The Kills have nothing to prove.
10 years and four studio albums have laid waste to any doubts as to the virility of their black-hewn rock 'n' roll minimalism, a formula as intoxicating as it is deadly. Yet with new album 'Ash & Ice' incoming, the duo – Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart – clearly feel as though they have a point to prove.
The final date on a quick-fire tour of intimate (by their standards) European shows, the duo take to the stage at London's Village Underground on cheery form. Waving to the crowd, The Kills feel less like mutant rock reprobates and more like old friends, returning refreshed from a short break away.
That is, until the music starts. Alison Mosshart hurls herself around the stage, blonde hair trailing behind her as Jamie Hince chops out some barbaric razor-blade guitar riffs. Airing material from 'Ash & Ice', the pair seem determined to raise the bar once more – and empty the bar, while they're at it.
It's a career-spanning set, one that moves tantalisingly from those stripped down early cuts – the opening salvo of 'No Wow', 'URA Fever' – through to something rather more involved. 'Doing It To Death' is a real highlight, the slightly tropical percussion given a sleaze-driven air in the Shoreditch night. Communication is kept to a minimum, with the band choosing to spit out song after song. 'Pots And Pans' is a lowdown hoedown, a Delta blues stomp with the air of the undead about it. 'Monkey 23' moans and grunts its way into the night, before The Kills depart the stage, baiting the crowd with the hint of an encore.
It's a promise delivered. 'Siberian Nights' whirls into dervish territory, while 'Friend My Little Brains' turns into a wall of feedback, noise, and light. 'Tape Song' sweats and pants, the band ripping each other to pieces, flecks of noise splashing lightly on the heads of the crowd as Jamie and Alison duel onstage. And then it's over, with only the hum of the amps left as a reminder of what had just occurred. It's a curious thing to observe – to make such sparse, minimalist music erupt in such gripping fashion across the space of an evening is quite, quite special. To keep the noise flowing for a decade is truly remarkable.