Kaiser Chiefs/Black Kids/Esser - Cardiff International Arena
It doesn't take much to set them off. A slow selling single, a pinprick of blood in the ocean and the sharks are circling. The word on the streets is that the Kaiser Chiefs are finished. Washed up. Trouble is, no-one told the Kaiser Chiefs and no-one told Cardiff. This was no wake, this was a riot and you should have been there. If you had been then you'd also have caught a glimpse of Esser, part Kid Creole and the Coconuts and a big helping of a young Cliff Richard. Nothing revelatory but he's engaging enough. Black Kids appear to be a far more interesting package and exist at the intersection of the Cure and Human League. We'll hear more from these kids for sure.
But, back to the business at hand, the supposed demise of Kaiser Chiefs. Lets get it straight, the band have no ideas above their station, they are here to do a job and they do it damn well. They don't try and play it clever, they play the hits and they join a list of classic British pop artistes from George Formby, through The Beatles, The Jam, XTC and the Mondays who are not afraid to give the general public what they damn well want. They look sharp too, a light show the like of which I've not seen since New Order at Reading paints them in their best light and makes a statement. They are here to put on a show and you resist at your peril.
It isn't all planned to perfection though and they mystify me somewhat by kicking off their set with the rather meandering Spanish metal, although they do swiftly remedy this faux pas of scheduling with the crowd pleasing Every day I love you less and less which finally transforms the clinical surrounds of the CIA into something resembling a rock and roll show. Ricky Wilson is hyperactive, a whirling dervish of flailing, angular limbs and shapes from within which he somehow manages to deliver the lyrics. When he suddenly disappears off stage and into the crowd it is quite something to behold and I fear, not for his safety, but for the lives of anyone who gets in the way of his manic pogo frenzy.
Ruby catches the attention of the crowd and acts as the catalyst for much arms aloft, beer waving singalong action – although I’m convinced that some of the lairy louts rechristen it “Rugby, rugby, rugby”. The highlight of the evening, however, comes in the brutal double header of Never Miss a Beat and I Predict a Riot which, it would seem, are the prime motivation for the attendance of the vast majority of this fairly unpartisan crowd. There’s no shame in what the Kaiser Chiefs do, they’ve entertained here tonight and sent busloads of people home happy that they’ve heard the hits. Essentially they now largely appear to exist in order to play live music to people who don’t really buy records unless they have the words Now that’s what I call... in the title. Whether becoming a Beautiful South for the 21st Century is the future that the band had imagined for themselves remains to be seen. Personally, I think they are better than this and perhaps they need to start thinking in odd time signatures and complex chords before the fashionista sharks really scent some blood.