You could fault Brighton, England quartet The Kooks for its lack of endurance and you could perhaps fault the band's soundman for a terrible, muddy mix, but you certainly can't fault The Kooks' energy and knack for a tune, especially considering the band's bassist is fairly new and the quartet performed with a stand-in drummer.
The rock and roll outfit landed at Turner Hall Ballroom Sunday night for a sold out show that was part of an international tour supporting the band's second disc, "Konk," released in April.
The Bay Area's The Morning Benders opened the show, warming up a full house with a roughly half-hour of melodic songs that conjured recent bands like Vampire Weekend and Vox Trot with a Talking Heads-style sensibility that mixes dance music with intelligent pop.
After a short break The Kooks appeared and played an all-too-brief 45-minute set that spent surprisingly little time on "Konk," in favor of tunes from its 2005 debut, "Inside In/Inside Out."
The brevity of the set may have been due to the fact that Nicholas Millard from the band Crackout performed as a stand-in for drummer Paul Garred, who is reportedly sidelined with an arm injury. Garred has returned to the U.K. to consult a doctor and is expected to return in time for the band's Boston gig on Friday.
The band also made the unusual choice of opening with the latest single, "Always Where I Need To Be," from "Konk."
Among the other tunes performed from the new record were the disc's stellar opener, "See the Sun," the very Kinks-y "Mr. Maker" and the rawk-by-numbers "Do You Wanna."
Lead singer Luke Prichard was in fine voice, despite a throat infection last month that threatened the entire tour. New bassist Dan Logan -- who recently replaced Max Rafferty -- was spot on and Hugh Harris, whose guitar was most heavily featured in the front of house mix -- to the detriment of Millard and, often, Pritchard's voice -- fueled the band.
The rest of the evening was devoted -- much to the delight of the crowd -- to "Inside In/Inside Out."
Even the four-song encore was heavy on the debut, kicking off with Pritchard performing "Seaside" and "Jackie Big T*ts" solo before Harris arrived for a duet on the alternate version of "See the Sun" and the rest of the band appeared to close out the night with a final salvo.
If The Kooks aren't rewriting the history of rock and roll, they are mashing up its past into something flavorful and addictive. While a lot of bands look back at the Small Faces and others conjure The Faces, few that can pull of both simultaneously as convincingly as these guys.
Add a dose of Bowie glam, Ray Davies' "la la la la" refrains, some modern BritPop and a classic rock and roll swagger and you've got The Kooks .
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.