In a week following the various New Year related festivals at Falls and Pyramid Rock that saw a jam packed gig schedule to welcome in 2011, Cold War Kids drew an impressive crowd to The Forum on a Tuesday night. A band who even in their name evoke nostalgia for a time gone by, they hit this tour looking forward, reeling off songs from their forthcoming album Mine Is Yours which is due for release later this month. Indeed, in one of their new songs, front man Nathan Willet’s plaintive yelp declares ‘Finally arms are wide open/i’ve got a black belt in now’. Using their black belt in now means that the bulk of the set is new material which the audience is unfamiliar with, thus receiving a muted crowd response at times, although it allowed for plenty of reflection and actual listening to the music.

Another new song featuring the lyrics ‘The storms were like the waves’ demonstrates a heavier, more textured approach to the new album, Kings of Leon producer Jacquire King’s influence coming across in a song that features a guitar sound reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Crosstown Traffic’, the heavy bass rumble contrasting with the Byrds-esque lead guitar. ‘Dreams Old Men Dream’ becomes a long extended jam, the band mutating into Neil Young & Crazy Horse circa Zuma. ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’ elicits the biggest crowd reaction of the night, while new song ‘Louder Than Ever’ veers down the path of concise, catchy pop. New track ‘Cold Toes, Cold Feet’ features a melodica, which is a misnomer for the instrument, the song almost funereal and dirge-like, a haunting effect not dissimilar to New Order’s rendition of Joy Division’s ‘In A Lonely Place’.

Old favourite ‘Audience’ is welcomed by the crowd with arms aloft, while ‘Hospital Beds’ is suitably epic, the crowd moving in unison. The audience in turn welcome an encore that gives ‘We Used To Vacation’ the Neil Young and Crazy Horse touch, with the crowd yelling back the alcoholic’s remorse of ‘I promised to my wife and children/I’d never touch another drink/As long as I live.’ The new material hints at a ‘rockier’ sound for the band as they take on 2011 with their ‘black belt in new’.

– Jim Murray