Reviewed onTuesday July 26
Somewhere in the middle of ‘Heart Of A Dog’, the second single from their new album Ash & Ice, The Kills reach peak cool. Alison Mosshart bares her teeth something animalistic in between lyrics, while Jamie Hince shreds away on his six-string. And for a fleeting moment, the coolest duo in modern music steps up to another level entirely.
This performance of ‘Heart Of A Dog’ arrives early in The Kills’ Sydney sideshow following their triumphant set at Splendour In The Grass over the weekend, and the audience appears to be split between diehard fans and newcomers who’ve decided to check out what the fuss is about. Save for the pocket of long-termers at the front, Mosshart and Hince have to work bloody hard to get this Tuesday night crowd onside. And boy, do they work hard.
They’re backed by a drummer and bassist/keys man tonight, where previously they’ve relied on Hince’s drum machine to do the heavy lifting. It’s a more traditional rock band set-up, and it makes for a newly fluid sound, but there’s really nowhere else to look except for the leading pair. The lithe frontwoman Mosshart and the all-about-attitude Hince are the modern-day Jagger and Richards; no pose is spared, no posture neglected.
It may seem like pure showbiz – all these moves are straight out of the rock star playbook, to be sure – but there’s something so infectious about it all. Mosshart and Hince seem entirely possessed by the music they churn out of a guitar or two, some pedals and their muscular voices. The atmosphere carries throughout the theatre – the floor is positively throbbing through songs like ‘DNA’ – but nobody in the audience really lets themselves go like the performers do.
‘Baby Says’ is a highlight in a setlist otherwise tipped a little too heavily in favour of new material, though the older encores ‘Fried My Little Brains’ and ‘Sour Cherry’ are enough to satisfy the quota of classics. And just like that, they’re off; Hince and Mosshart strut their way offstage, and the fans pop their collars on their way out of the theatre, all feeling that little bit cooler than when they walked in.