Live Review, 3/20/12: Kaiser Chiefs Show They've Got More Than Singles at the Fillmore
Kaiser Chiefs at the Fillmore last night.
Walk The Moon
March 20, 2012
Better than: What you'd expect from a band you thought had three singles.
A band like the Kaiser Chiefs has it rough. Songs like "Oh My God" and "I Predict A Riot" are nearly eight years old now. When this group -- a rock act distinctive of a specific time, with a few notable singles -- is scheduled to come through town, it can bring to mind acts like Harvey Danger, or maybe The Hives. A dedicated fan base exists that will come and greet them, but everyone else already assumes they know what to expect. I've heard the singles, do I really need any more? What can you discover about an act like The Kaiser Chiefs?
For starters, the band released an album in the U.S. within the last month. It's called Start The Revolution Without Me, but onstage at the Fillmore last night, the band's backdrop oddly read, "The Future Is Medieval." Apparently this latest release is a repackaged version of that one (originally a 2011 UK-only LP), the band's first work since 2008. Singer Ricky Wilson actually did a nice job of telling the crowd what material was new and trying to rally them behind it ("The old ones are great, sure. But the new ones, that's where it's at."). The most compelling new song, "Listen to Your Head," is a brooding tune with distorted vocals and a driving bass/piano line that brings to mind fellow Brits Hard-Fi. (Ironically, though, this is a non-album track.) Kasabian was always the default "act that's big in the UK but barely makes a peep over here" among my friends, but Kaiser Chiefs are another one -- although this album received a 7/10 from the BBC, you'd be hard pressed to read about it stateside.
The energy you heard on the recordings mentioned above came through loud and clear last night. Much of it had to do with Wilson. He was constantly engaging the audience, at times with rock cliches ("The girls were dancing. [Pause for response]. The boys were dancing [Ditto]. The boys and girls were dancing [Yep, one more time]. But this one's for the girls.") but usually in a charming way. He even led the Fillmore in a rendition of "Happy Birthday, Peanut" for keyboardist Nick Baines before surprising his bandmate with a cake and some type of picture book.
But Wilson's strongest contribution to the band's energy comes from his antics. The man is relentless -- he never seemed to stay in one location for more than a few seconds. He became the most acrobatic lead singer I've ever seen as he scaled anything and everything he could inside the Fillmore: Monitors. Drumsets. Stage walls. Amp stacks. The second tier balcony. And he even joked about making a chance at the chandeliers.
The night's most surprising discovery, however, was the overall quality of The Kaiser Chiefs. I've never heard anyone mention the band's level of musicianship, and never had the urge to myself after listening to the hits. But live, the first word that comes to mind is "professional." You can tell this is a band that's been together for a while. Every player is in sync with each other, and they know when to back down or bring their individual parts to the forefront. In particular, drummer Nick Hodgson displayed unbelievable clarity during his runs, moving fluidly around his kit. His bandmates used their solo opportunities to show their capabilities with equal success.
Before finishing the initial set with "On The Run," Wilson allowed himself one last rock cliche. "You might have heard this one on your radios -- you have those right? [Pause] You might have heard this one on your computer systems." I can't speak for everyone, but it's hard to imagine the answer to that would have been "yes" unless we're talking about the song "Ruby" or one of the others mentioned above. Seeing The Kaiser Chiefs live makes you realize that situation is a shame.
Setlist after the jump.