Live Recap: Barns Courtney and The Kooks at The Riviera 02.21.19
This past Thursday night, The Kooks returned to Chicago for the first time since the release of their fifth studio album, Let’s Go Sunshine.
After Future Feats opened up the show, singer-songwriter Barns Courtney warmed up the packed house, getting everyone ready for The Kooks with a blaze of energy. Courtney burst onto the stage to join his live band as they opened up with an unreleased track “Fun Never Ends.” The high energy song set up the crowd to expect a good time from Courtney’s set, and he definitely lived up to that expectation as he sang through songs from his debut album and some new singles. As Courtney sauntered across the stage and put his all into his music, an appreciative fan shouted “you’re the coolest person ever!” Based on the amount of audience members dancing and singing along, both on the floor and in the balcony, it seemed that most agreed with the enthusiastic fan. The spirit of Courtney’s set culminated during the final few songs “Kicks” and “Fire,” in which the singer first crowd surfed, and then finished out the set singing the latter in the middle of the crowd.
Needless to say, Barns Courtney’s set left the crowd buzzing and ready for The Kooks, who hit the stage performing one of their classics “Always Where I Need To Be.” From their years of playing together, the band members had a sense of chemistry and ease about them that perfectly complemented lead singer Luke Pritchard’s captivating stage presence. Alongside the band’s long history of playing together and their lengthy setlist that pulled songs from every chapter of their extensive discography, The Kooks also had an impressive light show that added another special touch to their live show without being overpowering.
While the mood remained very energetic for most of the night, allowing for Pritchard to show off his dance moves, the set did slow down during the performance of “See Me Now” from 2014’s Listen, which Pritchard dedicated to his late father. Pritchard performed the emotional song at the piano, sans his bandmates. Although a hush fell over the crowd during this song, with everyone giving their undivided attention to the stage, the energy quickly picked back up when the full band rejoined Pritchard for “Pamela” from the latest album. While the band members kept their onstage chatting to a minimum in order to focus on the music, they didn’t shy away from fleshing out their songs with special, one-of-a-kind live arrangements. During “Bad Habit,” the band extended the introduction as Pritchard and the audience members partook in a call-and-response style chant, and during “Seaside,” the audience sounded like a choir backup Pritchard’s vocals in the simple song.
Eventually the time came for The Kooks to leave the stage, but it didn’t take long for the crowd to request an encore performance. Instead of the traditional “one more song!” or “encore!” chants, the crowd asked for the band to return by chanting the vocalized introduction to “Bad Habit” once again. The band obliged and returned with “No Pressure” and “Naive.” Before they began the final song of the night, Pritchard dedicated that night’s performance of the 2006 single to fan named Jeffery, giving one lucky fan a very special memory of the evening.
The Kooks wrap up their North American tour this week— see their live dates here, and check out our photo recap of Thursday night below.