The Kaiser Chiefs / Black Kids / Esser

Wembley Arena, London on Fri 6th Mar 2009

This is my first ever Wembley Arena gig. I've been to a few at the old stadium but this is a new experience. We get in okay, queues are minimal and the short wait doesn’'t make any headlines with us. The public transport links are as good as you'd expect from the arena next to a national stadium. Making our way to the bars, they don't seem overly crowded and after being served I wonder if the 4 quid a pint has put people off!

Curiosity pulls us to the arena floor as Esser is rounding off their set. It sounds like well executed electro from the brief blast we get before they leave the stage. Those that have got there early seem pretty impressed though. I take in my surroundings: The outside of the arena looks quite pretty from the approach but once inside, it looks like the kind of place you'd find a cruise liner under construction. Pretty it ain't and the overhead gantry holding the speakers for most of the arena floor seem to be too high up to deliver any impact. I'm wondering whether the venue suits the band – fair dos, it packs in the numbers but a band that writes such individual songs, to my mind might be better placed in a venue with more character.

Thirst means further exploration is necessary and back to the bar again. By now it's got very busy and the queues for drinks and loos seem infeasibly long. That means we miss most of Black Kids but their big hit 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance' rings out as we make our way back to the floor. They leave the stage as we head to the front of the sound desk in the middle of the floor. Tension builds up and the space fills as we await the arrival of the Kaiser Chiefs. It's after 9:00pm when a man dressed in a doctor's uniform holding a clipboard walks across the stage – making sure we're all okay and responding well to our chosen medication requests.

We're all illuminated as the Kaiser Chiefs make their way to the stage and there's much excitement from the crowd. The Glitzy looking curtain backdrop has powerful spotlights all over it. When they're in their positions, they immediately get down to 'Spanish Metal'. It goes down reasonably, but in my opinion, it's nothing more than okay and the sound isn't clear (a bit quiet for my liking). The crowd seem up for it, the band seems up for it, but from my point of view, it's still not brilliant. Perhaps it's the choice of opener, perhaps it's the sound, or perhaps it's because we're all settling in for the night. Whatever, it isn't as slick and bouncy as I'd anticipated.

They go straight into 'Every Day I Love You Less and Less' and that doesn't really get me going either. Perhaps it's just me though - the dad in front of me seems to be bouncing more than his offspring and I'm beginning to wonder who dragged who along to the show. As I look around the age range is really quite broad and most of them are bouncing about, pelting out the tunes and waving their arms in the air without a worry.

'Everything Is Average Nowadays' steps it up a notch and I can feel myself warming to them as the Ricky piles up and down the stage, whooping up the audience who respond nicely and chant the chorus back at him with great gusto. 'Heat Goes Down' gets inside my skull and really catapults the gig forwards from my perspective. Ricky is belting the tambourine, then beating a wood block and the sound seems to get cranked up, the pace of the song picks up and the drums kick in and it sounds like they're being played by a caveman wilding a pair of massive clubs. As we reach the end of the song, it's risen into a pounding beat and the infectious bounce has spread across the floor and found me too.

My wife's a bit on the short side and was disappointed that the big screens that we've seen at other venues aren't available here. She's not been able to see much so far, despite hopping up and down a lot so she's delighted when we spot Ricky dangling off a lighting rig at the side of the stage.

The lights decorating all turn red and like some kind of ruby red TV interference - it's time for 'Ruby'. The gig seems to be rolling along nicely and when Dave - the chef from the Kaiser Chief's recording studio - is invited on stage to join in 'Good Days Bad Days' on the djembe, my feet have developed a mind of their own, and a will to dance. The sound from the chef's drum coupled with the rest of the band is pretty magical and, it works really well and it's plain to see that Dave is really enjoying himself banging his drum.

Another track that really stands out is the popular 'Angry Mob' but for me, the evening really kicks up another gear for 'I Predict A Riot'. An aircraft hangar full of pogoing nutters helps seal that one for me. Followed by 'Take My Temperature', where all of the house lights are turned off and Ricky appears on the podium a few feet away from us dressed in black shirt, and red tie. My wife is bouncing like she's been possessed and a grin that will remain for the rest of the evening is fixed to her face. I reckon this made her night! As the song draws to a close, he's surrounded by security, and he jumps off and is escorted back to the main stage.

'The Angry Mob', and 'Oh My God' complete the evening which has turned around nicely. I'm not sure Ricky is expecting the last chorus – it seems to me that there is a slight pause before he smiles and starts belting it out again. Drummer Nick Hodgson kicks his bass drum off the stage as they leave after an encore and addresses the crowd with a rock 'n' roll "toodle pip".

This is the last night of a seven week tour for the Kaiser Chiefs and as we leave, I'm feeling tired and wondering what effect seven weeks of touring, with the high energy that the band have all shown this evening, would have on me. They've been very humble and thanked just about everyone who has made the tour and the night a success. I'd like to thank them. The riot looked a long way off at the start but they definitely delivered!

Set list:
Spanish Metal
Every Day I Love You Less and Less
Everything Is Average Nowadays
Heat Dies Down
It's a Mystery
Good Days Bad Days
Na Na Na Na Na
Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)
Like It Too Much
Modern Way
Half The Truth
Never Miss A Beat
I Predict A Riot
Take My Temperature
The Angry Mob

Tomato In The Rain
Always Happens Like That
Oh My God

article by: James Tayler

published: 10/03/2009 11:23

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