“Did you see the way she looked at me?” Because The Kooks hoped they are the only ones. They fired out of the gates rocking the Wiltern’s socks off.
The British rock band strutted on stage, back lit, as if they were the opening montage to Entourage. Then with a quick flip of his curly hair and a rip of his chords, front man Luke Pritchard had Korea Town eating out of the palm of his hand.
The Kooks crush the beginning of their set. You questioned your music sensibility; are you missing something or are these guys really as cool as you’re witnessing? Before for the show, this rock snob questioned his fellow concertgoers if anything in the last 8 years was as rock n roll as the 1971 warm up song Brown Sugar from The Stone’s arsenal. By song four you felt like The Kooks answered that with a resounded “ME!”
Pritchard owned The Wiltern stage. Channeling his inner Mick, the only thing that would have made him cooler is if his black canvas jacket was made of leather.
The crowd was cooler than expected. I figured it’d be fellow late 20s to early 30s rock snobs who remember running home from college bragging to their dads they reviewed a cool new band for their ultra indie college radio station with a stellar song called “Naive”. Instead I found myself in a sea of early 20 something doe-eyed girls singing every vacated lyric.
But it wasn’t meant to be a five out of five star night, as The Kooks lost control of their momentum. After a stellar opening they played a couple of solo forgettable ballads from Pritchard and lead guitarist Hugh Harris. The Kooks middle set never recovered, sputtering in mediocrity.
During the lull Pritchard boasted the band was on their fifth album. That’s when you realized disputed the quantity of work, they don’t have the catalog quality to continue a 90 minute five out of five star set. In The Kooks defense The Killers perform some of their songs that are trash like “Bling (Confessions of a King)”.
Finally, as the buzz from the $10 a can Green Flash was wearing off, the sun came out in the shape of “Shine On”. Pritchard and the Brighton Boy found their mojo, the crowd came to life and roared through one of the loudest encores I’ve heard.
The gaggle of girls to my right asked what I thought would be played for the final chapter. I said “Always Where I Need To Be” and “Naive”. The girls demanded, “but first ‘Seaside’”. And again The Kooks answered the The Wiltern pit, in order. It was sublime, from acoustic “Seaside” to sing-along “Always” to party “Naive”.
It was a 5 star start, 1 star middle, 4.5 star finish from a band whose last hit was used to sell LG Shine phone, yes during iPhone 3G era. The band beat expectations, while The Kooks always knew they’d end up with me.