Miles Kane live review – Mesmerising, effortless and intimate

Two days after the release of his “career-defining” studio album One Man Band, Miles Kane kicked off a short run of highly intimate shows ahead of his 2024 tour at The Sugarmill – a small grassroots venue in Stoke-on-Trent’s city centre.

It was Sunday night, August 6; the rain had (thankfully) subsided as the gig’s queue snaked around Gitana Street and the some 400 ticket holders geared up for the sell-out event.

The last time Miles performed at the same venue was around four months before the pandemic hit in 2019. Incidentally, it was the last live show I attended before lockdown, so it lingered with me for some time while dreamt of returning to live events.

It seemed as if Miles himself was as keen to return to the Sugarmill as I was. No frills, no fuss, no big build-up – not even a support act – there was no time for messing around. The man needs no introduction and his fans didn’t require a warm-up – they were raring to go, standing shoulder to shoulder on the sticky floor as a carefully curated playlist of musical heroes played over the speaker from Blur’s Common People to Oasis’ Rock n Roll Star.

But it was Simply The Best, a subtle tribute to Tina Turner, minutes before arriving on stage that didn’t go unnoticed. The Last Shadow Puppets fans of the bunch immediately connected the dots in that it was Tina’s image on the front cover of their second album, Everything You’ve Come To Expect.

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Miles swaggered on stage in a leather jacket wearing a rock and roll attitude as he and his band let rip into Troubled Son, the exhilarating indie-banger that opens his recently released record One Man Band.

It’s the ultimate introduction into the sound that Miles has developed over the years; a combination of his signature croon against a backdrop of vintage-inspired guitars. The atmosphere inside The Sugarmill was electric, with gig-goers having clearly done their homework as they chanted the chorus back at the band.

Miles always offers an undeniable stage presence that feeds off the energy of his audience, and Stoke cranked it up to 11 for best-loved tracks Inhaler and Rearrange. Brandishing his guitar like a weapon, he gave a show to the camera lenses peering up from the pit before sharing a moment with an emotional fan holding a sign which read “You saved my life”.

Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough (from 2022’s Change the Show) followed, but it was Baggio – a relatively mellow track on the latest record – which took on a new life in Kane’s performance.

One of the standout moments of the night was a rendition of Standing Next to Me – a song from The Last Shadow Puppets – the collaborative project between Miles Kane and Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner. The venue erupted as the Northern powerhouse plugged in his acoustic guitar for what was perhaps one of the most era-defining songs for indie teens back in 2008, and one that has stood the test of time, too.

Kane’s stage presence was mesmerising. He effortlessly connected with his audience, creating an intimate and high-octane atmosphere you simply don’t get with bigger venues. And, as the night progressed, the crowd’s energy soared as Kane sat on the barriers arm in arm with fans – even in the crowd itself at one point – as they sang along with every lyric to tracks that had been released just days previously, like Never Taking Me Alive.

Among the highlights of the night was the performance of Coup De Grace, the title track from his acclaimed third solo album perhaps the most palpable performance of the night, but each track was as intense as the one it followed, continuing with a relentless amount of zeal for The Wonder and Come Closer.

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What was evident in Miles’ set was his wide-ranging back-catalogue is equally adored. All too often fans will head to the tour of a new album and want to hear only the nostalgic hits – Arctic Monkeys are intelligent to know this, which is why only three tracks from The Car made it into their 21-song setlist on their recent tour. Kane managed to strike a perfect balance of old and new, with fans as eager to hear fresh material as they were to hear tracks from his debut solo offering.

What this resulted in was a delicious blend of genres from ’60s psychedelia to ’80s glam rock, all packaged with a contemporary twist and irresistibly infectious charm and charisma.

As the set neared its conclusion, Kane left no room for disappointment. He delivered an extended version of the anthemic Don’t Forget Who You Are as the audience continued to chant the “la la la’s” of the outro in a desperate bid to cling on to the ambience just that bit longer, and Miles dutifully obliged with about four additional choruses before ending with a bang on One Man Band, exhibiting sharp hooks and even sharper lyrics, with one final push of rippling euphoria that filled the venue long after the final chords rang out of the speakers.

The show marked the first of three summer shows, with Sheffield’s Leadmill and Liverpool’s Hangar34 to follow, and it was nothing short of a spectacle. There was nothing small about it – just immaculate vibes and a down-to-earth approach, mirroring the authentic and deeply personal nature of the new album. It was an exceptional performance from Miles who forged a genuine connection with his fans, even signing records and casually chatting after the show.

With this outstanding performance, there is no doubt that his forthcoming tour in 2024 will be a massive success. For those lucky enough to secure tickets, it promises to be an unmissable experience, filled with the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and the undeniable tour de force of Miles Kane. You can buy tickets to the next run of live shows here, including Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and more.

Get tickets to Miles Kane’s 2024 tour here.

Find out more about his upcoming shows here.

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