If rock was ever deceased at some point, The Kills are it’s unruly resurrection. Celebrating their 15th anniversary with a slew of shows that included a stop at the newly opened House of Blues in Anaheim, duo Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince consecrated the legendary venue with their rhythmic shredding. A band of dualities, The Kills not only bridge the gaps between American blues-rock and English garage, but also split the difference between that hot and grimy sensuality that seems to glue it all together. Raucous in nature, Mosshart and Hince mince no words and waste no time in making it perfectly clear that they were put on this earth to melt your face and get your ass shaking.
Mosshart lead by example, taking the large House of Blues stage and strutting her way through the feverish delirium of Hince’s riffs. Leaning on her microphone stand, whipping her lion-mane of hair around, Mosshart takes on all the contradicting personas of The Kills tunes and lays them bare onstage. Ferocious in every sentiment, from her vulnerability, lust, love, and melancholy, The Kills have no qualms in offering up all the gritty details of dysfunctional passions. Hitting all the favorites and even playing a few songs from their very first album, the duo enticed fans with a large play through of their most recent release, Ash & Ice. Bouncing through the hip-bumping, fatalistic sensuality of “Doing It To Death,” Mosshart is a veritable goddess of rock, taking all the inflamed heartaches and desperate devotions and releasing them in a flurry of wild-eyed possessions.
For anyone who weeps for the lacking presence of bone-biting, soul burning rock ‘n’ roll that seems apparent in a music landscape dominated by pop, The Kills remain an emphatic reminder that it’s still around. Mosshart isn’t just the band’s vocal frontwoman and is no stranger to shoulder a guitar herself to tear up a few hot licks with Hince; together the two bleed out in the sweatiest of fashions an ingrained hallmark to the melodically crazed rock of the 70s and 80s, not without their bluesy flavors either (“Bitter Fruit”).
For The Kills, it’s not just about sounding good, which they do–every riff dripping with honeyed fire and each hoarse croon from Mosshart shaking fans in bewitchment–it’s about leaving the venue drained, so blissfully exhausted of all emotion because in the span of close to two hours they let it all gush into the crowd. At one point during their encore, Mosshart proceeded to lie on the floor, leaning against a speaker as she continued to sing–only to have Hince join her moments later still playing his guitar. One of the few moments of calm throughout the night, Mosshart’s hair a whip of sweat as she batted it around, but it was more than just a mechanical need to head-bang. The Kills get fans dancing, seducing slyly with coy and evocative riffs on songs like “Let It Drop” and “Siberian Nights,” while Mosshart shakes her body to the gut-punching drops of percussion. A thunderstorm in her own right, Mosshart seduces as well as she inspires, pushing the crowd to the edges of their deep-seated passions and forcing them to claw, and then face, the source of their self-destructive or self-empowering natures.
For much of the night, all you could see of Mosshart or Hince–when they weren’t leaning our over the crowd on the edge of the stage sending screams through those below–were their silhouettes as bright house lights burst and flashed in blinding, strobing whites and neons. Illuminated as wild shadows, The Kills cut and invigorated like bolts of lightning behind the cloudy, smoke-filled stage that they flailed on. There was no wind down, no quieting moment of release, just the sound and the fury–and then it was over.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward