Originally written: 16th December 2011
Approaching the venue (ok, I ran, in the manner of a small child) I found I could little contain my excitement for this gig. The reason for this, however, was the support act. Miles Kane was 90% of the reason I even bought a ticket. It’s not that I don’t like Kasabian, it’s just that I’ve never really loved them, so much as I feel is sufficient to see them live without feeling like a fraud among the die-hards. Miles has been the soundtrack to my summer, and I felt it only right to show my appreciation in person, so I planted myself firmly at the front, with elbows ready to defend my territory.
Call me biased, but he was brilliant. Hopefully this tour has gained Miles more recognition, his solo debut Colour of the Trap is a rather underrated release this year. A newly-announced tour next year should also help him fully emerge from Alex Turner’s shadow and establish himself as an artist in his own right. His set moved through fast and slow songs, all with that distinct old-style rock ‘n’ roll sound. He even threw in a Jacques Dutronc cover. Altogether he met a great reception from the crowd, and at that point I would have been happy to leave.
My mind was changed when Kasabian took to the stage, opening with ‘Days Are Forgotten’. For a moment I was confused, I could hear singing but there was no sign of Tom Meighan (lead vocals). It turned out my poor positioning behind a speaker stack had hidden him from my view. There was no miming. From that first song, I realised how wrong I’d been to write off the band all this time- I was blown away. The diversity of their sound is amazing, one minute you can be shouting along and rocking out, the next minute you’re being led through a psychedelic storm of sound. They translate their music from record to stage excellently, some bands omit parts, or just generally manage to mangle what on record sounded so good, but with Kasabian everything is there- what’s recorded is recreated perfectly live. ‘ID’ slotted in nicely to the set- a very trippy, mostly instrumental song compared to the rest. ‘Take Aim’ was a definite highlight in my opinion- Serge (Pizzorno, lead guitar and backing vocals) took the lead and, well, I was enraptured. I’ll admit, the first time I heard the song properly was when I knew they would be playing it, but I thought it was excellent- despite not being able to remember the words.
Unlike Arctic Monkeys, my positioning on the barrier allowed me to actually watch the band, and appreciate the performance more, I think. Both Serge and Tom managed to get the audience going, but in their showmanship they are somewhat lacking. There was little banter between songs, clearly they prefer to let the music do the talking. Thankfully, this is something they have no problem with. Tracks old and new were well-received, but ones from West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, their breakthrough third album, were the ones the audience were most responsive to.
I don’t normally really notice, but the stage effects were great. During ‘LSF’ a camera skimmed across the crowd, displaying audience members on the large screens. Every few seconds a photograph would be captured, and these end up on the Kasabian Facebook page, which is a brilliant idea in theory. However, logging on later to check where my photo was, I was met with a set of pictures which mostly show one group of people. Where are the rest of the audience? Where am I?! If anything, it’s a novelty, and a nice memento of the gig- for those five or six people. Surely whoever uploaded the pictures must have noticed the same people were in each one?
Despite the obvious oversight in failing to feature me in all my sweaty gig glory (come to think of it… Maybe it’s for the best there’s not a photo of me), Kasabian were a very pleasant surprise. I had expected to go and sing along to all the songs I knew, but I didn’t expect them to actually be… good. Scratch that, I didn’t expect to be absolutely blown away. Kasabian, I feel, have always been somewhat underrated- it took three goes for them to really break into the mainstream as much as their classmates, The Killers and Arctic Monkeys. But now they’ve done it, they’ve proved there’s no doubt they’re worthy of every piece of recognition they get, and that they can completely conquer any arena they set foot in.
Photographs courtesy of Emma Morgan