After an incredibly slow start to 2013, I finally have my first show on the board, and as always, when it rains it pours and I will now make up for lost time with 3 more shows over the next 6 days.
But first things first, tonight was all about the Cold War Kids. Okay, maybe it was also partly about a beer and steak with a couple of other Aussies, and breathing in the air of my favourite venue once again. But it was the Cold War Kids who drew me in off the street on a gorgeous spring evening in Amsterdam.
I had seen the Cold War Kids a couple of times before going into this show and had mixed results. Back in 2008 I had been blown away by them at this same venue (which, incidentally, was the show that their ‘Live from the Paradiso’ EP was recorded at – you can hear me clapping toward the end of the second song. Maybe). But in 2009 I made the trip down to Utrecht and had walked away far less enthusiastic about them.
The evening opened with Milo Greene, a 5 piece band out LA who were enjoyable if not entirely memorable. They appeared to have 4 lead singers/multi-instrumentalists who continually traded places/instruments. And while they all came across as rather talented, they seemed to lack a distinctive sound or feel with these continual changes in direction.
On the flip side, I thought their drummer was amazing and carried the band for much of the show. The lesson perhaps being, stick to one thing and be really good at it rather than being pretty good at lots of things. I will also give them bonus points for a quality cover of Sufjan Stevens ‘Chicago’ which I thought was a highlight – particularly the drumming!
It might not be very Rock n’ Roll, but I love a punctual band. And right on time the on-stage roadie gave the sound desk two quick flashes from his torch, the house lights dimmed, the almost sold-out crowd cheered and out came and another 5 men from LA, this time the ones we had all paid to see.
And it has to be said – they rocked! From a distance the band themselves look about as ‘Rock n Roll’ as their own punctuality, but their sound swings from tight jam band to loose and chaotic. Nathan Willett’s voice is an instrument unto itself, full of power and with amazing range.
What was not expected but came as a very pleasant surprise was to hear 5 tracks off their debut album Robbers and Cowards, still my personal favorite and clearly I was not alone with some good crowd participation. Hang Me out to Dry, We Used to Vacation and Hospital Beds have lost nothing in the seven years since their release. I think part of the disappointment I had experienced last time was the lack of energy in the older songs, so I was impressed with the renewed enthusiasm the band attacked these songs with this time around.
The length of the set was a little disappointing, with only an hour for the main set and then a two song encore. I felt with 4 albums and numerous EP’s behind them they could have easily thrown in a couple more songs. Or even a cover – another version of Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gunna Come as released on the previously mention Live at the Paradiso EP could have been a nice ‘local’ touch.
They finished the encore with a pretty crazy, slightly off key jam version of Saint John. At the start I thought it was a little hard to get into, but it found its rhythm and the band seemed to enjoy it, so full credit to them for having some fun with an ‘old classic’.
The best thing I can say about the night is that everyone was a winner. The crowd enjoyed it, the band looked like they were having a good time up on stage, I loved hearing some of the older songs and I’m now pretty excited to get into the new album. Add to that some cold beer, a good steak and some great company and it was a night I would be happy to sign-up to any day of the week.