In the run-up to the June 3rd release of their latest, Ash & Ice, The Kills have been touring relentlessly. The duo of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart have graced the likes of South-by-Southwest (QRO photos) in March, played two nights at Brooklyn’s Warsaw in April (QRO live review), and just did Shaky Knees in Atlanta (QRO photos). They returned to play Brooklyn just a month later for a special free show put on by Steve Madden, at Music Hall of Williamsburg (QRO venue review) on Tuesday, May 17th.
Sponsored by the fashion line/designer (who was also portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street), online tickets for the show went in a matter of minutes. Steve Madden images were displayed on the pre-show screen that was draped in front of the stage, including birthday wishes to someone named “Josh,” and there was at least one man bravely holding up a video rig to record the event. Certainly, there was particularly strong lighting, probably brought into Music Hall by either Steve Madden or the band, who were playing an intimate-for-them venue, having headlined Bowery Presents’ much bigger Terminal 5 (QRO venue review) previously (QRO live review), and will again this fall. Unsurprisingly, the place was absolutely packed, with not only a high percentage of females, but indeed a high percentage of platinum blond-to-white dyed hair akin to Mosshart’s own (think Daenerys Targaryen).
Though The Kills aren’t that many years removed from playing ‘regular’ shows at Music Hall (QRO photos of them there in ’08), and they haven’t forgotten their older material, starting the night with “No Wow” from 2005 album of the same name, and also early on playing “Kissy Kissy” from 2003 debut Keep On Your Mean Side. Yet the show was primarily a platform for the new songs, plus some recent hits. Admittedly, the more stripped down grind of “Hard Habit to Break” didn’t quite have the crowd; there was a better reaction to the in-your-face Kills of “Impossible Tracks”, plus a big response to their latest single, “Doing It To Death”, which they played on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon earlier that day/aired that night.
The Kills playing “Doing It To Death” live on Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on May 17th, 2016:
Of course, the audience went wildest for the songs they know, such as “U.R.A. Fever” from 2008’s Midnight Boom and “Heart Is a Beating Drum” off of 2011’s Blood Pressures (QRO review) early on, not to mention Boom’s “Tape Song” and “Sour Cherry” in the encore return.
There’s an interesting dichotomy to Hince & Mosshart on stage, not just between them but also within them. The raw stage sexuality that goes back throughout all rock is definitely there, whether Hince pointing out with his guitar like a phallus (hey, it worked for Prince…), or Mosshart’s jerks like the ultimate woman on top (it’s hard not to have a crush on her, whether you’re male or female). Yet just as soon as the music stops between songs, they’re like kids super-happy to be on stage, Hince more Regular Joe with a guitar and not the guy who married supermodel Kate Moss, Mosshart less the woman who tamed Jack White as half of The Dead Weather (QRO album review) and more the shy smiles of a Dawson’s Creek/pre-Tom Cruise Katie Holmes. There’s a visceral nature to them for the audience, yet little interaction with the crowd (besides thanking opener L.A. Witch and some joke between the two about moving to Brooklyn). Or even take that rhythm is such an important part of their sound, yet their touring drummer and keyboardist are young men stuck in the back in darkness (only getting to come out for the final bow, though not the pre-encore break one).
From Music Hall, The Kills continue on touring right up to the release of Ash & Ice (which does sound the title of the episode of Game of Thrones where Daenerys & Jon Snow finally meet…) and hit the road again in September, concluding on the 23rd at said Terminal 5. But this was a special night for those lucky enough to snag tickets.