Kaiser Chiefs (08/05/12)
Live at The Hi-Fi, Brisbane.
Supported by: Loon Lake and Deep Sea Arcade
Review by Jo Michelmore
So, you want to be in a rock band. Number one: you need to know how to perform. You can have all the greatest songs in the world, but if you can’t perform them you’ve got nothing. Lesson one in rock performance: the Kaiser Chiefs. Let’s start at the beginning.
Choose your pre-performance music well. You need to get the audience happy, but not too happy. They want to hear good songs, but not ones that will outshine your own. Choose people like Loon Lake (rock pop, easy to listen to and not offensive, a band to watch out for in the future) and Deep Sea Arcade (standard indie rock, ten songs, solid enough to fill some time before the band we came to see comes on). The playlist of background music just before the Kaiser Chiefs shouldn’t have surprised me, they were mostly fellow Englishmen – The Vaccines, The Stone Roses, Artic Monkeys; some of these artists would probably be on my own pre-show playlist so this was an excellent wait for some of my own favourite Englishmen.
Your band’s entrance is important. Unassuming works well. The Kaiser Chiefs wander out, t-shirts and jeans, denim clad, the unpretentious characters they are, Ricky immediately standing atop an amp, arms in the air demanding the crowd yell louder, then he bursts into the opening refrain of ‘Na Na Na Na Naa’; the enthusiastic crowd happily yelling along. The energy doesn’t stop; every song so solid, not a beat missed, not a word wrong, not a bounce un-bounced. ‘Every Day I Love You Less And Less’, ‘Little Shocks’, ‘Modern Way;' they power through songs from every record like it’s their last ever show and the audience loves it, the venue jumping at the start of every song.
For your band to be successful, you need someone with that unexplainable something. It has to be said, the Kaiser Chiefs are an awesome bunch of musicians, but Ricky Wilson is an incredible front man. He’s the epitome of what a lead singer should be. If I was in a band, I’d want someone like him in my band or I’d like to be him. There’s something, just something you can’t quite put your finger on, it’s what they call that x factor I suppose, he just radiates a something that makes you stare at him as he bounces around the stage and it’s hard to focus on anything but him. He’s a showman, encouraging audience participation all the time, getting the crowd to sing and clap whenever possible, there’s nothing boring about a Kaiser Chiefs gig. Ricky gets as close to the audience as possible, standing on the stage barrier, the security guys holding the back of his jeans so he doesn’t fall, he performs almost a whole song from there. Mid way through the gig he climbs on a barrier and wanders toward the back of the room, performing a whole song from halfway back in the venue. I get the feeling he would be happy to jump around in front of 40,000 people in a stadium or three people in a karaoke room. He just oozes performance and it’s fantastic. The amount of energy the band poured into an intimate performance was amazing to see. I was lucky enough to see them from the front row at Splendour In The Grass last year and that gig will go down as one of my all-time favourites. Watching them at the Hi-Fi it’s almost exactly the same, they don’t care how many are watching, as long as someone is watching. For me, that’s a sign of an awesome band.
At your band’s performances, you’ll need to decide when to do your encore. You don’t want your audience to be bored, but you want them to want you back on stage. Ten or eleven songs is about what you should be looking at. The Kaiser Chiefs finish the first time with ‘The Angry Mob’, a great choice, so quick and punchy and yellable, no one has any excuse to be at the bar while this one is on. They leave for a small amount of time, enough for the stomping of feet and yelling of “Kaiser!!!” before they come back to play four more songs. They do something which I sometimes find annoying, making their last song an obvious choice, but this is such an energetic sing-along I can’t help but love the fact they finished with it and I got to yell along with them; “Oh my God I can’t believe it, I’ve never been this far away from home”. I’m only four kilometres from my house, but they manage to make me feel a million miles away, I could be anywhere singing along and it would be one of the most fun gig moments I’ve known. It leaves me with a smile on my face and that’s how you want your fans to leave a performance.
So you want to be in a rock band. What you’ll need to do is see the Kaiser Chiefs. See them numerous times. See them as many times as you can. They’ll rock and you’ll bounce and you’ll sing and they’ll make you wonder whether you really want to be in a band. They’re that fun to see, it’s hard to believe it could be more fun on stage than in the audience watching. That’s how good they are. That’s quite good.