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Review: Miles Kane @ O2 Academy

Last Friday, the O2 Academy played host to indie-rock stalwart Miles Kane, who, even after thirteen years since his debut album Colour of the Trap, continues to amaze on stage with electric guitar playing and a formidable, high-octane performance.

By Sean Lawrenson, Second Year English

Kicking off the evening was a band I was very excited to see perform once again, The Royston Club. The only time I had seen the band perform prior to their support for Kane was at Glastonbury last year, in a quaint little tent at 11:15 in the morning. It takes some set to outperform that performance at Glastonbury, primarily because of the differing environment.

At Glastonbury, watching them was a surprise, not really knowing who they were beforehand, with everyone in that festival mood around. However, the set at the O2 you could tell was more refined. The band had only just finished their own tour at the back end of last year, and the performance showed this. The crowd seemed more than into it, and it was clear that some of the crowd had even come more for the Royston Club than for Miles Kane, which is always a surprise. Regular chants of ‘Royston, Royston!’ and the slightly less inventive ‘Wales!’ populated the intersections between songs. 

The songs themselves are obviously great, the majority of which are taken from their 2023 album ‘Shaking Hips and Crashing Cars’, including their most well-known track ‘Mrs Narcissistic’, an infectious indie track about a fractured situation-ship. It’s always important in my mind to see the artist having fun when they’re on stage, which I think is a bit of a two-way relationship between the audience and artist. If the audience don’t like the support, they’ll probably realise it quite quickly and even overcompensate or stop trying altogether. That being said, when the opposite happens, and it is so clear that both the audience, and by association, the artist, are having fun; well, there really is nothing like it. The Royston Club were more than impressive, and solidified them in my view as one to watch in the indie space.

Sean Lawrenson

Whilst there were certainly some in the crowd who had turned up specifically for the support, naturally, the majority of the crowd were there to see ‘Miles, Miles, Miles F*cking Kane!’. Storming onto stage and straight into ‘Troubled Son’, the crowd were immediately into it, and that energy rarely dimmed, besides the acoustic sections of the evening (which are always a necessity for acts like Kane, just to provide a bit of calm). The most impressive part of watching Miles Kane is just watching the man play guitar. Guitar after guitar that was brought out to him, Kane played effortlessly. Never did it look like he was struggling, enjoying every moment, which naturally filters into the crowd and the atmosphere.

My personal highlights of the evening include his performance of ‘One Mand Band’, off of his 2023 album of the same name. The track itself is a great, upbeat love song, fuelled, as always, by Kane’s sublime guitar playing. It’s the kind of track that is always going to go down well with the audience. An audience, which I might add, was quite possibly the most diverse in terms of age I have ever seen at a gig before. An eclectic mix of teenagers on a night out all the way to people who must have been in their mid-forties. To me, looking round at all those people enjoying the music, was a strangely positive experience. It just shows how some artists have the ability to appeal across generations, and if I am being completely honest, I did not have Miles Kane down as an artist who would have that effect, but kudos where it’s due. 

Another particular highlight was his performance of ‘Come Closer’, one of Kane’s better-known tracks, which was always going to be well-received by the audience, but it was what happened after he had finished playing which really made the evening. Having clearly stopped playing the song, and ready to move onto the next, the crowd insisted, chanting the chorus back at Kane, who then looked to his drummer, as if to say ‘you ready to go back into it?’. In that moment of spontaneity, whether Kane knew it was going to happen or not, the evening had found its highlight. Anytime the crowd have a say on a set, such as the restarting of the chorus here, no matter what it is, will always elevate that gig to that other level. Finishing his set with the track ‘Don’t forget who you are’, Kane had the entire crowd in the Academy singing ‘la la la’ at the top of their lungs.

Featured Image: Sean Lawrenson

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