HomeMusicThe Kooks, Barns Courtney Electrify the Hollywood Palladium With Sold-Out Show

The Kooks, Barns Courtney Electrify the Hollywood Palladium With Sold-Out Show

Pop Break Live: The Kooks with Barns Courtney at The Hollywood Palladium

There’s nothing like following a band you love for over a decade – only to realize that playing live and making music better than they ever had before. The Kooks – who first burst onto the indie rock scene fresh from Brighton, England in 2006 with their smashing debut Inside In/Inside Out – recently sold-out the Hollywood Palladium with style and the type of setlist fans dream about.

Opening acts Future Feats and Barns Courtney perfectly complemented the evening’s headliner with high energy and big sounds. Los Angeles-based band Future Feats embodied the sound of Foster the People with even higher energy. Despite the Palladium’s modest space, Future Feats transformed the room into what felt like an arena with huge, singalong choruses, electrifying stage presence, and plenty of potential for radio hits.

Feeding off the spirits of both the crowd and Future Feats, Barns Courtney brought insanely high energy to the stage. As if he was impossible to pin down, Courtney practically ran back and forth across the stage singing into the microphone as the fringes of his leather jacket trailed behind him. With a stage presence akin to Luke Spiller of The Struts, Courtney held back very little – everything from jazz hands to twisted facial expressions paired with mega hits like “Glitter & Gold” perfectly. His soulful voice, edgy persona, and unique twist of dark acoustic beats alongside gritty rock feels reminiscent of a young Jack White. It’s no wonder that tracks like “Fire” and “Kicks” brought down the house; Barns Courtney is a star.

With such sharp and lively opening acts, The Kooks started their show with a completely primed audience. It was almost difficult to hear lead singer Luke Pritchard over the first few rows of fans crowding around the front, which always makes for a good show. It was quite clear almost immediately how much the Kooks have grown as performers over the last 13 or so years. Once the stage was stripped back and only the Kooks equipment remained, the band filled the space like they were arena rock legends. Everyone had their own domain and stuck to it nicely. Pritchard danced around with the mic stand as guitarist Hugh Harris handled every electric melody with ease. The guys looked comfortable on stage and gave off the air of maturity; they’ve grown so much since their first few records and it’s impressive to see what they are now.

In terms of musicianship, the Kooks continue to wear their influences on their sleeves – which suits the audience just fine. There are still hints of English post-punk rock akin to their early contemporaries Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs, sure, but there’s also evidence of range and experimentation. Classic Brit-pop-infused tracks like “She Moves In Her Own Way” received just as much fanfare from the crowd as the newer tune “All The Time,” whose bassline sounds a ton like The Killers’ funky disco hit “The Man.” “Four Leaf Clover” is a recent single that feels most reminiscent of the band’s earliest work, but then something like “No Pressure” from the same record feels like it’s straight out of a nostalgic summertime version of the early 60’s. It’s practically overwhelming how each and every Kooks song has such a clear and catchy chorus. The songwriting craft the band brings to the table can only rival their strong stage presence.

It really says a lot about a band that’s not only been regularly releasing and performing music over the last decade, but continually releasing and performing good music. Tracks from 2018’s Let’s Go Sunshine record highlight the band’s growth as songwriters as well as prove how well the Kooks know themselves. Despite playing a diverse batch of songs across half a dozen albums, the Kooks always manage to sound exactly like the Kooks. They’ve managed to mature and grow without losing the part of them that was so perfectly captured on Inside In/Inside Out. And, to me, there’s nothing more admirable than that.


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