Friday, 10 February 2012

Live review: Kaiser Chiefs, HMV Picture House, Edinburgh

 Is there any better way to celebrate events than visiting gigs? For most people I know, getting totally drunk and dancing to mindless techno music is sufficient enough, but my friends and I in our love of rock music and desires for something a little more classy, a gig is the best way to let our hair down, go a little crazy and have a full on experience of listening to music as it should be heard. And that's exactly what my friends Callum and Russell and I did last night. As a celebration of the hardship of prelims ending, and as a way to celebrate Callum's birthday and sort of my own despite it being just under a month ago and after being shunned the opportunity to see Mastodon, with the immediate conclusion being that going to the Glasgow Barrowlands would immediately result in me getting stabbed. So, I had a better idea, which was going to Edinburgh for the day and visiting the HMV Picture House to see the Kaiser Chiefs, one of the few bands that I still love from my youthful and more innocent days when the only music I was exposed to was whatever was in the charts and the magnificence of any kind of hardcore and metal music was to infect my veins. And after a stressful day of causing us all to get lost in Edinburgh, the gig was a perfect way to unwind, get rid of any stress and tension and go absolutely crazy.

 That being said, it does take a while for this insanity to commence. The last gig I was at was with Callum at December's monstrous Metal Hammer Defenders of the Faith III Tour which featured Rise to Remain, Ghost, In Flames and Trivium, all heavyweights in the world of metal, wether they have been confirmed legends or were up-and-coming bands that were on everyone's lips, so headbanging and moshpits were always guaranteed in each sets. However, tonight is an indie rock show, so the crowd is very different throughout with a lesser amount of headbanging and generally a shorter length of hair for the male audience to do it with. And with opening act Native Tongue having still having to release a debut EP, they find themselves performing to a small and relatively bored crowd. Still, their indie rock tunes carry a unique charm and their array of shimmering synthesizers and excessive cowbell usage is enough to make lots of spectators look up and pay a much greater attention.

Following this is Sunderland's Frankie & the Heartstrings, who I actually managed to listen to a little bit of before tonight's show. Their quirky indie pop songs like Hunger and Everyone Looks Better (In the Right Light) go down a treat, although the onstage prancing of frontman Frankie Francis is questionable at times, though it's quite fitting as the groups tunes are clearly crafted to be danced to with their influence from the pop songs of the 1950's and 1960's, but the audience aren't feeling like doing the twist tonight. Their lack of enthusiasm is further proved in Frankie's largely hopeless attempt to get the crowd to chant "WOOOOOAH" along with him. But this is early days for the group. The public love a good upbeat pop rock tune, so there's a good chance that 2012 could be their year.

But, lets be honest, we're all here for one thing tonight and the dramatic increase of audience members after Frankie & The Heartstrings proves this. There's a lot to be said about what has become of the Kaiser Chiefs in recent years. When they first released Employment in 2005 and Yours Truly, Angry Mob they were of wide mainstream appeal with singles appearing in charts and a new popularity brought to the influence of mod rock. Then 2008's Off With Their Heads was simply viewed as less substantial and the general public stopped caring for their efforts. By the time The Future is Medieval was released last year and became the first full album that I reviewed on ROARF, they seemed just as underground and unknown as many of the alt rock bands that are trying to make it in today's mainstream world of passing interests and shallow care with a new experimental sound that matched it. However, tonight's show sees the band acting with the triumph and swagger of millionaires who own the world and their pulsing and energetic performances of tracks like Everyday I Love You Less and Less and Ruby are an absolute delight as the audience chant along and an array of fist-pumping and and jumping is witnessed all around. These moments are the moments that make the night such as the chanting along from the audience of "We are the angry mob/ We're in the papers everyday/ We like who we like, we hate who we hate/ But we're also easily swayed" as frontman Ricky Wilson sings acapella before the rest of the band raises the roof with their almighty pounding raising the audience's sense of exhilaration with them. Wilson's performance is as equally breathtaking as the songs as he leaps around the stage, climbing on speakers, running into the balconies and standing on top of audience members during Everything is Average Nowadays. As the band close the night during the encore, they make the place go crazy with jumping, chanting and eventual headbanging with an explosive rendition of Oh My God, it's clear that the Kaiser Chiefs are a band that know the ways of rock n' roll and just because they're no longer a household name, there's no chance that they'll be slowing down any time soon.

 So, once again, tonight proved that gigs are the best way to party and the best experiences of one's life. Though alternative rock shows clearly don't have the same forceful impact as metal shows, there's still lots of fun and exciting moments to be had and when I discovered that many of my friends had celebrated ending their prelims by going to the cinema to see the awful looking The Grey, Ii sort of realised that having a passion for music and seeing it live ultimately leads to living life a little cooler and in a way that is more fulfilling that many others. Thanks to Callum and Russell for joining me in making it such an awesome evening.

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