April 19, 2011
Better than: sweating in a real sauna.
The early evening rain made for a swampy atmosphere at the Granada last night -- entirely appropriate for the greasy sonic assault of The Kills, who played to a packed house of ecstatic fans.
On a stage made surprisingly intimate with its animal-print backdrop, the duo of Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart set the tone for the evening with set-opener "No Wow," the title track from their 2005 album. Mosshart prowled the stage in a leopard print shirt that matched the stage's backdrop, while Hince started the evening in a black leather jacket that wasn't shed until well into their performance.
And from the first song, the audience was in the palm of their hands.
There are a couple of things that have to be said about a Kills performance. First, Hince's guitar play is a snarling, paint-peeling full-body assault. The building rattled when the band launched mid-set into "Satellite," the reggae-ish single from Blood Pressures, the band's just-released fourth album. Second, Mosshart, whether tethered to her Rickenbacker or roaming the stage with a mic, is a mesmerizing performer more than capable of making herself heard over the howl of Hince's guitars and drum tracks.
The set included songs from the bands four-album catalog, reaching back to debut Keep on Your Mean Side with "Kissy Kissy." And the band seemed to thoroughly enjoy the energy of the crowd. The initial hour-long set closed with a rousing version of "Sour Cherry," with Hince's guitar sounding like angry bees.
After a three-song encore, 70 minutes after The Kills took the stage, the audience -- maybe as sweat-soaked as the band -- exited into the humid night.
Personal Bias: Alison Mosshart, in my eyes, might be the best live performer in rock.
Random Note: The choice of the ballad-y "Last Goodbye" seemed like a risky one to kick off the encore, but the audience responded surprisingly well, with Mosshart sounding a bit like Lucinda Williams and getting huge applause.
By The Way: Mosshart banged the tom toms during "Pots and Pans," the second song of the encore. But it was the casual stick twirling at the end of the song she stepped off the riser that really showed what a rock 'n' roll animal she is.