Saturday, February 04, 2012
Kaiser Chiefs / All The Young / Club Smith @ The Academy, Friday 3rd February
Na na na na naaaaaa...ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...The Kaiser Chiefs are becoming a bit of an national institution now aren’t they eh? Four albums into their career they’ve crafted more than their fair share of singalong-a-singles and created the kind of ‘matey blokes’ image that most bands would willingly sacrifice several drummers for. There’s even an ad on t’telly right now with that most traditional of British musical institutions - the brassband - belting out Ruby whilst a cut price Peter Kay dad dances and tries to flog us the t’internet. If you’re looking for further proof of their venerable status tonight’s gig sold out ages ago despite the relatively poor performance of their last album, the underrated The Future Is Medieval. It’s easy to see why they remain so popular though. Perhaps only Madness are as loveable a bunch as this lot and, just like the nutty boys, Ricky and co are simply a classic British singles band. Cop a load of these songs: I Predict A Riot, Oh My God, Na Na Na Na Naa, Everyday I Love You Less and Less, Ruby, Modern Way, Never Miss A Beat, Little Shocks, each one seemingly purpose built for crowds to scream along to. And tonight that’s pretty much just what they did.
First up though honourable mentions to the two support bands starting with Club Smith, who could almost stand in for the Chiefs if they fancied a day off with tracks like No Friend Of Mine having more than a hint of the Kaiser’s about it. Coming on at the unfeasibly early hour of 6.30 can’t be easy but punctual gig goers were treated to an energetic showing of synth tinged art rock. Well worth further investigation, preferably after we’ve all had time for our tea to go down.
Stoke’s All The Young gamely straddle the divide between the full on lad rock of Oasis and the poppier world of the Kaisers with the lead singer borrowing Liam’s shades n’swagger. There’s a pleasingly anthemic nature to a lot of their stuff that’s heartfelt if not particularly original and, with the audience swelling they did a fine job of warming...okay...make that defrosting the frozen masses.
With the room rammed to capacity and the beer flowing faster than Niagara Falls (to be fair a pint of Niagara Falls would probably be a darn sight tastier than most of the drinks on offer) Ricky, Nicky B, Nicky H, Andy and...Simon... received the kind of welcome generally reserved for minor deities. Wire Ricky up to the mains and you’d have enough electricity to power a small northern town. That man must cover a marathon during the average gig. Kicking off with Everyday I Love You Less and Less (paranoid audiences could take that one badly eh?) he begins a relentless routine of mic twirling, mic throwing, mic twisting...in fact anything that you could possibly do with a mic short of marrying it and having little mic babies. When he’s not narrowly avoiding decapitating himself/one of his bandmates with the mic he’s doing his trademark leaping in the air bit or running around the stage like a loon. It’s an engaging spectacle and one thing you’ll never be at a Kaiser’s gig is bored. After a frenetic Never Miss A Beat the pace slows a little for the metronomic synth driven Little Shocks, arguably one of their more challenging (and rewarding for all that) singles. As if to try to disprove the lyrics our Rick bravely crosses the band audience divide and totters precariously on the barriers for Everything Is Average Nowadays, frequently coming within an inch of plunging headfirst into the already moist crowd. Modern Way, with more than a nod to the Chiefs' spiritual granddads Blur, gets the hands in the air for the first really bit singalong of the night before...shock horror...a new (ish) track, On The Run. “We’ve got to keep on writing new songs” ruminates Ricky “and you’ve got to keep listening to them”. Seems fair to me. Punctuated with ruddy great farts of old skool synth it’s a rant against the seemingly unstoppable Twitter-iffic D-list celebrity culture that somehow passes for civilisation these days.
New stuff over (for now) the hits continue with Ruby leaving Ricky breathless, giving the audience yet another chance to takeover and sing for a bit. I Predict A Riot whips the frenzy up a notch as hundreds of sweaty blokes punch the air in unison sending flecks of salty spray into the air. Seemingly bored of restricting himself to the stage and barriers Ricky goes walkabout, mounting the speakers at the side of the stage and climbing up to the balcony 20 feet or so above us. That’s where all the posh people sit. Or at least did. Ricky leads a kind of Mexican wave getting everyone up and dancing...well...as much as you can dance when you’re standing in a row of seats. Risking life and limb once more he perches on the balcony swinging one leg over the edge as a burly security dude edges nervously closer and closer. From this position Rick watches his boys as a fan “I fucking love this band”. Awwwww bless.
Back on stage (I think he used the stairs) and time for an even newer song, only heard once before in fact. Using a mic that sounds like he’s singing down a megaphone Listen To Your Head is a darker Kaiser Chiefs, with Ricky coming across like a tortured soul during the chorus...all thousand yard stares and chest beating. Blimey. Whether it’s an indication of a more mature direction or just an experiment remains to be seen but it’s a rare glimpse of an extra dimension to a band that most of us have perhaps neatly pigeonholed. Encore time and after Love’s Not A Competition (But I’m Winning) it could only be one track couldn’t it? Yep. OMG as dem yoot would call it. Tired of beating his mic to death Rick takes it out on a tambourine this time as the crowd screams along with the chorus and the sweaty blokes pogoing along in the middle have a collective heart attack. It’s that one great moment that all gigs strive to achieve, getting several thousand people to act as one glorious mass of humanity. That’s the deal with this band. Ricky ain’t the best singer in the world, the lyrics aren’t going to keep Cohen up all night fretting that he’s got competition but for sheer bloody joyful sing yer heart out arms in the air pop the Kaiser’s firmly remain chiefs.