The Dead 60s/The Kooks/GoodBooks: KOKO, London Saturday February, 11
Two weeks of NME approved mayhem hits London town
Oops, CRASH!, Bleeep!!! Thud. Opening the ShockWaves NME Awards Show tonight, it’s clear that young Kent band GoodBooks (or Harry Potter And The Unkempt Indie Envelope Pushers, as they should be known) will have a stab at anything. From ensemble raps about Cambridge University to intricate handclap segments, GoodBooks are a literate scuttle-disco four-piece who make dance music for boffins. Songs like ‘Walk With Me’ bristle with Bloc guitars, tender vocal harmonies and sophisticated arrangements, while the rapid rhythms of implausibly-named drummer Leo Von Bülow-Quirk infuse it all with electro vigour. Erm, geekbeat, anyone?
When The Kooks’ cheeky grinning mainman Luke Pritchard skips onto the stage chirping, “’Ello ’ello, everybody” in a mockney falsetto, half the crowd almost swoon themselves into a coma. And if the more grizzly of tonight’s fans aren’t won over by the charming rapscallion’s fay demeanour, it takes just three bars of the yearning ‘Seaside’ to convert them all. This consummate pop may be about as edgy as a glass of milk, but it sure as hell makes girls jiggle. Tonight these four broccoli-headed, slimline indie poster boys’ infectiously well-drilled Britpop dances toe-to-toe with everyone from Zappa to Zeppelin. ‘See The World’ is a wacky teen stomper straight from Supergrass’ stash of stoned-up party-pop, while ‘Ooh La’ sparks such an impassioned singalong that it makes an Arctic Monkeys gig look like an evening with Mogwai. Hilariously though, it’s during famed ode to impotence ‘Eddie’s Gun’ that The Kooks really, um, raise their game. Pritchard pulses with the swagger of youth in trousers so tight that it’s clear for all to see that ‘Eddie’ is not so shy tonight.
If Preston’s transformation into red-top totty is busy taking the Ordinary out of the Boy, then his army can look to Liverpudlian ska-alikes The Dead 60s for gritty ’80s-style urban truisms. They arrive onstage to the sound of sirens, marching in a tricolour of polo shirts with threatening scowls on their brows, the summer of ska still alive and skanking in their hearts. But this is no mindless, bendy knees-up, because these young men are angry. Angry goddammit! A.N.G.R.Y!! They’re expressing their Incredible Hulk-esque metropolitan rage through music, and we’re only too glad to listen to singer Matt McManamon get things off his chest. An early showing of ‘Riot Radio’ draws the nutters out, sending pork-pie hats flying, and songs surge relentlessly on swamped in dense dub reverb and restless two-tone, ‘Ghostfaced Killer’ revealing McManamon as a sweaty beast with a raw primal scream. With this kind of phenomenal magic in the room, who needs Hogwarts?