Unsatisfied with Noel G’s new tunes, the parka monkeys invade his back yard of Manchester tonight, gathering to see the Leicester legends, Kasabian. Although foreign to Manchester, Kasabian are very much up there with the likes of Oasis and The Stone Roses in regard to the reception they receive upon playing in the city. Even the touts don’t have any standing tickets left for this sell out, and it is unlikely that the seated sections of the arena will make sensible use of them.
Opening the show are Tunbridge Wells two-piece Slaves. Having dabbled in the bigger stages at one-off gigs and festivals, this is the first arena tour which Slaves have embarked on. And by hell have they done their homework. The arena is sent into black out, as a neon Slaves emblem is the only thing to break the darkness. The once calm and collected atmosphere is smashed, as “Sockets” sees Fosters-fuelled Fred Perry fuckboys kick the shit out of one another as the tunes comes in full. As “White Knuckle Ride” follows, Isaac commits GBH on his crash cymbals, with his performance being a human re-enactment of a shaken bottle of coke. The set holds new material, seeing Slaves take their characteristic energy out of their performance, and encourage cheesy waving from the crowd. Slow, sombre but still Slaves. Prior to “Cheer Up London”, Isaac gives his own touching rendition of Hugh Grant’s speech in the opening of Love Actually, encouraging hugs all round, including security. Tense laser lighting aids “Sugar Coated Bitter Truth”, as guitarist Laurie Vincent writes and directs his own epileptic horror story, increasing the rate of feedback to intense flashes of light. The pair glide through a slightly dragged “Beauty Quest”, before concluding with hit single, “The Hunter”. Some-how we still have a headline act to go.
The use of a countdown on the side screens has been carried over from the 48:13, and a questionable lo-fi hip hop mix occupies the airwaves until zero. Again, the arena goes into darkness, with the correlation of light to noise completely opposing one another. Multiple film company noises are played, indicating that this is going to be a blockbuster performance. Without much time to recognise, the ascending vocal sample of “Ill Ray (The King)”, as an all in white Kasabian take to the stage looking like a broken Christmas bauble. Strangely, “Bumble Bee” see’s the crowd quieten down, as there is not enough build up for the brutal opening to take its full effect. There is an element of shakiness in this performance, which leaks over into “Eez- Eh” and “Twentyfourseven”, a visual drop within the energy. The iconic riff of “Underdog” corrects this, but the final chorus punch is killed with a cock-up from Ian Mathew. who’s nightmare seems to also change the setlist. The arena is left confused as Meighan introduces the next song:“This ones about psychos”, before a poor performance of “Shoot The Runner”. It’s all a bit hairy.
But not for long. “This one is definitely about psychos”, confirms Meighan, before a flawless performance of a lead single of this year’s album. An added vocal melody creates a beautiful atmosphere, as girlfriends take to shoulders and Tom and Serge prove they are the only real bromance in British music. The studio version of “Wasted”,isn’t something to listen to twice and is the most average song in the set, as an orange tractor beam doesn’t really suit the song. Serge then takes the arena into the palm of his hand as he performs “British Legion”, as the crowd follow his order to light up the arena with mobile phones.
Everyone knows the Fifa-score as the eerie noise of the intro of “Club Foot” is sprinkled over the airways. “Rewired” and “Empire” resume their rightful place in the set, as does “Treat”, with Serge taking the stage and crowd head on his own, with the best worst dancing ever. Another confused jam opens “God Bless This Acid House”, however, the crowd reaction shows how little fuck-ups actually matter, as the arena goes into full party mode. “Stevie” sticks out of the set, and does nothing but tire the old trick of including crowd-sang-final-chorus to drag out songs and get away with a smaller set list. Meanwhile, a choir has taken to the stage, meaning it’s either going to get cheesy or emotional but there’s no question of the atmosphere hitting the latter, and give perfect performances of “Put Your Life On It” and “LSF”.
Arguably the best way to open an encore, the trumpets of ‘Comeback Kid’ signal that the night is not over. With so much still to choose from, it’s hard for die hard Kasabian fans to have had a full-length headline set, with still much of their discography not performed, not to mention their covers which come as iconic every time. These thoughts are soon extinguished, as ace cards ‘Vlad’, ‘The Impaler’ and ‘Fire’ bring the crowd to the lowest low and the highest high multiple times within the space of ten minutes.
If tonight has been anything, it has been Serge and Tom bringing their little brothers, Isaac and Laurie to their first day of school. Slaves are no longer the punk band that the cool kids listen to. They are now a radio-friendly guitar band with a quickly growing fan base. It works both ways: if Tom and Serge were your big brothers, you would be more than happy to stick by them. Kasabian can’t really do bad at the moment, with their debut album now 13 years old, they show no sign of aging or stopping whatsoever.
It is said that ‘For Crying Out Loud’ is the album that saved Tom Meighan’s life after the worst year of his life, and since ‘For Crying Out Loud’ followed, thank God it did.
“This is why we fucking do it man, for nights like this. When you leave here go and start a fucking band if you haven’t already!” were Serge’s final words tonight.
Words come so cheap, but when presented in such a way, who knows the wonders they can do.