It was a tough decision for music lovers last Wednesday, with Boy and Bear, The Maccabees and Kaiser Chiefs all choosing the same night to put on a show. Each playing at Melbourne’s premiere venues (The Forum, The HiFi and Palace respectively), but one solid crowd chose to pack themselves into the mosh pit and balconies of the Bourke Street localé to welcome back Kaiser Chiefs, and their new album, to our shores.
Touring as a part of Groovin’ The Moo, it hasn’t actually been that long since last Kaiser Chiefs graced our shores with their energetic presence. Frontman Ricky Wilson acknowledging this fact after kick-starting the show with fast-paced favourite “Na Na Na Na Naa” and new track “Kinda Girl You Are“.
“It’s been five minutes since we were last here. We had to go home and do a bit of homework – learn some new songs!” Wilson exclaims, after introducing themselves with the house lights blazing bright golden; and the ball doesn’t stop rolling for the next ninety minutes.
The devoted audience are all as much a part of the Kaiser Chiefs as the fellows from Leeds are themselves. Groovin’ the Moo is comparatively a longer-lasting festival to play, and as the finish line is in sight, with the final leg of the tour in Bunbury, it’s taken a bit of a toll on them, and it shows.
Wilson still excels at leading both band and crowd with his charismatic, inoffensively arrogant banter but occasionally slumps over his mic stand or leans heavily on various amps across the stage for a tad longer than expected.
No matter though, because a flick of his hair and a few pumped up jumps on the spot later, Wilson gets right back into it with sky-high energy as “I Predict a Riot” stays true to its title, with the floor bending and stretching with the swarming mosh.
“This one’s a new song… Yeah, I can see you, shaking your head,” says Wilson, pointing an unseen female member of the audience, “You can go. This one’s for her, she’s gonna fucking love it!” We’re treated to new tracks from their latest effort, The Future is Medieval, including first single “Little Shocks” and “Starts with Nothing.”
Later, “Modern Way” shrouds the room in a deep blue doona, echoing cow bell and Simon Rix’s fantastic bass strumming. Wilson exits the stage for an all-too-brief band jam under glowing gold and purple lighting before returning – fresh beer in one hand and sweat-sodden towel in the other – for crowd favourite, “Ruby.”
The chorus is gleefully reverberated by the crowd, positively drowning out Wilson and co’s own vocals. “Never Miss A Beat” swiftly follows without, as one could guess, ever missing a beat. By which point Wilson takes a break by running through the crowd, straight to the bar where he stands atop and asks for a drink.
Receiving another beer, Wilson drinks half and scoffs, “I’ma need something stronger than that, I need a shot of Jack Daniels. You know we’re the Kaiser Chiefs, right? We’ve come a loooong fucking way!” and promptly downs the amber liquid in one gulp. He takes the stairs two at a time to the first level of the mezzanine, (all the while the lads held back on-stage by their with instruments, are playing a rock ‘n roll-y type of elevator music), to hang with the folk up there and generally make sure everybody is having a good fucking time.
His run back to the stage becoming a swagger as he declares, “we’re about to put the icing on the cake and, maybe if you’re lucky, the cherry,” he cheekily winks as they begin to finish with the curiously addictive new single, “Listen to Your Head.” Upon finishing, the ever-humble Wilson claims, “you can all say now that you saw the biggest fucking song in the world played.”
The inevitable encore includes “Love Is Not a Competition (But I’m Winning)” putting the crowd right back into the palm of Wilson’s hand, along with some strong backing vocals by drummer and principle song-writing Chief, Nick Hodgson, and dreamy guitar solos by Andrew “Whitey” White.
There’s an endearingly awkward musical interlude as the band talk amongst themselves before Hodgson explains to us, “Basically, we’re having technical difficulties.” Laughter ensues from the rest, giving Wilson another chance to show off his tambourine tricks before yelling, “this song is called “Oh My God””
The crowd, expecting this as the final encore song, loses it and follow word-for-word. It’s certainly a shorter version than everyone hopes for but nevertheless take hold of the final sparks of electricity in the room tightly, as the band take one last bow and wave goodbye.
After Splendour last year, they’ve certainly stepped up their stage show. Although they play all the hits (literally almost every track heard tonight is present on their recent collection, Souvenir: The Singles 2004-2012) they do so faithfully and with few surprises – apart from Wilson’s entertaining antics.
That being said, they keep the ardent fans stoked. Here’s hoping they remain regulars on the increasingly smaller Australian festival scene.
– Anne-Louise Hill