It was a win-win all around on Friday night. Zac got to spend the evening with his grandparents, they got to spend time with him, and Heather and I got a rare pass for the evening to go to Wembley Arena to see the Kaiser Chiefs on the final date of their UK tour.
And what a gig it was too. Wembley, with its elongated layout, can lack atmosphere as a concert venue, but from the moment the Kaisers fired up the opening bars of ‘Spanish Metal’, pretty much the entire crowd was on its feet and belting out the songs in full-throated unison. No gentle ripples of polite applause between songs here.
What followed was 90 minutes of relentless foot-stomping, fist-pumping, lung-bursting magic – it’s all heart-on-sleeve stuff; they don’t do quiet introspection – with Ricky Wilson barely pausing for breath between songs, racing across the stage and pogoing up and down like, well, as their own lyric goes, a powered-up Pac Man.
The band raced through a 16 song set which sprinkled in tracks from the latest album ‘Off With Their Heads’ – all of which sounded infinitely better live than they do shackled by the constraints of tight studio production – with the old favourites: ‘Everyday I Love You Less And Less’ and ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays’ early on, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Modern Way’ in the middle, and a run of four to close the set which included ‘Never Miss A Beat’, ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘The Angry Mob’, by the end of which the not so much angry as deliriously happy mob was doing its best to raise the roof by punching out the chorus at an increasing volume.
A fair few people drifted out between the end of the set and the encore. (I’ll never understand why people do that. Did they have trains to catch? Was the gig not entertaining enough? Did they just not know there was going to be an encore?) Those who did missed the emphatic full stop on a mega evening, with a rousing three song coda ending on the Pac Man-referencing, football chant of an anthem that is ‘Oh My God’.
It was a brilliant, brilliant night. I’ve been humming Kaiser Chiefs songs under my breath all weekend and only now, fully 72 hours later, do I feel that I’ve finally shaken off the hoarseness in my voice. The Kaisers have never managed to replicate the commercial success of their debut album, ‘Employment’, but the quality of their output – particularly when heard in the flesh – has never wavered, and their reputation as a great live band remains intact.
Roll on the next tour. We’ll be there.