Back in 2011 the Kaiser Chiefs snuck into my Top 5 shows of the year and at the time I commented that I thought I may have missed the boat with this band. The previous tour they had played to a sold out crowd at the Heineken Music Hall, by the time I saw them in 2011 the HMH was looking half empty and come 2013 they had been downgraded to the Melkweg. And on the day of the show, it still hadn’t sold out.
Fading popularity aside, it takes something special to make my top 5 shows most years, so needless to say I was happy to sign up to see them at a smaller venue and had reasonably high expectations. What had blown me away last time I saw them was the bands energy, and in particular lead man Ricky Wilson whose charismatic stage presence had the whole crowd jumping from start to finish in a way that completely took me by surprise.
On this level I was not disappointed at all. The band hit the stage at full speed and full volume, quite literally. It was actually uncomfortably loud and I could only assume the sound guy was still used to filling much larger venues with his dials. Ricky did not miss a beat, moving from one rock pose to another while joking with fans in the front row and happily chatting with the crowd.
There is no doubt this man carries the show. At one stage he managed to jump off the stage and make it up onto the Melkweg balcony, on both the right and left hand side. The rest of the band could have stripped down naked and no one would have noticed such is the pulling power of his movements. Every eye in the venue was on him as he climbed over the hand rail and hung out over the crowd, cheering him on and all wondering if he was crazy enough to jump out into the crowd.
(For the record he was not that crazy).
Add to this the string of massive hits they played and this was a really fun night. The whole crowd sung along to ‘Na Na Na Na Naa’, ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’, ‘Modern Way’, ‘Ruby’, ‘I Predict a Riot’, ‘The Angry Mob’ and the always show stopping ‘Oh My God’. Although I will note, the singing and dancing was slightly less enthusiastic than last time.
All of this begs the questions, why do we love them less and less? And I think the answer is easy and can be seen the shows set list – the Kaiser Chiefs have put out nothing good since Yours Truly, Angry Mob back in 2006.
7 years is a long time in Rock n’ Roll!
Of the 18 song set list (which barely ran for an hour), 11 of the songs were from unemployment and Yours Truly, Angry Mob, the bands first 2 albums. Only 2 songs survived from their last full length album, The Future Is Medieval, which isn’t exactly a sign of confidence from its creators. They did play their newest song Bows and Arrows for the first time ever live and while it was always nice to see a ‘first time’, I can’t really see this being the single that turns it all around for them.
It will always be one of the mysterious of popular music, that a band can write a string of such iconic songs that a huge group people around the world gravitate to and almost adopt as anthems. And then they just can’t seem to do it on that same level any more.
But as I guess long as they are still having fun playing their old stuff and we are happy to keep singing along, what does it matter? The venues might keep getting smaller but the night was still a lot of fun and that’s more than I can say for plenty of other bands out there at the moment.