Finally after two years Canada’s Kings of the Cowbell have returned to the UK for a few small but very perfectly formed UK dates in anticipation of their third album, Happiness Ltd.
Judging by the title and promo artwork that is circulating at the moment you could be excused for feeling a tad scared that this four-piece are going soft in their old age. On first impressions the soft focus photography draws frightening comparisons to the typical boyband’s attempts at the more mature sound. Please don’t say that these pop-punk pixies have mellowed into the dead-end of maturity and that the frenetic performances that Hot Hot Heat are famed for are a thing of the past? Nah, of course not!
A sigh of relief can be heard as Steve Bays launches into old-time favourite No, Not Now from first album, Make up the Breakdown. The wide-eyed bundle of energy complete with angelic bouffant provides a conflicting comparison to the almost filthy looking recently moustached drummer Paul Hawley who complete with sweat band is currently resembling a ’70s porn star out for a spot of tennis.
After storming through an opening trio of much-loved favourites, Bays announces that he has only just woken up and that only now was the party going to begin. This is news to the audience as despite illness, Bays is his usual shouty-mouthed head-bopping self, framed perfectly by the unanimated Paquin and Hawthorn who get on with the job. What a little trooper bring on the rest of the show. He is almost drowned out as he continues to soar through the majority of their first two albums at a yelping speed that seems to prevent any oxygen intake as the crowd try to keep up in hollering accompaniment to these insanely catchy favourites. A group of teenage girls make continued swipes for his crotch yet Bays continues to jump around the stage unfazed by the constant molestation. This is clearly not the first time this has happened. Nice.
New material such as Give Up receive a welcomed reception but it’s refreshing to see that despite the ultimate purpose of this gig being to promote the forthcoming album the set list is mainly from their back catalogue. Even 5 times out of a 100 from EP Knock Knock Knock is thrown in for good measure much to the delight of this crowd.
As the set draws to a close it is inevitable that anthem Talk to Me Dance With Me will feature in the encore. Unfortunately the sound gives out here as Bays waves frantically to Hawley to keep on drumming as he wails into two replacement microphones with no luck. No one seems bothered as it is only prolonging the night that is ever-too-rapidly coming to a close. Finally the sound is sorted but this also means that the outstanding set ends all too soon. Let’s just hope that next time they won’t leave it so long to come back to the UK.