Great Escape 2014: Kaiser Chiefs live
Following the previous day’s rainfest, Friday’s Great Escape saw Brighton drenched in glorious sunshine. And while the walk to the Concorde II was still ridiculously windswept, it was certainly hangover exorcising. Also, the pot of gold at its end was perhaps the most high-profile of the Festival’s many secret shows. Amazon Artist Lounge Live: The Secret Show, was to feature none other than Leeds’ finest, Kaiser Chiefs.
The show would have been even more secret had the band not leaked details on their Twitter the night before, but still, anyone who got there early enough got a fantastic vantage point to see a band playing in an intimate venue with a capacity of just over 500.
The gang took to the stage at 1.30pm and set about showing why they are one of Britain’s most celebrated live acts. Any worries about a level of sluggishness or half-heartedness due to the early start and the fact that it was a free gig were blown away by the chorus of the first song.
Ricky Wilson might be a Television Celebrity these days, but this performance proved that he is first and foremost one of the most fun and engaging frontmen in the business. Within a minute of the show starting, the newly-lithe singer had a serious sweat on as he bounced between wedges in his skintight Huey Lewis and the News T-shirt, yelling the chorus of Everyday I Love You Less and Less as if his life depended on it.
What followed was an hour of Wilson dominating the stage, leaping off the drumkit, climbing into the crowd and literally swinging from the rafters, while the band belted out a selection of classics and newies. I Predict a Riot was as… well… riotous as ever, while Ruby offered the kind of simple, massive chorus that is impossible not to join in with. Elsewhere, The Angry Mob was another one to holler along to.
The one question mark that hung over this gig regarded the new material. On first listen in a live environment, it was hard to make out the songs’ quality, but there is no denying that their general sound is markedly different from the band’s back catalogue. There seems to have been some dispute over how much influence ex-drummer Nick Hodgson had on the creation of the band’s songs before he left but, on this evidence, it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t the principle songwriter. The group’s new tracks step away from the punchy, yell-along indie pop that has served them so well and instead dip their toes into songs that – on first listen – sounded quite power-ballady. Incidentally Hodgson was also at the festival, playing a lo-key gig the following day with his new band, Albert Albert.
As Kaiser Chiefs’ set neared its conclusion, Wilson split the audience down the middle and ventured into the open space created. He sat on the floor and demanded everyone else did the same, before leading a choral rendition of Oh My God. It was a fun end to a cracking gig.
It felt weird leaving such a raucous, sweaty show by such a big band to find it was still only just after 2.30pm. This brilliant, energetic Amazon Artist Lounge Live Secret Show was a fine way to start the day and summed up what is so good about The Great Escape. You can step out of a gig like this from one of Britain’s biggest bands, walk a few hundred yards up the street to see East India Youth and then cross a road to the next venue to check out a local act of which you’ve never heard.
It’s a real musical melting pot and there was no doubt that, on this sunny Friday, Kaiser Chiefs were the strongest tasting ingredient.
Kaiser Chiefs live review and pictures by Bobby Townsend.