The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince showed off range and versatility in a blistering Brooklyn set showcasing the band’s two-decade-plus career.
As soon as The Kills take the stage to thunderous applause, whoops and cheers, you might say it’s game on.
The veteran rock duo, first a part of the early-aughts garage rock revival and now industry vets with a varied and deep catalog, left nothing to chance during a recent, rollicking Saturday night at steel factory-turned-concert venue Brooklyn Steel.
Saturday’s outing was the second of the weekend for The Kills, who sold out Friday night in Brooklyn and played to a slightly smaller, yet no less enthusiastic, Saturday night crowd.
Alison Mosshart’s energy is infectious and harkens back to the days of classic rock – she never stands still, she bounds onto amplifiers and reaches toward the crowd, she croons softly and howls wildly in equal measure. It’s electrifying, to say the least.
Mosshart and Londoner Jamie Hince are no strangers to the stage, or to collaboration: The Kills’ five studio albums (the most recent being 2016’s Ash & Ice) have showcased everything from sleazy garage rock to sludgy, thumping anthems and even a delicate-yet-rocking ballad (like “Baby Says,” which delighted the Brooklyn crowd six songs into the set).
2005 banger “No Wow” kicked off the evening, with Mosshart stalking the stage and Hince kicking things into high gear, dressed tastefully in slim black trousers and white horsebit loafers (plus retro, white Adidas three-stripe socks).
The opener was a fitting one – the track hails from the just-reissued 2005 album of the same name.
Mosshart looked every part the fierce rocker, clad in slim leather trousers and a supremely cool black-and-white polka dot shirt.
Blistering renditions of “Murdermile” and “Kissy Kissy” riled up the crowd suitably, while 2016’s “Impossible Tracks” led nicely into a sweet, soulfully tinged and yet rocking rendition of the fan favorite, “Baby Says.”
“Rodeo Town” proved a nice throwback, with Mosshart noting that the duo penned that number “a million years ago,” while “Love Is A Deserter” showcased what The Kills do best: Blend garage rock with dance rock sensibilities, resulting in a track that’s tight, compact, angular and a serious crowd pleaser.
At one point in the evening, early on in the festivities, the amiable Hince remarked on his “out of tune” guitar, yet it sounded anything but out of tune (just ask the first few rows up against the barrier, who couldn’t get enough of Hince’s slinky, sharp guitar work).
For as much as The Kills know how to rock, they also know how to dial things back suitably – as best showcased on the stately, surprisingly elegant and beautifully sad “The Last Goodbye,” which showcased Mosshart’s deep vocal range.
The song’s defining line surely struck a chord: “I can’t get by on an odds and ends love that don’t match up.”
Spiky guitars were fully back in the mix the next song out, “Black Balloons,” while Mosshart left another lasting impact on “Hard Habit to Break,” another song that allowed the duo to showcase their garage rock chops.
Smash hit “Doing It to Death” saw scarcely a still body in the crowd, while “Pots and Pans” provided perhaps the most fitting moment of the night – Mosshart’s refrain, “These are the days we’ll never forget” is, without a doubt, a memorable reminder of the beauty of the NYC music scene, especially after so many canceled pandemic-era shows.
The Kills kept turning back the clock during a much-welcomed four-song encore, closing the set with the mid-aughts rager “Sour Cherry” (note: the lyric “shout when you wanna get off the ride” – few seemed to want the night to end).
That wasn’t the only surprise in store, though: The distinctive hand-clap beat and the thrumming guitar of “At the Back of the Shell” were as characteristic of The Kills as any song of the evening.
Perhaps the most striking moment came at the very end of the night: Mosshart and Hince bowed arm-in-arm, thanked the crowd, smiled and waved – and then walked off into the night, overcome with gratitude. It’s a safe bet to say the assembled Brooklyn crowd felt the same way.
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