British indie rock stars the Kooks performed at Fox Theater in Oakland on Monday in support of the group’s latest release, Let’s Go Sunshine. This is the band’s first studio album released since 2014, but fans still packed the venue after all these years for a mood-boosting night.
The first big hit of the night was “She Moves In Her Own Way” from the 2006 album Inside In / Inside Out. This song is one of the most cheerful tunes of this century, so the sweet vibes swept the room as the energy built for the rest of the concert.
“Sweet Emotion” began on a stripped-back note, allowing soft acoustics to ring through the venue. This more subdued song slowly rose in intensity, eventually bringing the crowd from laidback listeners to an upbeat dance wave.
In the band’s music, the Kooks bring back the aesthetics of old classic rock often lost in today’s music. During this live performance, audience members could watch lead singer Luke Pritchard run his fingers through his hair and sway with Mick Jagger energy — it’s refreshing to see a band maintain the rock-star look that Post Malone was talking about.
Pritchard had a habit of talking about the songs before they were played, often prefacing each with a little backstory before jumping in. Before playing “Kids,” he said, “This one is about watching our country jump off a cliff.”
Likewise, Pritchard said the song “Chicken Bone” was “about when the city gets you down.”
Even though Pritchard kept that devil-may-care, Jagger edge, he took the time to pay attention to the crowd, asking gently if the front row needed water or anything to make them more comfortable. As soon as Pritchard settled back into his position as frontman, guitarist Hugh Harris jokingly stroked the first few chords of “Seaside,” a crowd favorite. Pritchard played along, singing the lyrics in a laughing falsetto to tease the impatient audience.
“Westside” had the grooviest tropical drums of the night. The metallic percussion twangs and subtle synth waves brought electronic dynamics to the otherwise pure rock sound of the band’s other songs. As the drums built up to the song’s climax, extra loud cheering and whistling could be heard from the audience as everyone jumped around and had a good time.
The song “Pamela” off Let’s Go Sunshine transported the crowd to the 1970s British rock scene. While many of the elements still sound very modern on the recorded track, the live version clearly pulled from the band’s British roots, Pritchard’s accent flaunted through the lyrics.
Although drummer Alexis Nunez shined for basically the entire concert, the song “Bad Habit” gave him extra time to show off before the show came to a close. Nunez gracefully led the audience clapping with the booming of the bass drum, as many of the recorded songs feature live clapping to keep the beat. As “Bad Habit” is also one of the group’s more popular tunes, the audience brought high energy with its participation as the crowd members clapped along.
The most intimate moment of the night finally came when the Kooks performed “Seaside,” everyone’s favorite coastal driving song. An ocean of cell phone flashlights raised as the crowd came together to help Pritchard belt out the lyrics, many audience members holding each other arm in arm for the soft song.
When the band left the stage, the crowd members stomped and cheered as they insisted on an encore — so much so that the floor began to shake underneath. After a short time, the Kooks returned onstage, Pritchard saying the band had “never played here. This is one beautiful fucking theater.”
The band members dedicated the last song to the lovers, saying they could have a “snog,” as they say in England. And though this particular number was quite fitting for the buildup to Valentine’s Day season, the entire night was filled with love.