Aberdeen indie rockers The Little Kicks were in spellbinding form as they brought their latest record “People Need Love” to The Hunter S Thompson on a rainy Saturday night in Dundee.
19-year-old rising star Katie Nicoll started things off with her first live performance as a full band. Katie began with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’ with a little of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ thrown in, quickly winning the almost sold-out crowd to her side. It was a short set from the youngster which included her latest single “be mine (oh my gosh)” which has recently seen airplay on Radio 1, her voice is just as incredible live as it is on the record. The set closer “easy peasy lemon squeezy” is a wonderfully catchy indie-pop track which really gets the crowd moving. Katie claims that lemons just aren’t for her but this track is certainly for us. It’s important to remember this is the first time Katie has performed live with her band, so musically it was a little rough around the edges but with those sensational vocals leading the performance, Katie’s live shows are not to be missed.
Glasgow based trio TEOSE were up next, these guys are pretty much the Scottish Wolf Alice. The group really seemed to be enjoying themselves with lead singer and guitarist Melissa Brisbane having a bit of a laugh with the crowd, despite singing songs about being depressed. A description from the band themselves ‘some good songs about a bad time’ really does fit their aesthetic. Their easy listening, chilled out tunes really seemed to resonate with the crowd. The tight sound from drummer Jordan Thomson and bassist Sean Mason gives Brisbane the freedom to play around a little and work the crowd. Their new track “Rat King” is a bit different from that trademark chill sound. The bouncy indie-rock track went down very well, I’m excited to hear the studio version. It was a strong and enjoyable performance that left me hoping to see them again sometime soon! Even if I’m still not entirely sure how TEOSE is pronounced…
And now for something completely different. Local five-piece Peal were certainly the biggest surprise of the night for me, their psychedelic alt-rock sound was absolutely mesmerising. When lead vocalist and guitarist Dan Brown greeted the crowd with the line ‘evening shaggers and shagettes’ before quoting 2003 comedy movie Bruce Almighty, I knew I was going to love this band. When Brown wasn’t interacting with the crowd, his raspy vocals filled the room sounding like a young Caleb Followhill. The band released two tracks the day before this show, “Otherside” and “Compromise” and the latter is just sensational. The track just builds and builds before hitting a mosh-pit inducing rock ‘n’ roll outro. Those heavy distorted sounds come along every other song and it balances the set really well. There’s nothing better as a music fan than when you hear something new that you just absolutely love, this was one of those moments for me. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this band.
Onto the evening’s headliners, Aberdeen’s The Little Kicks. With no offense intended to The Hunter S Thompson, which is a brilliant little place by the way, these guys deserve to be playing in much, much bigger venues. It’s honestly baffling, they were genuinely incredible to watch. The Little Kicks put out their first album back in 2009 and now they’re touring their fifth album “People Need Love”. That album was understandably the focus of this show but three of the opening four tracks came from the 2017 album ‘Shake Off Your Troubles.’ “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” was played slightly heavier and at a slightly higher tempo than it’s recorded version, making it the perfect opening track, really getting the crowd warmed up, even if it had somewhat dwindled in number. Singer Stevie Milne switched out his guitar for a keyboard for the next few which included “Girl” from third album ‘Put Your Love in Front of Me’, “Goodbye Enemies, Hello Friends” and “You and Someone Like Me” from the 2017 release. All clear fan favourites from previous albums.
Almost the entirety of the set after this point was dedicated to the latest album. Opening track “Ruminations” features beautifully written lyrics and a smooth melody and is immediately followed up by an energetic shot in the arm in the form of “Right To Be Here”. The Cairn String Quartet had joined the boys onstage for a few nights on this tour and this is one track I really would have loved to have heard with the strings but unfortunately they couldn’t join us on this occasion. “Dracula” was up next and this one is a proper live track, one to really get the crowd moving. Guitarist Toby Brunning and drummer Bob Turner really shine in this track, with a guitar sound reminiscent of Nile Rodgers and drums fills a-plenty, it’s a great moment in the set. There was some technical issues before this song which led to Stevie temporarily using his keyboard lead in his guitar which meant his guitar solo didn’t quite have the right impact. The rest of the band weren’t having this though and as soon as the lead was replaced the band performed the guitar solo section again for Stevie to have his solo, to thunderous applause. He then remarked that it was the biggest cheer he’d ever received for his guitar playing.
The indie outfit continued to work their way through their latest release with “On and On” and it’s instrumental follow up “On and On and On”. The former being a beautiful track built around the string sounds, played on the keyboard in the absence of the live string quartet, and builds to a layered finish with overlapping vocals. The latter of these two is a bouncy disco track designed to keep the crowd moving as the boys enjoy themselves with a little jam session. “Wake Up Entertainment” and “People Need Love” are the last two tracks from the album, the latter being a sing along ballad, giving the crowd a breather before the finale. The set finished with a trip back to the 2013 album with a nine-minute combination of “Heartbreak, Pt. 1” and “Heartbreak, Pt. 2”. It’s a set closer worthy of, well any band really. It has that sort of epic feel to it that you only get from those songs that are pushing the ten-minute mark. It was a spectacular performance from The Little Kicks to round off an evening of spectacular performances. The crowd was truly spoiled, all four acts gave their all, it was an absolute pleasure to witness.