The Kooks with Barns Courtney
New York, NY
February 28, 2019
The Kooks came together in 2004 in Brighton, East Sussex. One listen to the band’s smart, jangly pop-rock music confirms that it has been influenced by many of the British Invasion groups (particularly the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles) as well as the music of the Strokes, the Clash, Madness, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, the Police and Beck. The band currently consists of Luke Pritchard (vocals/rhythm guitar), Hugh Harris (lead guitar/synthesizer), Alexis Nunez (drums) and touring bassist Peter Randall. The original bassist Max Rafferty left the band in 2008, and the founding drummer was Paul Garred who left in 2010 due to a nerve problem in his arm.
Over the course of its career, The Kooks have released five critically acclaimed studio albums. It’s most recent album, Let's Go Sunshine was released on Lonely Cat Records in late 2018. In 2017 the greatest hits album, The Best of... So Far, was released by Virgin/Astralwerks Records. The Kooks are best-known for its songs: “Always Where I Need to Be” (which peaked at number three. In the U.S.), “She Moves in Her Own Way,” “Be Who You Are,” “Do You Wanna,” “Junk of the Heart (Happy)” and “Naïve.”
Barns Courtney was born in England in 1990. He and his family moved to Seattle, WA, when he was 4. He has spent time living in the United States and in England since he was 15. During his career, Courtney has opened for numerous artists including: the Who, the Libertines, Ed Sheeran, the Lumineers and Fitz and The Tantrums.
In 2015, Courtney released the song “Glitter & Gold” which has received airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. The song has also been used as the theme song of the Hawthorn Football Club, nicknamed the Hawks, a professional Australian rules football club, and, most-recently as the intro song of the Netflix series Safe. Courtney’s song “Fire” was used as the series outro track. “Fire” has also been heard on the British TV series Top Gear, in USA Network’s Suits in MTV’s Teen Wolf, in Fox’s Lucifer, in the 2017 documentary We, the Marines, a TV commercial for Cadillac and in the movie Burnt. “Fire” has been streamed more than 35 million times on Spotify, while “Glitter & Gold” has been streamed more than 41 million times.
It was a cool final day of February 2019 when the Kooks and Courtney touched down at New York City’s famed and intimate Terminal 5 venue. The sold-out show featured a multi-generational audience populated with Millennials, members of Gens X and Y and quite a few Baby Boomers. Many of the fans were in attendance for both the Kooks and Courtney. They came for and received a show of exactly what they expected--an evening of fun rock and pop featuring tasty guitar licks with an alternative/new wave/modern rock esthetic.
The night kicked off with the charismatic Courtney, who delivered a powerful nine-song set that was highlighted not only by “Glitter & Gold” and “Fire,” an opening 1-2-3 punch of “Fun Never Ends,” “London Girls and “Hands” as well as an amazing version of “99.” Courtney had the crowd in the palm of his hand or rather made certain that they audience had his back when took the opportunity to crowdsurf, which is an opportunity that is not afforded to many opening acts.
After a short intermission, the Kooks took the stage. In a masterstroke move, the band immediately grabbed the audience by the throat by opening with the sing-a-long favorite “Always Where I Need to Be.” While the venue’s fantastic lighting system pulsed and flashed throughout the show, singer Pritchard held the audience’s attention throughout the 17-song main set by stalking his way across the stage in a performance that was just as much concert as celebration of life.
The audience members were also a part of the celebration. A Kooks concert is a joyous event that affords the group’s fans the chance to “let it all hang out.” Fans greeted each other in much the same way that family members react when loved ones return from deployment in a warzone—arms stretched with smiles of joy on their faces as they embraced. They spent the evening dancing and bopping their way across the main floor and around both upper levels of the venue. The band delivers that type of reaction among its diehard devotees.
Highlights of the show included: “She Moves In Her Own Way,” “Pamela,” “Do You Wanna,” “See Me Now,” “Bad Habit” and “Four Leaf Clover.” By the time that the main set ended with another 1-2-3 combo—“Do You Wanna,” “Seaside” and “Junk of the Heart (Happy)”—most of the crowd members were drenched with a combination of sweat and adrenaline.
Prior to the encores, the cheering had reached a fever pitch as the faithful waited for the final performances of the evening. The encores of “No Pressure” from Lets Go Sunshine and “Naïve” from Inside In/Inside Out (Virgin Records, 2006) were exactly what the doctor ordered, a touch of the new to show the fans where the band is headed and a bit of the old to remind them of where it has been.
The Kooks are a must-see band. The group always delivers “an experience.” Its shows are more than just rock concerts. They are happenings. The audience members not only dance and bop to the beat, but they sing at the top of their lungs while taking picture with their camera phones, and to top it off in an effort to own every piece of the band possible, they spend a fortune at the merchandise stand on shirts, hats, CDs, vinyl albums and posters. In a perfect world, the Kooks would be headlining sold out festivals and 50,000 seat stadiums.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon