The Kills, Louis XIV @ The Zoo, Brisbane 30 March, 2009
Author: Stephen Goodwin
Normally, hitching your music and performance to a hotted-up click track would be a recipe for constriction. For stodgy, uninspired boredom.
A mere 60 minutes with Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart utterly destroys this perception.
For sure, dispensing with the rhythm section for an out-of-the-box click track is an anchor.
But, paradoxically, the song-to-song invariability it confers is freeing in the hands of the Kills. In fact, it’s not so much a deadweight as a barebones framework the duo inject themselves into with such physical and emotional extremity that it’s surprising their songs don’t simply burst.
It’s etched in the moment when Hince lazily sways back and, between riffs, thumps an extra layer of percussion into Kissy Kissy through the bodywork of his six-string.
It’s lurking down among Mosshart’s desperate drags at her cigarette and her exaggerated crack-whore panting on Getting Down.
And it’s encapsulated in the way they disappear into the music to the exclusion of everything except themselves when they face each other to duet Last Day Of Magic.
It frees them to go absolutely hell for leather and make the songs exceed the sum of their individual parts every time. Which is all just a fancy way of saying that they kick 10 times more arse live.
Fundamentally, The Kills is about highly controlled musical aggression that masquerades as rock ‘n roller control loss. Tonight, there’s a little too much restraint initially, and the opening trio U.R.A. Fever, Pull A U and Sour Cherry feel a little underdone as a result.
Not that the near-capacity crowd cares a whit judging from its enthusiastic response from the get-go.
Happily, the pair loosen up quickly, and the on-stage temperature rapidly escalates as they turn out white-hot renditions of the majority of recent release Midnight Boom. And it doesn’t hurt that Hince seems to possess an innate ability to make his guitar growl with the deep and irresistible sexiness of a V8.
Only a few songs feature from earlier releases. It’s testimony to the jagged beauty of the duo’s songwriting that no loss is felt. But of these, the flat-to-the-floor menace of Fried My Little Brains takes first place.
The night’s denouement is a acrid, crackling rendition of Dropout Boogie that climaxes with Hince sliding his hand spasmodically along the neck of his six-string, non-too-subtly aping a masturbatory fervour. As he collapses in a twitching, jerking heap, with the music exploding jaggedly around him, Mosshart seats herself on the front-of-stage monitors to watch. Her ice-cool detachment as she calmly takes and drag and observes Hince’s petit mort must rate as one of the hottest instances of gender role reversal you will ever see.
Pull A U
Last Day of Magic
Hook and Line
Cheap and Cheerful
Fried My Little Brains
Put a Spell on You
Goodnight Bad Morning
Author: Stephen Goodwin