Blue Balls Festival, KKL Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland • July 20, 2012
About nine years ago I received a promotional CD as part of my volunteer reviewer position for one of the local webzines. I had no idea who that band was, but from the very first song, my ears were hypnotized. Twelve songs later, I was under a musical spell. This was Keep On Your Mean Side, the debut album of The Kills.
My urge to see The Kills live began right then, but I managed to do it for the first time just last year, and since then, it’s been hard to stop.
This is my third time seeing them live. This time it’s in the city of Luzern, Switzerland as part of the city’s annual Blue Balls Festival, and I keep thinking that thanks to them I get to travel to all these beautiful places and meet all these amazing people who, like me, feel very passionate about the Kills and their music.
My hometown in Israel suffers an extremely hot summer, but here in Luzern it’s raining hard as I walk into KKL Luzern, the city’s biggest concert hall. There isn’t any leopard decor, but the drums are set, and I am ready.
“No Wow” (from their second studio album by the same name) has been the first song in every set list I’ve heard in the last couple of years. I can understand why: It’s the perfect song to accompany Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart as they step on stage and turn it from a silent and empty space to a colorful and lively setting that people cannot take their eyes off of. One blink and you’re missing out on something.
“Future Starts Slow” comes next. It’s the opening track of The Kills’ most recent album (Blood Pressures, 2011) and probably one of my favorites. This song is so powerful and addictive that I find myself dancing to the beat instead of shooting [pictures of] the band. They go on with some other songs from their latest album (“Heart is a Beating Drum,” “DNA,” “Satellite”) and in-between they perform one of their old and best ones, “Kissy Kissy” (from their debut album). No Kills concert is complete without that song!
What strikes me the most in their concert, in general, is Alison and Jamie’s stage presence. They are naturally born for this. Natural Born Killers. They both know how to move, how to dance, how to make every person in the audience stand and listen. Jamie is playing the guitar in a way that sends unseen pulses into Alison’s body, so it seems, and she moves to the rhythm, with no inhibitions. She is a human magnet.
Halfway through the concert, before “Baby Says,” the drum machine gets stuck and keeps playing the same loop. I get nervous but not Alison and Jamie. They are not this kind of people. Jamie plugs and unplugs stuff while Alison walks around the stage, spits, and curses. For a moment there I was sure that they would go offstage, but after some crowd cheering and unheard prayers, the machine works again. The order of the songs is changed, but to my relief the gig goes on!
They play “Black Balloon,” “Tape Song,” and “Last Day of Magic” (from Midnight Boom, 2008) and I realize that my last day in Switzerland is the next day. Back to reality. But before, I try to absorb an endless dosage of The Kills. Alison is a whirlwind of emotions and Jamie is aiming his guitar at her and shoots a transparent arrow into her restless body, just a bit before they play “Pots and Pans” (with Alison on drums) and “Sour Cherry.” Too soon they’re leaving the stage, and leaving the crowd craving more.
They come back to the crowd’s loud clapping and screaming, singing two of their biggest anthems, “Fuck the People” (which Jamie dedicates to complications of people, life, and technical issues) and “Monkey 23” which slows down the pace a little and ends the show.
In a recent interview, Jamie said that “music carries us through.” Music carried us through the technical problems that happened during this gig and proved his theory right.
The Kills are a band that never fails to surprise me. It seems like they are getting better as time goes by. Their relationship is inexplicable; they understand each other without the need for any kind of verbal communication. They have been together for more than ten years, and as Jamie puts it, Alison and he will keep doing the Kills for as long as they live. AMEN.
The Kills: www.thekills.tv