Spring has disappeared, it’s gone all cold again and the weather is desperate to snow, but tonight we’ll be snug in the delectable Wolves Civic in the presence of the Kaiser Chiefs, almost exactly a year since they played in Birmingham and still touring to celebrate their greatest hits.
Early support tonight comes from This Many Boyfriends, a rag tag and bobtail group clearly inspired by early 80s indie: boppy with a smattering of Mary Chain and Wedding Present. Sound-wise a bit of a time-warp as it takes me back to my student days. The venue starts to fill up – tonight’s gig is sold out! And while we wait for second servings we get Slade and Stuffies and Plant’s ‘Big Log.’ Clearly intended to get the local crowd going.
“Good evening Wolverhampton – are you well, we’re very happy to be here tonight.” The polite introduction from Zulu Winter, the next support. Another indie band, with a new romantic vibe going on – pretty infective. Lead singer Will Daunt has a wide-ranging high pitched voice. Acknowledged quite widely on Radio 1’s indie shows Zulu Winter live are a tad like Mansun with atmospheric, rolling and rising storytelling tracks and Mick Karn inspired bass. In the right place and at the right time they have the potential to go far.
Formed way back in ‘96, The Kaiser Chiefs released their classic debut album ‘Employment’ in ‘05 featuring indie pop hits ‘I Predict a Riot’, ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’, ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Modern Way.’ Hugely successful, it was one of the best selling albums of ‘06, and was followed by ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’, which yielded No.1 hit ‘Ruby.’ The Kaisers consist of Ricky Wilson (vocals), Andrew ‘Whitey” White (guitar), Simon Rix (bass) and Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines (keyboards) and new drummer Vijay Mistry (of Club Smith who supported them last year) after Nick Hodgson recently moved on to pastures new. So bang on 9.15pm, here they come, onto a black draped, white-spotlighted set. Just one of the many reasons Wolves Civic wins out with so many touring bands, the height of the venue and luxury to get a decent set on stage.
“1. 2. 3. 4” and we’re into ‘Thank You Very Much.’ The crowd is pleased. Wilson: “Are you ready? I wanna see you all f****n’ enjoying yourselves!” and the band continue with ‘Kinda Girl You Are’, followed by ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays.’ The crowd responds on the “oooo” bits. Wilson is, as always, hugely energetic, and leaps across the pit, over the plethora of photographers to stand on the barrier, held back by a roadie, who grabs the rear of his jeans. Back on stage and the first trio of songs over Wilson apologises for the possible expletives during his chatting. “Isn’t it about time the photographers went? Go on – off you go! That’s it! I can take my clothes off now….” The photographers duly oblige.
Wilson has great stagecraft and the ability to ramp the audience up – it is the big hits that get the crowd going. ‘Every Time I Love You Less and Less’ – “I want to hear you scream your f****n’ hearts out!” And the crowd oblige too. “Let me see your hands”, the lights beam on the audience as he insists the entire audience puts their hands in the air, even the ones sitting.
“In this room, in Wolverhampton, is when we found out we’d got to number 1 [in the charts] with ‘Ruby’ – we really ought to start writing more number 1s!” And so we get the only new track of the night ‘Living Underground’ – which doesn’t depart from the Kaiser’s formula, but is faster and punchier and rockier.
Now we’re into a rolling set of songs everyone will know… “Cos it’s cool, to know nothing” ‘Never Miss A Beat.’ Wilson is a-wandering, he’s climbed onto the balcony, sitting there chatting to the audience, ramping it up more and more… “When you turn it up a little, we turn it up a little…” Back on stage the black backdrop falls to reveal a spray-painted stick of rock that is the cover on their greatest hits album ‘Souvenir.’ Wilson’s back on stage, bounce, bounce, bounce go the crowd, as we all sing along to “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby.” He carries on singing the chorus and the crowd goes “ooooo.” Now we’re ‘Predicting Riots’, albeit one of the politest riots you’ll ever see!
And as we’re rioting, we’ll be an ‘Angry Mob’. We clap, clap, clap and chant en masse over and over “We are the angry mob, we read the papers every day, we like who we like, we hate who we hate. But we’re also easily swayed.” Cracking end to the main set. Quick break and we get Wilson and piano ‘Saying Goodbye’ followed by a brave cover of The Strangler’s ‘No More Heroes’, Wilson sounds similar to original Stranglers singer Hugh Cornwell, this version is faster version and a tad chaotic – a good attempt.
Bit of musical dabbling and we’re into final song of the night ‘Oh My God’, which rolls and rolls. “And even if you don’t have any strength left in your body – I know, Wolverhampton, you have it in you for another chorus or 15….” And the crowd start chanting… “Oh my god I can’t believe it, never been this far away from home….” The band rolls the track into dance remix before jamming it down! “Thanks, we’ll see you next time!”
You can’t fault the energy and commitment that the Kaisers put into their sets. And they’re jolly friendly, jolly nice, down to earth chaps. The thing that the Kaiser’s did was to write effective ‘football’ chant songs that sold, that many people know and that are a huge win with the crowd at live shows. It really must be quite amazing to have written those songs with the lyrics that everyone knows and listen to the crowd sing them back to you. What a buzz! Regardless of future success, the Kaiser Chiefs already have a back catalogue most bands would be jealous of; I’ve seen nostalgia bands with fewer hits re-appearing after twenty years absence. Expect the Kaiser Chiefs to be rocking your town for many years to come. Go and see. You will have a blast!
And now a quick mention about the Pilgrim Bandits. Not a band but a charity, which the Kaiser Chiefs are taking around the country on their entire tour. Formed in 2007 by a small group of Special Forces veterans, this group have the sole aim of using their unique experience to help and inspire wounded soldiers to live life to the full, through pushing boundaries, working with youth and funding research into areas such as prosthetic limbs. Pilgrim Bandits raise monies, but don’t ask for charity, they ask for your support. Check them out and see what you can do to support them at: www.pilgrimbandits.org
Intro: Money for Nothing [Dire Straits]
1. Thankyou very much
2. Kinda Girl You Are
3. Everything is Average Nowdays
4. Little Shocks
5. Like It Too Much
6. Good Days Bad Days
7. Every Day I Love You Less and Less
8. Born to be a Dancer
9. Modern Way
10. Living Underground
11. Heat Lies Down
12. Loves Not A Competition (But I’m Winning)
13. Dead or Serious Trouble
14. Never Miss A Beat
16. I Predict A Riot
17. Angry Mob
18. Saying Goodbye
19. No More Heroes
20. Oh My God
Review by: Zyllah Moranne-Brown
Pictures: Ken Harrison