For the Kaiser Chiefs, I was willing to leave the cosy circle of Birmingham venues that have become my second home over the past two years of uni, and so it was without not a little trepidation that I set off on a train bound for such mysterious places as “Cosely” and “Tipton”, and finally “Wolverhampton”. The last time I had been here was for Slamdunk 2014, and had barely registered my surroundings as the venues were so jam-packed with brightly coloured punks and hardcore kids. The audience for the Kaisers however was much more varied, from young kids attending their first gigs, right up to the pint-clutching older fans.
Indeed, the whole night proved to be a strange night blending both the past and the future – the support act was Public Service Broadcasting [8/10], a bespectacled duo beloved of BBC Radio 6 who mix traditional live instruments with vintage sound clips from historical archives. They describe their unique sound as “teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”. A giant neon flashing radio tower prop “broadcasts” in time to their tight rhythms and catchy synths, while sepia-tinted stock footage plays bizarre clips of men in old-fashioned goggles and spitfires. The band themselves are fronted by Matt Smith lookalike J. Willgoose Esquire, who does not speak, but communicates via robotic sounding voice samples. The other half of PSB is named Wrigglesworth, and he plays the drums like half well-dressed man, half funky rhythm machine.
Though the audience initially seem baffled, the assortment of sound effects and Received Pronunciation gradually fit together, and soon much of the audience is politely bobbing about to the driving sound of ‘Signal 30’ and kraut-rock inspired ‘Spitfire’. Also onstage are two other musicians, similarly attired with bow-ties, braces and tweed, who throughout the performance play an astonishing variety of instruments ranging from banjo and guitar all the way through to the warbling electronic hoots of a Casio and at the very end, a large and triumphant sounding trumpet. Frankly, this band should not work. But yet, they do.
Though PSB were an intriguing choice for support, everyone was obviously here to see the Kaiser Chiefs [9/10], who arrived on stage amid clouds of smoke and dry ice. They immediately launched into ‘Factory Gates’ from their latest album Education, Education, Education & War, which was a bit of a questionable opener since many fans were clearly there for the classics. However, they were not disappointed – rapid electronic beeps led straight into ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’, at which point the crowd ramped up their energy to the high it would maintain for the rest of their night.
A particular high point was the fan-favourite ‘The Angry Mob’, which features a bellowing mob chant at the end, during which point Ricky Wilson began climbing around the balcony, presumably to incite said mob. This was complemented by the song Cannons, complete with war poem narrated by Bill Nighy. In their last two albums, the Kaiser’s have moved from writing lad rock songs about nights out and drinking to songs of a much more political nature, and the album Education, Education, Education & War was released around the centenary of the First World War, while the title is a direct reference to a Tony Blair speech.
They closed with a relentless barrage of hit singles such as ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Modern Way’, and ‘Ruby’, as well as their Olympic Games cover of The Who’s epic ‘Pinball Wizard’. During the encore, screens showed the band backstage being given an aggressively profanity-laden pep-talk by none other than Dave Grohl, presumably recorded during their tour supporting the Foo Fighters last year. Shamefacedly, the band come back onstage, to debut their brand new single ‘Falling Awake’, and finally close with ‘Oh My God’, leaving everyone hoarse and raw-throated from screaming “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE IT” over and over.
The Kaiser’s have had a tricky couple of years; with the departure of their drummer Nick Hodgson, and limited commercial success of their 3rd and 4th albums; however with Ricky’s fame skyrocketing thanks to his stint as a judge on The Voice, the band look all set for a massive comeback. While crowd reactions to classics from their most well-known albums Employment and Yours Truly, Angry Mob were predictably uproarious, this was also truer for newer singles such as the anthemic ‘Coming Home’. This band clearly know their audience well, and acknowledge that while they may not be on the forefront of indie in 2015, they have made a massive contribution to music, and still have a whole lot more to give. With the introduction of their lively new drummer Vijay Mistry, their hard work and clear love of music seem to be paying off, and I wish them all the luck in the world with their new album and huge international tour schedule.