The Kooks At The Roxy Theatre

  • The Kooks perform at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles on Aug. 8
    Photo: Steve Baltin

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By Steve Baltin
Los Angeles

Credit is due to British rockers the Kooks. The band — Peter Denton (bass), Hugh Harris (guitar), Alexis Nunez (drums), and Luke Pritchard (vocals/guitar) — have been working bloody hard to set up their fourth album, Listen, in the United States. Though the album isn't due until Sept. 2, the group played a small U.S. tour in March, including a stop at South by Southwest and, more recently, dates at Lollapalooza and the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, before playing two sold-out shows at the Roxy in Los Angeles on Aug. 8. That hard work is clearly paying off.

Before both sets, one at 7 p.m. and one at 10 p.m., lines stretched down the block on Sunset Blvd. with eager young fans waiting to see Britain's potential hottest new export. Opening the 10 p.m. set with a robust "Junk Of The Heart," charismatic frontman Pritchard danced around the stage like a mix of Mick Jagger and David Lee Roth, as the band delivered on the fans' lofty expectations.

Pritchard showed his work ethic throughout the hour-plus set, repeatedly coming to the front of the stage and posturing like a rock star on top of the amps as screaming girls pressed against the stage. Some of the more upbeat highlights came courtesy of Listen, from which they drew a generous seven songs. Among the standouts were the dance-flavored "Forgive & Forget," the funky "It Was London" and the superb pop hook of "Westside." The bluesy "Down," with its Bo Diddley-like beat, was another high point, especially the way the middle of the song was fleshed out with an extended solo. While it was the prancing Pritchard who elicited the most screams, including one fan who yelled, "I want you bad," the show worked so well because of the unity of the band, who, after months of touring in support of the new album, have found their stride as a unit.

The cohesion was evident on the main set's closer, a ferocious rendition of 2008's "Do You Wanna." The Kooks proved they can rock and make an audience groove, but can also effortlessly switch gears, as evidenced by a mini two-song acoustic set in the middle of the show, which included Pritchard going the troubadour route for "Seaside" and a track billed on the set list as simply "Acoustic Song."

On "Seaside" Pritchard teased the capacity throng when he yelled at the opening note: "You know that song? Sing it." And they did, singing every word of the opening in perfect unison.

There are moments when you watch a band and you know they are on the precipice of something great. Watching the Kooks on this night, and seeing the fan devotion, it was evident that the Kooks are at that point. The band will be back in Los Angeles to play the Wiltern on Sept. 25. But by next year, the group will no doubt be onto much bigger venues.

Set List:

"Junk Of The Heart"
"Always Where I Need To Be"
"Ooh La"
"It Was London"
"Eddie's Gun"
"She Moves In Her Own Way"
"Around Town"
"Acoustic Song"
"You Don't Love Me"
"Bad Habit"
"Sofa Song"
"Do You Wanna"
"Forgive & Forget"

Catch the Kooks on tour in a city near you

(Steve Baltin has written about music for Rolling StoneLos Angeles TimesMOJOChicago Tribune, AOL, LA Weekly, Philadelphia WeeklyThe Hollywood Reporter, and dozens more publications.)

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