The Kills Bring Spunk to the Trocadero Theatre

“Good evening, Philadelphia,” says Alison Mosshart, delicate and sweet. “It’s nice to see you.” She smiles and waits for bandmate Jamie Hince to pick up his guitar. As soon as the music begins, Mosshart transforms. No longer is she the soft-spoken woman who waved at her fans as she walked on stage– when the lights dim, Alison Mosshart becomes poised and enrapturing.

The Kills haven’t released an album since the gritty, yet melodic Blood Pressures in 2011, and they’ve been playing the same fifteen or so songs at all of their shows, but the recurring performance is still compelling. The garage rock duo can’t be blamed for sticking to what they know–about two years ago, guitarist Jamie Hince lost use of his middle finger in an accident and had to reteach himself how to play guitar. Despite his struggles, Hince’s musicianship has not faltered, though The Kills are only able to play short tour legs as a result.

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The Kills open with “U.R.A. Fever,” the first song off of their third album Midnight BoomMosshart and Hince complement each other vocally without effort, and it’s immediately clear how comfortable they are with each other. They continue with “Future Starts Slow,” the opening song and single from Blood Pressures, and then move on to “Heart Is A Beating Drum,” which Alison plays guitar on. Through out the show, she plays keyboard and bass drums as well, showing off her multi-instrumental musical talent.

If the chemistry between The Kills hadn’t been blatantly present already, it only became more apparent in “Kissy Kissy,” a bluesy song from the 2003 debut Keep on Your Mean Side. The song stands out in the set with its dramatic build-up and flawless dueling vocals. The interaction between Alison’s harsh, sultry voice and Jamie’s soft, British sound create something unmatchable and wholly unique to The Kills.

Before soloing on “Kissy Kissy,” Mosshart does a 360 spin and slides into a Velvet Underground-like riff (The Kills have been known to cover songs like “I’m Set Free,” “Venus in Furs,” and “Pale Blue Eyes,” and the Velvet Underground influence on their music is noticeable). Though she wears deadly high heels, Mosshart still manages to groove around stage, jumping, sliding on her knees, and sitting on top of amps. Between the leopard print backdrop and her claw-like silver nails, Mosshart resembles an animal, thrashing her bleached blonde hair around and wailing impressive vocals into her microphone.

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It was by a stroke of luck that Mosshart and Hince came together to make music. A native Floridian, Mosshart had overheard Hince playing guitar in his London flat and couldn’t resist following the music she heard. Once she returned to Florida, Mosshart and Hince exchanged musical ideas via Internet until Mosshart could afford to move to London. Since then, the lo-fi punk duo have released four albums filled with plenty of hits.

“Play ‘Black Balloon!'” shouts a man in the crowd, referencing the standout single from Midnight Boom. Alison looks up from her guitar, pauses for a second, and says, “Well, alright,” to the crowd’s surprise.

Though they’ve been playing for over a decade, The Kills aren’t prone to stage banter. They prefer to engage the crowd with their music, rather than with their speech. At times, though, Mosshart will address the crowd.

As Hince and the two back-up drummers play the intro to “Tape Song,” Mosshart skips around the stage. “Sorry,” she says, stopping the music. “I had a weird daydream.” In the next song, “Last Day of Magic,” the music stops abruptly once more. “Daydream again,” says Mosshart. When the crowd cheers at the end of the song, Hince raises his red solo cup for a silent toast.

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When The Kills play “Pots and Pans,” the last song off of Blood Pressures, Mosshart moves to a bass drum in the back of the stage. At the end of their set, Mosshart and Hince put their arms around each other and bow, a classic element of their performances.

In a four song encore, The Kills return to the older music in their catalog, playing “No Wow,” “Fried My Little Brains,” and “Sour Cherry.” Fittingly, they finish the show with “Last Goodbye.” Again, Mosshart and Hince hug and bow– but this time, they are joined by their two backup drummers.

In one of the few times she speaks all night, Alison Mosshart says,”You guys have been absolutely wonderful,” transitioning back into her more reserved, softer self after an hour and a half of animalistic thrashing.

Are you excited about The Kills recording a fifth album? Let us know below in the comments. In the meantime, check out the music video for “Future Starts Slow.”

 

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