It's hard to tell if Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince of the Kills genuinely share the sexual tension they impart onstage, but either way, it's a sinister spectacle to watch and hear.
At the Paradise on Sunday, the duo seemed to dance a punk-rock tango that left them pressing their heads together and sharing a microphone close enough to lock lips any minute. They didn't, of course, but their songs worked even better because of their not-so-subtle theatricality, and in spite of technical problems that obviously irked the band.
It wasn't immediately clear why the stage was so bare, until Mosshart began storming around it, pacing in furious little circles and looking as if she might bolt into the crowd.
''No Wow," the title track from the Kills' latest album, opened the set with a blast of electric guitar layered over accompaniment courtesy of a drum machine. They married their thrashing guitar solos to beats reminiscent of those canned rhythms that come programmed on a Casio.
Mosshart and Hince were much more raw and unrefined than their albums and videos would suggest. Radio-friendly tunes such as ''The Good Ones" took on a heavier tone as they fixed their eyes on each other, and simple declarations of ''you got it, I want it," from ''Cat Claw," became charged anthems.
They ended their set as any tango must: in a spasm of bodies writhing in synch, with Mosshart sprawled on the floor and Hince falling to his knees and suggestively angling his guitar toward her.
Too bad some of that chemistry wasn't imparted to the evening's opening bands.
Local rock stars Read Yellow played with enough energy and sheer force to impress most anyone, but too often they mistook volume for melody. (Note to lead singer Evan Kenney: Wrestling maniacally with the microphone cord and stumbling into the audience does not always constitute stage presence.)
Scout Niblett, a British singer-songwriter, fared even worse. She rendered her start-stop compositions woefully undercooked and was the first victim of sound problems that forced her to finish prematurely.