The show is consistently brilliant: guitar pyrotechnics from Hince, sultry stage stalking from singer Alison Mosshart.
Ogden Theatre, Denver
The Kills brought high energy to Denver Friday night on the heels of their new album, Ashes and Ice. The long, drama-filled path between 2011’s Blood Pressures and this is best left to tabloids and medical journals. Jamie Hince—guitarist, vocalist, and fashion plate—went through some rough years, having injured both his hand, in a freak car door accident, and his heart, by marrying and, subsequently, divorcing Kate Moss.
But the band left all that behind when they took the stage. Their trot on stage (with a bassist and drummer in tow) was done the same way a beloved family member comes home from an extended trip. The Kills appeared in Denver last August at this same venue, and picked up essentially where they left off. While it would be easy to say the Kills have an act that is relatively consistent—guitar pyrotechnics from Hince, sultry stage stalking from singer Alison Mosshart—it is important to point out that the show is consistently brilliant. Hince’s playing often seem effortless, but the guy brings each chord alive with its own unique character, making you feel like there is nothing but him and his guitar.
Mosshart, who is probably the busiest singer in the music business (she also performs with the Dead Weather), has her own special brand of cool. In an age where less is more in stage apparel, she chooses to dress like an especially hot suburban mom, out for a night on the town. This is not snark; I think she is dressed to get the job done and put front and center what is most important: the music. Like Hince she totally involves herself in every note and nuance of the songs. At times, she gyrates and dances to the rhythms her partner puts out, other times blasting out verses in a truly great rock voice. My favorite moments of the show were those in which Hince was lost in some guitar antics and Mosshart simply sat on the drum riser, appreciating his skills and sharing an affection that radiates out to the audience.
The Kills offered a very straightforward workmanlike set, delivering some of the hits and but mostly showing the growth evidenced by their new album. The set, which front-loaded some of the band’s bigger hits but left many out (no “This Is the Last Goodbye”), never seemed to lack for energy, and held the very appreciative audience in the palm of its hand. Their show featured a little more panache the last time they hit the Ogden, when two drummers played something akin to the world’s largest kettle drums; this time, though, the band was happy to come out and play show-and-tell with Ashes and Ice (due for release June 3via Domino) with a large chunk of the tracks comprising the set.
Songs like “Doing it to Death” (first single) and “Siberian Nights” (which was actually written during Hince’s travel on the Trans-Siberian Express) fit in well with the Kills’ previous hits, but showed an emotional growth for the two rock veterans. While their show features all the energy any fan could want, the duo seemed a bit more introspective. At 47, Hince plays with a passion, rolling emotion into his guitarwork, while Mosshart seems more willing to let her lyrics do the talking—though, thankfully, not drawing back on any of her vocal bravado.
Opening act L.A. Witch was mostly a conglomeration of the current retro sounds (fuzzed-out shoegaze, with a lot of punked-out Hope Sandoval), but they were fun to watch, especially for the wild drumming of Ellie English. Hopefully, they will find a more unique voice as they move along in their career. | Jim Dunn
Photo by Kenneth Capello