Empire, Middlesbrough, Monday May 6
If you listen carefully, you might be able to hear a strange rumble coming down the A66 that runs from Middlesbrough to Cumbria. “Don’t forget who you are” the chant goes. It’s a mantra sickly enough for a Disney film. But tonight is a world away from wide-eyed wonder and talking candlesticks, and the baying bunch of north Yorkshire folk singing back the closing gambit of Miles Kane’s set tonight are impressively loud.
Miles Kane has always been a huge hit in the north, and you get the feeling that things are about to kick up a few notches in 2013. Despite debuting large swathes of new tracks from his forthcoming album (also called ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’), tonight’s atmosphere is rabid throughout. Kane plays seven new tracks in just over an hour, and almost all are cheered like instant classics. He owns this place.
From the second he walks out – wearing a slightly disappointingly normal get-up of black shirt and trousers with a subtle white stripe (where’s the snakeskin, Miles?) – he’s every ounce the showman. Part cheeky chappy entertainer, part excitable, revved-up lad, the 27-year-old from the Wirral is the Robbie Williams of indie, a performer who’s as psyched to be here as the audience are to have him. From the repeated yells of “Come on, Middlesbrough!” to Kane’s constant gestures to cheer and scream, every second of his time onstage is dedicated to rinsing as much energy from the room as possible. It works.
It helps that Kane’s songs are designed to aid this reciprocal bonding. Opener and new offering ‘You’re Gonna Get It’ repeats its title phrase so often that, by the end, the crowd are yelling it back like an old friend. The same goes for ‘Darkness In Our Hearts’ and the aforementioned new album’s title track. In Miles’ world, choruses come big and brash, “love” will always rhyme with “above” and “the night time” will always be “the right time”. And though the new tracks ‘Better Than That’ and ‘Taking Over’ may run on a slightly more jangly, ’60s bent than ‘Colour Of The Trap’’s full-throttle anthemics, these lyrical guidelines still apply. It would be easy to mock all this, but when there’s this much excitement in a room, who cares? Miles Kane is king of the everyman appeal and hey, surely every man can’t be wrong.