Koo Koo for The Kooks
It may not have been quite the British invasion like those of the Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, or The Who, but The Kooks made quite an appearance at Thursday night's show in downtown Denver at the Ogden Theatre. Presented by 97.3 KBCO, the station of "World Class Rock," an older crowd of college students and middle-aged adults was drawn in, though a significant amount of younger high schoolers too had presence in the tightly packed theatre. California band the Morning Benders took to the stage warming up for The Kooks with an energetic set that got the crowd moving as a continuous flow of people made their way in from the streets, the younger of the audience filling in the floor as the adults made their way up the the balcony area, alcoholic beverages in hand. A strong tension of energy and excitement among the audience could be felt in the air even before the Morning Benders played their set, and that only increased as The Kooks took over the stage for an outstanding performance of charismatic stage entertainment and extreme musical talent.
Just as soon as the lights went out and the first musician walked out as a mere black silhouette, the full audience burst into an outrageous flood of clapping and yelling. As the lights slowly moved up unveiling the young and scrawny, yet attractive, frontman Luke Pritchard, the female dominated audience sufficed to bring the decibel level up a few more notches at the sight of his new found presence. A short looking stature on a slim frame with curly locks of hair, a white wife beater under a open denim shirt, and tight dark jeans with brown boots made up Pritchard to strikingly resemble a young Jim Morrison. Adding to his physical resemblance of the Lizard King was the explosive stage presence of Pritchard. While there was no rolling around on the stage or hypnotic moments of euphoria for Pritchard, he did display such pinnacles of emotion as having a slight bounce as he sang into and danced freely in step to the music over every inch of stage. Whether it was an upbeat song or one more mellow, and no matter if he had his guitar in hand or was obliged only to his lyrics, with a sway in his walk, an innocent bow of the head, and a flip of the microphone stand, Pritchard embodied a stage presence greatly similar to the image the public today holds of "American Poet" Jim Morrison.
Though it was Pritchard that really made the show as far as stage performance is concerned, the band as a whole played with such cohesiveness and accuracy as to make for a stunningly impressive presentation. The remaining members of the band may not have caught the fancy of the ladies in the audience as did Pritchard with his looks and British accent, but their performance as musicians was as successful as Pritchard's, both as a musician and entertainer. Song after song, not once did any musician individually or taken together as a whole play to a standard less than that of the actual recorded song. Drums, lead guitar, bass, and lyrics all came together magnificently and made for a show that sounded most nearly identical to the album, from every distinctive guitar riff to those subtle little grunts and accents in the vocals. Most impressive in their replication of their studio recorded sound was Pritchard's great success as a vocalist in reaching the high frequency pitches frequent among their newest album. Konk, The Kooks' new album released only recently in April 2008, may only be the band's second album, but displays a sound much different from their first 2006 album, Inside In/Inside Out. Prevalent among the differences in their style, though there are many, is the vocals. On their new album Pritchard takes his vocals to a new level, having grown greatly as a musician. Emotion and expression were always present in Pritchard's voice, but by taking is voice to fanatic levels of the highest pitches, he has created on their second album a new sense of feeling put into their songs that is most poignant to listen to. It is the success of pulling off these high notes in perfect pitch live on stage that really proved Pritchard talented as a musician and what put the cherry on top of their performance.
As The Kooks' seemingly longer than average set list came to a close, the audience showed no signs of fatigue from excessive amounts of dancing and singing along with every song. From older songs such as "She Moves In Her Own Way" and "Naive," to an abundance of songs off of their new album, including "Sway," "Shine On," and "One Last Time," the show consisted of a great mix of songs from the most upbeat to the slower, acoustic songs. If The Kooks had truly ended the show without an encore, fans and new listeners alike would have been fully satisfied, but their encore is was made the show end with an explosive bang. Two acoustic songs with only Pritchard on stage and the audience singing along was followed up by another couple of songs with the full band. Having performed in a packed theatre with not one person standing still during their full performance, each member of the band had to have been exhausted, but the way they pulled through on their last song of the encore was astounding. The audience too, though they'd been yelling, clapping, singing, and dancing along the whole night, showed great energy during that last bit of enthralling performance as well. Hands crowded the air and bodies swayed as Pritchard jumped on amps, flipped his mic stand, and nearly lunged into the audience with unbelievable energy and enthusiasm, ending the show with an incandescent finale that left every member of the audience wide-eyed and stupefied with astonishment.