The Kaiser Chiefs review – boundless energy and playful wit

O2, London
Transforming themselves into a modern-day Who, the Kaisers’ fightback is a roaring success

“Something must have gone right,” says Ricky Wilson, admiring a nearly sold-out O2. If Ricky’s stated ambition for appearing on The Voice (and braving the ruptured credibility that comes with it) was to get his band more exposure, it has worked fantastically. Their gradual decline since 2005 debut Employment has been reversed, their cultural clout revived. Just a few years ago they were considered the cringeworthy jesters of the noughties’ indie boom; now, to a fresh generation of fans, they’re enduring lark-masters from a brighter age, before the xx drew a cowl over alt-pop.

Thus, the Kaisers have survived to become the modern-day Who, peppering early semi-comic pop hits I Predict a Riot, Never Miss a Beat and Oh My God with songs from more prog-inflected quasi-concept albums such as last year’s politically charged No 1 Education, Education, Education & War. So after an opening flurry of tearaway classics for which Wilson plays Moon, Townshend and Daltrey in a band full of Entwhistles – twirling his mike stand, standing on the front row and sprinting around like Usain Bolt in heat – he appears on a tiny stage in the crowd to emote Cannons, the rousing rock-opera lament of a soldier seeing through the hypocrisies of warfare.

A cover of Pinball Wizard rams the point home but not before, technically, everything goes very wrong. During Roses, the Tetris-styled backdrop screens slip their moorings and are curtained off, leaving Ricky to fill time, continuing rock’s still unpublished research on which area of any given arena is loudest. Luckily, before he starts cataloguing where all the girls are, the screens are repaired in time to become a “random bandomiser”, selecting which Kaiser chooses the next song (keyboardist Peanut picks morbid shanty Time Honoured Tradition) and to show a hilarious encore film of a furious, foul-mouthed Dave Grohl bawling them out backstage. Playful wit, boundless energy and the enduring Celtic punch of Oh My God ensure the Kaisers’ fightback is a roaring success. Finally, The Voice delivers.

Contributor

Mark Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Kaiser Chiefs – review

The picturesque but spooky Kirkstall Abbey provided a fitting backdrop for the Leeds band's new darker sound, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

12, Sep, 2011 @3:55 PM

Article image
Kaiser Chiefs – review
Having something to prove seems to have done the Kaiser Chief's good, with Ricky Wilson sounding leaner than ever, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

16, Sep, 2013 @2:02 PM

Kaiser Chiefs – review
The new tracks won't convert those who dismiss the Kaiser Chiefs as generic landfill offenders, but there are signs of branching out, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

19, Jun, 2011 @2:43 PM

Kaiser Chiefs, The Promenade, Blackpool

The Promenade, Blackpool

Dave Simpson

10, Sep, 2007 @8:10 AM

Article image
Review: Kaiser Chiefs

9 out of 10: Sunday, 8:00pm, Pyramid stage. The Kaisers played all the hits from opener Every Day I Love You Less and Less to closer Oh My God.

25, Jun, 2007 @8:54 AM

Article image
Kaiser Chiefs – review
With their new interactive album, Kaiser Chiefs have gone backwards to go forwards, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

11, Jun, 2011 @11:06 PM

Kaiser Chiefs, Town Hall, Leeds

Town Hall, Leeds

Dave Simpson

21, Oct, 2005 @11:12 PM

CD: Kaiser Chiefs, Enjoyment

(B-Unique)

Dave Simpson

16, Dec, 2005 @1:13 AM

Article image
CD: Kaiser Chiefs, Employment

(B-Unique)

Dorian Lynskey

04, Mar, 2005 @1:43 AM

Article image
The Kaiser Chiefs, Monarch, London

Monarch, London

Betty Clarke

28, Feb, 2005 @2:09 PM