THE KILLS wsg The U.S. Girls
The Majestic Theatre in Detroit December 10th 2014
by Jeff Howitt for MOTORCITYBLOG
The last time I saw The Kills live was in 2003 at Club Congress in Tucson, Arizona. A great venue built into the classic Hotel Congress. I had seen them some months before at Modified Arts in downtown Phoenix after reading a brief interview with them where they decided to leave England and do a North American tour because Alison’s visa was up.
I loved their cavalier sense of being in a band.
It seemed more like a lifestyle choice or a vacation to them.
My friend and future band mate “Jelly Roll” Joel McCune who sang and played guitar in The Hypno‐Twists during this period had just returned from a tour of England and had opened for them at The Dirty Water.
I remember Joel had brought along a vintage Czechoslovakian guitar he had just bought that he and Jamie Hince were checking out. The Hypno‐Twists while across the pond had recorded Glyn Road their final, vinyl only release as a band at Toe Rag Studios with Liam Watson where The Kills had just put together Keep On Your Mean Side as well as where The White Stripes did Elephant.
Photos by Carjack
I thought they were great despite the soundman’s nearly set long attempt to mix drum machines and gritty guitars at a time where not many bands had that sort of sonic recipe. A decade later, the duo having survived the much hyped Dead Weather franchise are looking at their sixth release (if you count the original “Black Rooster” EP).
I was worried I’d find an aloof performance
but what happened on that stage was nowhere close to distant.
Starting with the opening band, U.S. Girls, a project fronted by Meghan Remy who vocally is a cross between Ronnie Spector’s warm, throaty delivery and Yoko Ono’s avant‐garde vocal hysterics. Though the album, Free Advice Column, is a little different than the full six piece live band that often paraded itself heavily, it still is a testament of her studio and programming prowess. One cool surprise was when they
closed their set with “Dancing in the Dark” by Springsteen without irony. Meghan hails from Chicago but relocated to Toronto to keep up with the demands of showbiz as I found out talking to her at the merch table. I mention The Sadies, who in my mind are Canada’s greatest export these days and she excitedly recounted that she had just seen them do Alice Cooper’s classic record Love It To Death in it’s entirety and felt like she had just “seen something”. I wish they’d bring that to Detroit!
While the stage was stark and black for U.S. Girls the The Kills set up revolved around a leopard print backdrop that kept it’s spots while flashing and throbbing into various colors once they took the stage to “Sour Cherry” from Midnight Boom. “Future Starts Slow” and “Heart Is A Beating Drum” from the
excellent Blood Pressures walk right in step. In addition to their trademark drum machine providing the terrain of the songs they also had two leather jacketed floor tom drummers who accented the beat.
On a few songs when they weren’t needed they would hold there drum sticks in X’s over their heads and in milder poses with their backs turned to the audience
that invoked indifference, respect and power.
Photos by Carjack
“Tape Song”, another track from Midnight Boom, “Kissy Kissy” from Keep On Your Mean Side and the title track to No Wow have Alison Mosshart going from purely vocals to playing keys and shadowing six string king Hince when they both play guitars. At one point a stage diver pauses for a picture or a holla from his buds and just as he about to be sacked into the crowd by security Hince remarks “Naw, let him do it!” to much applause. The stage dive becomes more a slow rolling over and he opines, “Uh, best stage dive ever!” to laughter. They keep their set moving with two more from Blood Pressures, “Satellite” and “Baby Says” as it builds upon itself with “Black Balloon” from Midnight Boom and also deconstructs narrative to narrative. Beat to riff with “DNA” and “Pots and Pans” also from Blood Pressures. Alison is making eye contact the whole time with it seems every face in the crowd. Little smiles of recognition and wonder bubble up in her own visage. She often lifts her hair for a clearer view. Before I know it she is singing “It’s the monkey on your back/That makes you act like that” after an extended guitar intro from Hince for “Monkey 23” and the stage is empty. Loving cheers fill the air. The duo returns to the stage with another from Blood Pressures “The Last Goodbye”, “Last Day Of Magic” from Midnight Boom and finally do say goodbye with “Fried My Little Brains” from Keep On Your Mean Side. The two Greaser themed auxiliary drummers bring Hince and Mosshart a couple hard earned High Life and ultimately they all bow from the stages edge together. I feel like I just had “seen something”.