With five number one albums and a Glastonbury headline appearance under his belt, it’s been some time since Kasabian man Serge Pizzorno has found himself entertaining an intimate crowd of less than 2,000.
But upon the release of his debut solo project under the guise of The S.L.P, the Leicester lad arrived at Birmingham’s O2 Institute for the third leg of a five-date tour.
After some slightly stale and uninspiring work from himself and the Kasabian boys in their recent recordings, Pizzorno has taken this self-titled record into a world of his own.
The project, which features collaborations with Mercury Award nominees slowthai and Little Simz, takes you on a rollercoaster ride brimming with surprises from start to finish.
It’s a journey through an array of genres and influences — from psychedelic funk to hip-hop, soul, new-wave and more.
Taking centre stage with his band hidden behind a black screen, Sergio kicks off the evening’s affairs with the mysterious instrumental album opener Meanwhile… In Genova before immersing us with the electronic sounds of Lockdown.
With the Little Simz bars absent from Birmingham on this occasion until her sold-out show at Mama Roux’s next month, next up is the boisterous and chaotic lead single Favourites as silver confetti is fired into the lively pit.
A suit and tie combo, white tank top vest and multi-coloured patterned festival shirt were among a bundle of outfits as he disappears regularly to make more costume changes than a London Fashion Week model — although they were impressively speedy and he oozes coolness, so no complaints.
The raucous Soldiers 0008, the most akin to a Kasabian tune on the album, is an audience hit while there is a more melancholic feel to Meanwhile… At The Welcome Break.
“Some days I wake up and I feel alive, some days I wake up and I know I’ll be alright,” chants the crowd in its euphoria for Nobody Else.
His most intriguing output comes in the form of The Wu — an upbeat dance tune that really epitomises the huge contrast of ideas across the record.
Pizzorno smashes through the riotous The Youngest Gary before vanishing from the stage only to appear up on the balcony, slowly making his way around from fan to fan and challenging each side of the venue to out sing one another. He firmly has the room in the palm of his hands.
The night ends with a fantastic extended rendition of pop bop ((trance)). After performing his full catalogue of 11 solo songs, he disappears into the night without returning for the usual statutory encore, even resisting himself from pulling out a solo rendition of a Kasabian classic to easily please the crowd.
It didn’t matter though. It was the perfect end to a really impressive performance. And his adoring fans couldn’t have asked for more as they poured out of the venue chanting: “Sergio! Sergio!”
After this tour it will soon be business as usual when he gets the band back together for Kasabian’s seventh studio album.
We can only hope there’s plenty more to come from The S.L.P in years to come.
Let’s hope these influences are prominent in the upcoming Kasabian album.
Reviewer: Tom Oakley