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23rd February 2022

The Kooks Live Review: The ‘Inside In / Inside Out’ of a gleefully nostalgic night

A review of ‘The Kooks’ live at Manchester o2 Victoria Warehouse as they tour their 15 year old album ‘Inside in/Inside out’
The Kooks Live Review: The ‘Inside In / Inside Out’ of a gleefully nostalgic night
Photo: Annie Dabb @ The Mancunion

You’re naive if you thought 2006 was the last you’d see of Inside In / Inside Out. Touring their debut 15-year-old album, Inside In / Inside Out ahead of the release of Echoes In The Dark this July, The Kooks proved at Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse that their songs are as timeless now as they were a decade and a half ago. 

Running into the venue from the freezing night, my senses were almost immediately warmed, not just by the pulsating crowd of sweaty 20-something bodies or the mesmerising stage lights, but also by the unmistakable first strums of ‘Seaside’, the first track on the prolific album. Only The Kooks could begin a gig with a relatively slow love song to draw in the crowd and follow it immediately with mosh pit-inducing bops. 

The indie band certainly seemed to bring out the romantics in the crowd as couples swayed lovingly to ironically unromantic lyrics in songs like  ‘Got No Love’ and ‘You Don’t Love Me.’ With love in the air around Valentine’s Day, it would have been the perfect date night or the perfect excuse to throw yourself around ecstatically because who cares if you don’t love me when The Kooks are out. The crowd’s glee seemed surpassed only by the band’s wide grins as they performed their own serotonin-inducing music. 

Instantly as the band launched into ‘See The World’.  With the signature Kooks guitar intro, the dance dynamic of the room switched and I knew that I was about to see the world in a different way, even if that view was slightly obstructed by what felt like a million six foot-something indie boys. Banger after banger compelled the entire room (myself included) to jump around like madmen so that it didn’t matter whether you could see or not as five seconds later you found yourself thrust into a mosh pit fuelled by exuberant nostalgia. 

It was clear immediately that this band knew how to hype up a crowd of screaming fans. By placing their drummer slap bang in the middle of the stage,  their highly energetic and strongly rhythmic songs commanded our feet to move. Of course, one of the best things about The Kooks is that you know their music from lead singer Luke Pritchard’s very first note. I was hit with a feeling of nostalgia as his own seaside town Worthing accent rang out earnestly across the room. 

The cigarette butt-littered Victoria Warehouse is certainly a long way away from Brighton Free Butt Festival where the band first made their debut, but you wouldn’t think 2005 was so long ago judging by the energy each band member still brought to the stage. One of the most charming things about The Kooks is how much they seem to appreciate their fans and the music that they play. Just before strumming into ‘Ooh La’, Pritchard shouted that they were “gonna play the whole fucking album, if you don’t mind.” We didn’t mind one bit. 

The Kooks have been, I’m sure for many of the predominantly 20-somethings at the gig, a recurring soundtrack as we’ve grown up. Whether we’ve achieved our paper dreams or not, we’ve all moved in our own way at countless parties to tunes like ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ or ‘Naive.’ We didn’t get to hear about Pritchard’s day, unfortunately, but to see The Kooks live (albeit it on a Thursday rather than a Tuesday), shining on just as bright- if not more- as I’m sure they were 15 years ago, I knew this was ‘Always Where I Need(ed) To Be.’

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