The Kills are one of those bands that are so much better live than on record. It’s not a criticism, just an observation. I’d never seen them live before. I wouldn’t hesitate in seeing them again.
Date: October 2, 2016
Venue: Rock City
Since their debut album hit the shelves 13 years ago, The Kills have pretty much had the monopoly on scuzzy, dirty, blues-rock.
In that period the duo of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart have more or less existed beneath the radar. Hince obviously comes with an added gossip pages tag due to his estranged marriage to Kate Moss, but he’s no ‘sleb’, and they remain on the fringes of modern music culture.
But any newcomers at this gig would have received a strict education into the duo’s oeuvre.
Spanning almost two hours, backed by a drummer for added live output, there is, of course, a loyalty to their latest album, Ash and Ice, which is slicker than its predecessors.
However, starting with that album’s Heart of a Dog – a pulsing throb of punk, abetted by Jamie’s abrasive guitar – it, along with its album brethren, are beefier on stage.
Hince slammed his hand in a car door in 2013 and had to re-learn how to play guitar. Kudos to him, then, that when he picks up his axe it still sounds rapier sharp.
The dark psychedelic blues of Kissy Kissy sees Alison pick up her guitar for the first time. Her hair, by the way – a peroxide, glowing mane – is the only light within their inherent noir. Indeed it’s fair to say that The Kills are darker than a Tim Burton nightmare.
Even when they slow things down (Black Balloon, Doing It To Death) those piercing and caustic riffs make serenity impossible.
Meanwhile Baby Says is the closest thing they have to a ‘pop’ song, but with its melodies swamped by that guitar squall, while Dead Road 7 is undiluted sludge rock and set closer No Wow is just raw music.
The Kills are dark and mysterious; immersive and subversive. They killed it tonight.