Castlefield Bowl is an iconic Manchester venue, the outdoor arena is located in the centre of town and surrounded by the industrial architecture of Deansgate locks, with the train track running on a bridge alongside the amphitheatre, canals and barges along the other, it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, yet at the centre of everything at the same time.
On Friday, Sounds of the City brought The Kooks to the famous venue as part of the week-long event. The sun was shining as I arrived, I was pretty early, getting there just after doors opened but it was already getting busy. The crowd were buzzing and there was a radiant excitement in the air, you couldn’t help but enjoy the contagious atmosphere.
It wasn’t long before Sea Girls opened the gig, having released their latest single Closer earlier that day, the London-based quartet effortlessly caught the attention of the growing crowd. They played fan-favourite Call Me Out and encouraged a sing-along from the audience, warming up the arena for the rest of the night.
By the time The Sherlocks arrived on stage the arena was nearly full and was bursting with enthusiasm. The band played songs from their upcoming album, set to be released in October including I Want It All, while the audience immersed themselves in the set. Chasing Shadows, one of the bands best-known songs from their 2017 debut album, closed their set and prepared the audience with electrifying indie riffs.
Walking on stage to Rock The Casbah and being met with cheers from the crowd, The Kooks began their set with Always Where I Need To Be from their 2008 album Konk, the song features classically catchy riffs and provoked an instant sing-along from the bouncing audience, “Do dodo do do do…” echoed throughout the arena while flares created a rainbow over the crowd and brought even more colour to the festival-like gig.
The Kooks are one of indie music’s favourite artists, with a back catalogue of irresistible riffs and infectious rhythms. One of their most-loved tracks is She Moves In Her Own Way, beginning with seemingly simple acoustic strums the track builds adding the distinct vocals of frontman Luke Pritchard. The song inspires feelings of summer and saw a powerful sing-along from the crowd as the sunset, bringing a cast of colour to the sky above Castlefield Bowl, while undeniable energy bounced between the band and their fans.
The set continued with everyone’s favourite oldies and the bands latest hits, some slower songs and others taking on the bands best-known indie sound. After playing Junk of the Heart the band left the stage, teasing the audience and saying it was their last song before coming back for an encore. The encore closed the night with three tracks, the final song, of course, being Naive. The first guitar chord saw cheers from the crowd who instantly recognised the song and began singing along with Luke, the energy in the venue exploded during the track and generated an unforgettable atmosphere which took over everyone in the arena.
A gig I won’t forget.