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Live Review: Kasabian
Music's Caitlin Nash witnesses a spectacle of a set by Kasabian at Arena Birmingham
On Friday 8 November, Kasabian took the stage of Arena Birmingham for the first of the two Birmingham shows on their tour. The twelve dates came off the back of their sixth album For Crying Out Loud, released earlier this year. If the album itself and their summer headliner slots at Reading and Leeds festival were anything to go by, then fans were in for twelve nights that would epitomise why Kasabian are one of the country’s best ever bands.
Arriving half way though support band Slaves’ warm up set, it was clear that that crowd were already hungry for a party. With a band made of only two members, they were the perfect precursor for what was to come. Front man Laurie Vincent commanded the arena stage topless, getting the audience riled up with the political messages of their punk music and gritty, bluesy riffs. Their penultimate song, ‘Cheer Up London’, saw Vincent address the audience in a rant about London commuters, culminating in him encouraging the crowd to hug the person next to them, stranger or not. He went as far as singling out the front-of-stage security men, instructing them to hug one another. This sentimental moment was quickly interrupted by the opening lines of the 2015 song. The set finished with hit ‘The Hunter’, off their debut album. How the duo held the audience of an arena was commendable and there’s no doubt that they were the perfect choice for support act.
“When the timer hit 30 seconds, the lights dropped and the famous ‘Universal Studio Theme’ filled the arena. When the stopwatch showed 00:00:00, the stage exploded with lights
As Slaves left the stage, the screens on either side now displayed stop clocks counting down from 25 minutes. As the time wound down and the arena began to fill, the buzz of the audience rose in anticipation. When the timer hit 30 seconds, the lights dropped and the famous sound of the ‘Universal Studio Theme’, commonly played before films, filled the arena. As the stopwatch showed 00:00:00, the stage exploded with lights, revealing Kasabian opening the show with ‘Ill Ray (The King)’. This ran straight into their 2014 hit ‘Bumblebee’. Knowing they know had the crowd in the palm of their hands, lead singer Tom Meighan addressed the audience asking if they were ready for a party. With the roars of the crowd in response he began their trademark chants of ‘Eez-eh’. As the whole of the arena joined in, it fed into their track ‘Eez-eh’ off their 48:13 album.
The set list was a compilation of their greatest hits and a selection of tracks off the new album. Classics like ‘Shoot the Runner’ and ‘Underdog’ got the whole arena to their feet. Newer single ‘You’re in Love with a Psycho’ was received like an anthem. This was testament to the fact that this band are just as good now as they were 13 years ago, when their debut album was released. Frontman Serge commanded the stage with an acoustic version of ‘U-Boat’, a moment that could be described as the calm before the storm. Meighan asked the crowd if they remembered their debut album, joking that half the audience probably weren’t even born when it was released in 2004. As the audience anticipated what was about to come, the standing crowd began to part, setting the stage for a mosh pit to accompany the band’s biggest hit, ‘Club Foot’.
“Meighan asked the crowd if they remembered their debut album, joking that half the audience probably weren’t even born when it was released in 2004
The tracks seamlessly fed into one another, with Serge and Meighan sharing the front man role. When 2014 hit ‘Treat’ kicked in, Serge left the stage and paraded across the front of the standing area of the arena, often holding the mic out to the audience to sing the lyrics back to him, and every song played produced the same exuberant reaction from the crowd. Inside the arena, with snow falling outside, Kasabian brought a show reminiscent of the summer festivals. For the penultimate song of the set, ‘Put Your Life on It’, the band were joined on stage by a gospel choir. Serge, who had changed into white robes, called for the crowd to hold their lit up phones in air, a truly standout moment of the night, with the entire arena, lit only by torch lights, accompanying the track off the latest album. This almost calm moment was sharply contrasted by the final song of the main set, as Meighan called for people to get on each other’s shoulders, saying ‘It’s how we do this song’. Where there had once been a stop clock, the screens now showed a dB level and the crowd were challenge by Serge to ‘smash it’. Wall to wall the arena erupted as the first chords of ‘L.S.F.’ (Lost Souls Forever) started.
“There was only one song the set could end with; the crowd knew what was coming