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BWW Review: KAISER CHIEFS, Royal Albert Home

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BWW Review: KAISER CHIEFS, Royal Albert Home

It was an important year for me, 2004. I started sixth form (no more school uniform!) and the Kaiser Chiefs burst onto the music scene. I discovered them through Soccer AM and my borderline obsession with the music channels on Sky, their pop-punky beats, smart lyrics, and incredible energy grabbing me by the throat and forcing me to pay attention. Sixteen years later and t'Chiefs are still going strong - as is my love of the band.

They are the latest act to take to the Royal Albert Home stage, performing a 30-minute set that selectively spanned the entirety of their career: the ultimate lockdown selection. I continue to be amazed at how technology is being harnessed to bring such a variety of entertainment directly to our homes. To assemble a five-piece band from their own homes - by whatever virtual means - and for it to actually feel like you were at an intimate gig is quite an achievement.

There was no attempt to ease themselves in, either, as they went full pelt into "Everyday I Love You Less And Less" for their opening number. As demonstrated during the Employment listening party (part of Tim Burgess' ever-growing programme), it's the perfect way to kick things off, blowing away the cobwebs and getting the adrenaline pumping. Certain that everyone was fully energised, they then hurtled back to the present day and dreams of domestic bliss in "Golden Oldies", after that stopping off at Education, Education, Education & War (a real favourite of mine) with "Coming Home" - though, as lead singer Ricky Wilson pointed out, "We're all staying at home at the moment" - before continuing forward in time to "Hole In My Soul".

As Vijay Mistry's bass drum began to pound the intro to "Never Miss A Beat", Wilson took the opportunity to jokingly say sorry about the noise: "I apologise to the neighbours upstairs, Joe Wicks is up there - but he's always banging around in the mornings..." I imagine it must feel quite weird for artists to be performing these kinds of sessions with no immediate feedback or interaction with the audience, but efforts to make it feel as gig-like as possible with cheeky comments like this definitely ups the entertainment value on our side.

"Everybody on your feet now!", called Wilson, with the instantly recognisable opening chords to "I Predict A Riot" warming up in the background - a song that has lost none of its bite over the years. It was definitely a fitting way to see out the set, before returning for number one smash "Ruby" in their 'encore'. No time for the quick outfit change that you'd often see at this point in a band's night - but if, like Wilson, you're all suited up for the occasion, why would you?

A perfect mini-set, with one glaring omission: my favourite Kaiser Chiefs track, "Oh My God". However, this is likely due to the fact that they recently recorded an updated version with lockdown-inspired lyrics - think Joes Wicks and Exotic, hand sanitiser, and pathogens.

As well as the dynamism from each band member's performance, the attempts to emulate a concert experience by adding lighting effects and video screen backdrops (Jason Hyne and Chris Leckie) made it a real visual treat. Top marks, too, to guitarist Whitey for bringing his own light and projection show to his screen - an unexpected but welcome psychedelic bonus.

Whilst I love a gig as much as the next person, being rather short can often impair your experience; I know you're there to listen to the music, but you try staring at the back of people's heads for two hours or so. These isolation concerts are ideal emergency substitutes for everyone missing live music and nice treats for those of us who'd like to see a band as well as hear them. This set from Kaiser Chiefs flew by in the brashest of flashes, providing some much-needed brightness and levity at a time of heightened anxiety and continued uncertainty.

Kaiser Chiefs performed as part of Royal Albert Home on 30 May


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From This Author Debbie Gilpin