Live Review: Black Kids – The 100 Club, London 15.09.2022

Don Blandford

A fan clutches a Black Kids colouring book. Black Kids inspire this kind of devotion. He’ll probably colour it in without going over the edges. Then again, he won’t want to spoil the pristine pages of his heroes at all. He’ll wait for the limited-edition Black Kids felt tip pens to arrive. The 100 Club is full of this love tonight. The Florida five-piece first escaped their Jacksonville scene via their MySpace site almost 15 years ago. They’re back – older, wiser yet just as jangly and twee as ever before and still get a groove on.

Reggie appears. Shorn. Not only has their MySpace disappeared since 2008 but he isn’t quite as hirsute as he was back then. Clad in a Broadcast band t-shirt (RIP Trish Keenan) Reggie is still cool as…

Acclaimed debut Partie Traumatic gets the album playback treatment in Soho tonight but first Reggie and his sister Ali along with Dawn, Owen and Kevin warm up with a couple of extra tracks. Then it happens. Hit The Heartbrakes hits the night and they’re off! The call and response vocal interchanges between Reggie and his sister on the keyboards are there and there’s the surreal lyrics too as they summon “the ghost in your underwear” – it still works and ends in fine, foot stomping fashion.

Partie Traumatic featured in several best of album lists at the end of 2008 and there’s plenty more from this acclaimed release to come. Listen To Your Body Tonight is soulful, funky almost Prince like in places. Throughout the album there’s a feeling that Reggie and the band have been exposed to what the narrator in (500) Days Of Summer refers to as “too much sad, British pop music”. The UK influence on Black Kids debut album is enhanced by the deft hand of its producer – a certain Bernard Butler.

They may kick themselves that whilst The Killers continue to be that necessary irritant at the indie disco the Black Kids brand of indie pop shone so briefly. Shame because Hurricane Jane is another fantastic slab of chantable indie with an infectious synth groove as Reggie laments, “it’s Friday night and I ain’t got nobody, oh what’s the use of making the bed?”.

Black Kids keep everyone on their toes. I’ve Underestimated My Charms (Again) is a rousing Northern Soul romp – oh no, actually it’s a 1950s high school slab of sunny doo-wop pop with Dawn and Ali swooning along. Eclectic and very effective. The final songs play out with a sugary pop mood especially Love Me Already. The front row join Reggie in punching the air. Even colouring book bloke has put the merch away and is busy with his arms outstretched. The album finale Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo) is an appropriate dance anthem to end the night complete with female vocals very reminiscent of Manda Rin of Bis.

It’s easy to see how Partie Traumatic made all those best of album charts in 2008. Black Kids were joined on those lists by Duffy, Foals and Vampire Weekend. They may not be kids anymore but Black Kids charm and their tunes still endure.

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