Shuddering strobes lit the walls of the iconic Palace Theatre on Wednesday night, as Kaiser Chiefs jolted onto stage. This blistering entrance was an accurate indication of all that would follow: an engaging, high-energy performance that enthralled the audience from start to finish.
Melbourne-based Loon Lake had earlier kick-started proceedings with their feel-good indie-pop gems, Bad To Me, and In the Summer. They were shortly followed by psychedelic-pop quintet, Deep Sea Arcade, who opened with Seen No Right, a quirky performance laced with ethereal guitars and unshakeable pop-hooks. Both support bands provided light-hearted entertainment for a rapidly filling venue.
Kaiser Chiefs emerged on stage to the shuddering beat of Dire Straits’ hit Money For Nothing.
Notorious for his extravagant showmanship, frontman Ricky Wilson didn’t waste a second. Climbing atop the front security-barricade during the opener, Na Na Na Na Naa, he continued rousing an already-eager, unruly audience.
The theatrics continued into Everything Is Average Nowadays, as Wilson thrashed his tambourine and microphone-stand erratically about the stage. The energy was steadily leading into Everyday I Love You Less and Less, Little Shocks, and I Predict a Riot, which sent arms and bodies flying in the front rows.
New material from The Future is Medieval (2011) was infrequent amid a setlist heavy with the crowd-pleasing classics of Employment (2005), and Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007). This came as no surprise ahead of Kaiser Chief’s greatest hits release Souvenir: The Singles, available on June 4.
A short moment of composure during cow-bell driven Modern Way, gave the heaving audience a chance to regain themselves, as Wilson’s impressive vocals radiated above sombre instrumentals.
The Angry Mob prompted a cult-like momentum, the progressive tempo and repetitive chants resonating through the venue.
Then, as guitarist Andrew White thrust into the opening chords of Ruby, the crowd hit fever-pitch. A mass sing-along of the anthemic chorus line, ‘Ruby-ruby-ruby-ruby’ sparked a thrilling atmosphere in the trembling Palace Theatre.
In true rock-star fashion, Wilson bounded from the stage, dashed through the crowd, and stood on the bar, declaring “We’re the Kaiser Chiefs!”. It wasn’t the first time during the evening that the animated frontman had informed us of that. “I’m going to need something stronger!”, he joked, dramatically throwing his beer to the ground. “Give me a shot of Jack Daniels!”
Kaiser Chief’s power to engage an audience was proved yet again, as Wilson annihilated the shot, clambered up the stairs to the front balcony, and belted out a blistering performance of Take My Temperature.
He quickly returned to the stage to join the band in, Listen to Your Head, the rowdy audience applauding as the quintet bowed and disappeared from sight. There was little chant for a return, as the room burst into chatter, the audience patiently anticipating an encore without having to work for one.
The band returned to stage, launching into a bass-heavy Loves Not a Competition (But I’m Winning). Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines led the Leeds’ heroes into an impressive finale of Oh My God, with a skilful jangling of keys.
The crowd were on their feet, roaring from the upper levels of the shaking Palace, “Oh my god I can’t believe it, I’ve never been this far away from home!”
The band finally retreated from the stage, elated and exhausted. The closing song proved to be a worthy end to an all-round engaging, high-energy performance.