The Kills @ Concorde 2, 21st November
If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from The Kills. Critically acclaimed they may be, but when it comes down to it, the produce of Alison “VV” Mosshart and her best friend Jamie “Hotel” Hince is something I have found rarely appealing.
Listenable, yes; interesting, not so much. But I am prepared to admit when I’ve been presumptuous and, as we all know, the power of live music is such that you can often belatedly discover qualities you may have missed when simply blasting tracks from a stereo. And for that reason alone, I arrive at the Concorde2 filled with some sort of hope.
Admittedly, the evening starts off well. Ahead of their performance tonight comes support from London-based XX Teens, an irritatingly impressive five-piece who take to the stage just thirty minutes after spectators begin to trickle through the Concorde’s doors. As a teenager, I struggled to understand those attendees who preferred to sup pints at the bar rather than take in the support; as I grew older (and several insipid support acts later) I began to sympathise with the line of thought a lot more. But tonight, as Antony Silvester and his band mates work their way through material from their debut album, I’m instantly sold and their presence on the tour is immediately justified. My only concern is that, with the band playing to a half-empty auditorium, countless fans of The Kills have missed out on something really quite endearing.
As a general rule of thumb, I’m quite keen on happy endings. And with that in mind, an equally engaging performance from lo-fi pin-ups Mosshart and Hince certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss. Sadly, that sense of satisfaction goes somewhat awry, and in spite of the hoards of fans now clambering around me for a better view of the duo, The Kills slump further into mediocrity with every track they play. True, there is something vaguely enthralling about Mosshart’s vocals, and the PJ Harvey comparisons are never far from my mind. But does that count for much when I’m not much of a PJ fan myself? I decide not. The set seems more of a mish-mashed effort on the wrong side of try-hard, every song spilling and blurring into one another. And with interaction with the crowd minimal, there is little else to sustain my wandering attention and absolutely nothing to encourage me to give the band another whirl.
I hail a cab home with mixed feelings. Sure, it wasn’t as though I expected much in the first place, and the feeling of indifference comes as no surprise. But even so, there is definitely a lingering sense of disappointment as I realise that The Kills were tonight embarrassingly superseded by their support act – and that is a great shame.