Kasabian - iTunes Festival, Camden Roundhouse
When Kasabian announced they would be performing their celebrated debut album in full at this year's iTunes Festival, fans went into meltdown. Although many of its songs are mainstays of the current setlist (a lasting testament to its longevity), others have not seen the light of day for many years. Winning tickets to the Festival is a lottery, and it is rare that the diehard fans actually get in.
That eponymous debut was released almost ten years ago to the day (6th September 2004), when many in the crowd would still be watching Teletubbies. With a backdrop of the album sleeve flanking the stage, the band solemnly took the stage to the familiar electronic intro of one of their most famous songs, and soon the bone-crushing bass line of 'Club Foot' erupts. In a heartbeat fans around the world, glued to their computer screens to watch the live stream are swept back in time. Gone are Serge Pizzorno's mad slogan t-shirts and the garish flashes of hot pink. For the initiated in the crowd the atmosphere was one of reverence. Still a firm fan favourite, the first album has since taken on a life of its own, a symbol, a badge, a soundtrack, a manifesto of an era when Kasabian were still the best kept secret in rock. Each track was meticulously recreated, no added flourishes, nothing to distract from their original brilliance. The baggy rhythm of 'Processed Beats', the manic opening beats of 'Reason Is Treason', it was all there. The sinister instrumental interlude 'Orange' merged seamlessly into setlist staple and classic crowd sing-a-along 'L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)', yet when rowdier elements in the crowd attempted the familiar 'La la la!" chant at the end they were quickly muted with the beautiful 'Running Battle' setting the dignified tone again.
The second half was where it started to get emotional. The songs that had been locked away in the attic, the ones the fans had been waiting years for, at last making their long-awaited reappearance. The trippy brilliance of 'Test Transmission', with Pizzorno's beautifully emotive vocals: "The kings send their knights / Check these soul satellites / Test transmission / Is calling me back home," a magical moment indeed. Following the second interlude 'Pinch Roller', fan-fave 'Cutt Off' kicked in, momentarily dispelling the hypnotic spell cast by the previous songs' dreamy psychedelic tone. After that it was a roll call of tunes fans feared they'd never hear again: 'Butcher Blues', the eerie instrumental 'Ovary Stripe', the menacing 'U Boat', its coda continuing after the band had already left the stage.
But it wasn't over yet. Like Dorothy crash-landing in Oz, suddenly everything is in Technicolor again. The pink-fronted drum kit is back, the chronometer in the background counting down the seconds to when the champions would return to the stage. For it wasn't just one concert these lucky revellers got to see that night, but two. To the strains of 'Shiva' from the new album 48:13 the band bounded back on stage, Serge sporting a white t-shirt emblazoned with the words 'bin bag' and what appeared to be Buddhist prayer beads around his neck. If the crowd (and the band) were reserved during the first set, they were indeed in "ecstasy" as new single 'Bumblebee' burst forth, the crowd a last coming to life. "Now we're allowed to talk!' shouted Tom Meighan. "I hope you liked our support band," he quipped later, "They were alright weren't they?"
What followed was an exciting souped up set of old favorites from the last four albums. The sexy glam rock of 'Shoot The Runner', 'Underdog' from 2009's West Ryder plus new songs 'Eez-eh' (with Meighan leading the chant), 'Stevie' and 'Bow', marking its first appearance in a UK show. Two old favorites also made a reappearance: the excellent 'Fast Fuse' from West Ryder, and Velociraptor's 'Goodbye Kiss', performed in the original album version for the first time since being released as a single in 2012.
'Empire', from the 2006 album of the same name, unexpectedly started off the encore, its new intro pulsating beats off the venue's walls. 'Vlad The Impaler' and a rousing rendition of 'Fire' finish things off. With Meighan again thanking their support band Kasabian, the band left the stage with the crowd, and no doubt the viewers back home, still shellshocked over what they had just experienced. Not one but two complete sets by Britain's reigning kings of rock. Long-lost classics, crowd-pleasing favorites - it was a night no one will forget for a very long time.
Set one: Club Foot, Processed Beats, Reason Is Treason, ID, Orange, L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever), Running Battle, Test Transmission, Pinch Roller, Cutt Off, Butcher Blues, Ovary Stripe, U Boat
Set two: Bumblebee, Shoot The Runner, Underdog, Stevie, Days Are Forgotten, Eez-eh, Fast Fuse, Bow, Re-Wired, Treat, Goodbye Kiss
Empire, Vlad The Empaler, Fire