Kaiser Chiefs – review

Arena, Leeds
Having something to prove seems to have done the Kaiser Chief's good, with Ricky Wilson sounding leaner than ever

"Remind me where we are," quips Ricky Wilson, receiving the expected shouts of "Leeeeeeds". The singer would probably play a pub as if it were a stadium; he runs about the stage, plays his chest with the microphone and even emerges singing Modern Way to gawping onlookers in the upper tier.

Wilson's qualities as a showman have never been in doubt, but like many a formerly unit-shifting guitar group, his band face uncertain times. It's five years since the Kaisers could camp in the top 40 and play the 35,000 capacity Elland Road, but being the fourth act to play their hometown's purpose-built new arena (after initially being asked to open it) reflects a new underdog status that may take getting used to. Having something to prove again, however, seems to have done them good. Wilson has never looked or sounded leaner, and friend/fan-turned-new drummer, Vijay Mistry, whose crazed style seems to have been inspired by Muppet drummer Animal, has rekindled the energy which enabled I Predict a Riot et al to revitalise British pop in the mid-2000s.

Those songs are still well-loved, but after losing drummer and principal songwriter Nick Hodgson, their future rests on new material. One More Last Song is catchy, trademark Britpop, but far more interesting is Misery Company, a dark, Clockwork Orange whirl with a demented cackle.

Wilson doesn't milk the band's connection with Leeds, but there's an extraordinary moment when a third unfamiliar tune, Coming Home, a U2/Kings of Leon-ish stadium-sized ballad, prompts an unexpected singsong. "I promise you, our next album will be amazing," yells the singer, and while the proof is in the pudding, it's too soon to write them off.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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