Oddly enough we weren't looking forward to this one so much by the time it arrived. I'd first come across Kaiser Chiefs a couple of years previously, latching on to their excellent "I Predict A Riot" single first time around, then trying to persuade Rachel to get tix for their Spring 2005 Bristol Anson Rooms gig. Rach preferred to wait until she heard the album, so we did, and on the day of its release the whole tour sold out! D'oh! Further tours went the same way, so it was that we had to get tix to see a band with one album behind them, in a cavernous 13,000 capacity arena. In the meantime, the KCs had become ubiquitous; Live 8 appearances, backing music of "Match Of The Day", and 3 releases for that "Riot" single in total! Overexposed, overhyped, we were getting a little sick of Kaiser Chiefs, so we set off at 4.30 with slight trepidation, accentuated by Rach's loathing for "big gigs".
A good run saw us parking at 6.30 and into this cavernous venue - which we'd last visited to take Evan to see Monster Trucks! - early doors to watch it fill up. Bitched about all the gig virgins to pass the time before Polysics joined us at 7.30. They were horrible - a car crash of all the worst bits of Shonen Knife, Kraftwerk and Devo, only without any tunes. The less said the better...
Main support, former Blur man Graham Coxon, was a much different proposition. He thrashed wildly like it was 1977 all over again, with short, snappy New Wave punky pop soundbites recalling the likes of the Buzzcocks, Jilted John and even the Shapes (I was half expecting a "Batman At The Launderette" cover!). Quite hilariously low-key and self-effacing too - he greeted one applause with "thank you, you seem nice!"
By now the sell-out crowd was in a party mood, with Mexican waves going around the seats. The PA played XTC's "Helicopter Helicopter", then got turned up for a sing-along rendition of the Housemartins' classic "Caravan Of Love". Nice!
Lights out dead on 9.30, then after a suitable pregnant pause, the keyboard intro to "Every Day I Love You Less And Less" emerged from behind the red curtain encompassing the stage. This parted to reveal the band, already on and in full flow, to a frenzied reception. A great entrance, allaying our fears and precipitating a great show. Vocalist Ricky Wilson was in energetic form, hurtling around the stage like a demented rabbit, urging and exhorting the crowd to sing along or go nuts, not that they needed much invitation. The sound was spot-on, and their XTC-influenced Britpop was showcased to perfection, with energy and dynamism. "La La La La La", Rach's favourite, recalling the Wonderstuff's "Poison", was an early highlight, then after a few new numbers (including a sure-fire hit in newie "When The Heat Dies Down") the set really hit its stride with "Modern Way". It suddenly struck me that this band are writing the kids' anthems for today and that the Chiefs, not Franz or Bloc Party or the flippin' awful Futureheads, will be the Blur of this current clutch of New Wavey style pop bands, the ones with sticking power. Listening to "Modern Way" tonight was like listening to "Common People", Pulp's timeless anthem and manifesto.
A frantic "I Predict A Riot" was 3/4 in, strident and mesmerising, after which the ebullient Ricky appeared standing on the mixing desk in the middle of the floor, a decidedly Bono-esque move, singing "Caroline Yes". All in all, the set was one hour plus 15 minutes of encores, very short for an arena show, but by then they'd done the whole album, half a dozen newies, and we were on our way halfway through closer "Oh My God" to avoid the traffic. Home for 12.15, glad we made the effort, and with faith maybe renewed a little in Kaiser Chiefs!