Three-quarters of the way through a First Avenue concert that was the musical equivalent of a multi-speed meat grinder, the Kills' singer Alison Mosshart told the sold-out crowd, "You guys in Minneapolis and St. Paul are very lucky to have this venue. It's always a great pleasure to play here."
The woman knows what she's talking about. Thursday's 85-minute set was Mosshart's third performance on that stage in as many years. The previous two, however, were with Jack White and the rest of the Dead Weather. Not only did the Kills come back more pulverizing and potent than the all-star side band, theirs was probably the most electrifying set by a duo not named the Black Keys since White's White Stripes last played there.
Mosshart and her guitar-frying partner Jamie Hince have that kind of uncanny chemistry that makes stripped-down acts somehow sound more amped up and plugged in. On Thursday, they also genuinely seemed happy to be together again following their two-year hiatus. He smiled at her as they sang the second song "Future Starts Now" face-to-face. She put her arms on his shoulders and laughed something into his ear before they kicked up "Pull A U." Mostly, they just let the sparks fly through their music, with old nuggets such as "Sour Cherry" and the finale "Fried My Little Brains" coming off especially jubilant.
Songs from the new album, "Blood Pressures," helped spotlight just how varied the Kills' music is despite their raw style and constant drum-machine accompaniment. "Heart Is a Beating Drum" sounded like a blues-punk song set over New Wave beats. "Baby Says" came off like a slow, Madonna-on-meth pop song. And "Pots and Pans" brought a Tom Waits-ian maniacal vibe to the encore.
Sporting a Dan Monick-photographed T-shirt of local punk hero Paddy Costello, Mosshart coolly worked the stage all night, at times clinging to her mic stand and strutting around like a slightly manlier (but still sexy) Steven Tyler, at other times staring out from under jet-black hair like an unlikely cross between Glenn Danzig and Patti Smith. She's a rock star, no question. The question is, which band should she have with her next time she plays First Ave?