Let’s be honest, the Pyramids Centre in Portsmouth isn’t particularly the edgiest of venues. What with its communal swimming area, soft play adventure world and bingo-hall decor it’s currently only beaten in its standings for being the least rock n’ roll entity by broccoli, Norah Jones and the Conservative party. However on this mild Thursday evening all was going to change, Miles Kane transforming this rather meek and uninspiring leisure complex in to one of the most raucous parties of sweat, beer, mod-revival haircuts (whilst there I began to wonder if a Paul Weller lookalike contest was being held in one of the smaller conference rooms) and football-style chants.
Support for the night came from the brotherly trio of The Family Rain (who I also managed to have a chat to; which you can read here.) I’m not sure if it’d be physically possible for a band to be a more fitting opener; their mix of Black Keys-indebted garage and noisy Built to Spill-ish guitar work made all the better by their fizzing energy, tight playing and keenness for a great hook. By the end of their performance there was some notably enthusiastic and vigorous head-nodding from certain members of the crowd; a perfect mood-setter for what was about to come.
What was about to come was an atmosphere I could only imagine being similar at an Oasis gig; the mass belting-along to ‘Morning Glory’ over the PA further solidifying that argument. As soon as Miles’ name was projected on to the stage curtain the surge forward and spilling of pints ensued. From thereon in was an 80-minute brash, alcohol-fuelled, rough-and-more-than-ready celebration of rock, soul and all things mod.
Sing-alongs to numbers such as ‘Rearrange’, ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ and new single ‘Better Than That’ could probably be heard in his next tour destination due to the crowd’s sheer enthusiasm and joy; no longer is Kane within the shadow of his friend and collaborator Alex Turner, he is now worthy of his own anthems. This level of appreciation and devotion from the audience was acknowledged with a sincere gratitude from Kane, made apparent in his huge amount of interaction with the crowd and the pure fact of him absolutely playing his arse off; his level of hardworking-produced sweat so considerable you could have mistaken him for just taking a dip in the swimming pool.
Although critics of Kane argue, perhaps rightly, that he is simply attempting to reproduce the music of a bygone generation, he executes this with such eagerness and passion that it’s tremendously difficult to not at least find endearing; Miles Kane is an unashamed fan of music as much as he is a performer of music which is why the connection with his fanbase is so spirited and gratefully accepted. This reaches its maximum poignancy during ‘Give Up’ where Kane and co break from the track to instead perform a excerpt of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’; a move which seems to enjoyed as much by Miles than by the audience.
As the chant for set closer ‘Come Closer’ rang on for minutes after the band left the stage and the audience left the venue it was clear that not one person left unhappy. Yes, it may not have pushed many musical boundaries, the lyrics may at times be relatively cliché and they weren’t going to make you change the way you saw the world, but what you did get was a set of well-written songs, a band that were playing their collective hearts out, enjoying what they were doing and who wanted you to enjoy it too. And isn’t rock n’ roll really all about having a good time?