Miles Kane – Live Review – Hull University
By David Schuster, November 2019
You can’t accuse Miles Kane of time wasting. There’s no generic, “Hello (place name)” or even “It’s great to be here”, (for when you can’t remember where you’re playing). He and the band walk on stage, grab the instruments by the throat and hurl themselves into a machine gun fast ‘Too Little Too Late’. The musicians finish spot on the beat and, without a pause for breath, move straight onto ‘Inhaler’. By the time they are into the third searing number, ‘Give Up’, I’m wondering if he’s going to pause to speak at all. Not that it’s necessary; the performance is electrifying.
Beneath the neon Coup De Grace sign, Kane looks every inch the frontman: White jacket, black jeans, white trainers (natch) and snowboarder-style stripes of sunscreen under his eyes. Against the black on black minimal stage dressing of Hull University Union, the singer songwriter shines like the star he is. “Bring it down”, he commands in the closing bars of ‘Give Up’, motioning with his hands to the mixing desk. Then, slowly and quietly at first, he begins the chant from the end of the song; “Your pretty, good looking, but I’m looking for a way out”. The audience know what’s required, and take up the cry, getting louder and faster on each repeat, until the band kick back in seamlessly to finish.
“Thumping glam-rock beat”
Earlier this year, Miles released his third studio album, Coup De Grace and, in a typically bold move, he chooses to play eight out of the ten tracks from it through the set. It pays off, as they are all universally well received by the enthusiastic Hull crowd. In fact, it’s during the thumping glam-rock beat of ‘Cry On My Guitar’ that I discover campus university gigs have a couple of unique features: The volume’s fantastic, with the bass vibrating the building, an advantage of not having any neighbours, and the beer is cheap. I realise the latter as a veritable fountain of thrown drinks arc across the audience; you wouldn’t get that at Leeds city centre prices!
‘Killing the Joke’ is another cracker from Coup De Grace, having the best (and possibly only), Bruce Forsyth reference in musical history in its lyrics. Some show their appreciation by holding up phone torches, some by holding up their fists and some by holding up their girl/boyfriends. At this point, a game breaks out between the audience and the vigilant stage security: People climb onto their mate’s shoulders, security push through the audience towards them. Then, at the last second, they jump down and disappear into the throng. The game goes on for quite a while, though I think the audience are enjoying it more than security.
The occasional Shadow Puppeteer starts to pluck out a familiar but incongruous guitar riff. It’s ‘Hot Stuff’, the Donna Summer classic, given a Miles Kane makeover! And, just like in that famous scene from 1997’s film The Full Monty, it’s impossible not to dance and sing along and everyone in the packed hall does just that. This sets the scene for fittingly strong finish to the main set with two title tracks, ‘Coup De Grace’ and ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’.
A short pause, and the tongue in cheek ‘Shavambacu’ makes for a great encore, as it starts slow and sinister, and ends joyfully humorous. “Let’s blow the f*cking roof off!” shouts the guitarist, with admirable brevity, proceeding to do just that with a thunderous rendition of ‘Come Closer’.
Miles Kane is the man: More music, less chat. Value for money; we like that in Yorkshire.
images: Lauren Dukoff