of ‘Fried My Little Brains’, a rumbling and rattling number that definitely leaves minds feeling blown.

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