thu 20/06/2024

Kasabian, Brixton Academy | reviews, news & interviews

Kasabian, Brixton Academy

Kasabian, Brixton Academy

Brixton goes bonkers for one of Britain's biggest bands

Working the crowd into a lather of excitement: Kasabian, with singer Tom Meighan second from left

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an audience go quite as bonkers as this one.

Kasabian were performing a London show as a warm-up for their appearances at this weekend’s V Festival, and singer Tom Meighan was working the crowd into a lather of excitement: standing with his legs apart, staring into the middle distance and flicking his outstretched palms in a “Come on!” gesture; leading the community singing of big boisterous tunes such as "Club Foot", "Fire" and "Where Did All the Love Go?" (the last two from 2009’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album); imploring the fans to wave their arms from side to side and clap their hands; and simply shouting, repeatedly, “Brixton Academy! Where are you?” Brixton Academy lapped it up, vociferously and boisterously.

But there was a moment towards the end of the show when even I, a veteran gig-goer of four decades’ standing, was taken aback by the tumult: when it came to the big moment in "Lost Souls Forever", the bit when the chorus comes crashing in, there was pandemonium, a frenzy of flailing limbs, a cacophony of shouty singing. The band on stage hadn’t actually been that loud, but this, this was deafening.

I’m not a huge fan of Kasabian, but it was hard not to warm to them at this point, impossible not to be sucked into their maelstrom. And I was standing almost at the back, so lord knows what it was like in the moshy bit. They will go down a storm at V; their big singalong choruses and their propulsive electro-flavoured beats are just the ticket for an event that focuses on the mainstream of popular music rather than its tributaries.

Even so, I have to say that there were times in the 90-odd minutes leading up to the big finale when I got a bit bored: it doesn’t say much for the band that I sometimes found myself thinking of someone else’s music while they were blustering and blazing away on stage. Their blend of indie-rock and more groove-based music is too one-dimensional for my taste; there’s no depth to it, nothing going on beneath the surface; the rhythms lack torque. And Meighan’s voice is a thin whiney thing; it’s like hearing Liam Gallagher played through a small transistor radio. After a while, it starts to wear. Also, things weren’t helped by the quality of the sound: towards the end there was a brass section and a trio of backing singers on stage with the band (who themselves were performing as a six-piece), but almost nothing of them could be heard. It was just a mess of undinstinguishable noise, with Meighan’s voice floating over the top like a model aeroplane.

But still, it’s a formula that’s found favour. In the course of three albums, and having gone through various line-up changes, these Leicestershire lads have established themselves as one of the UK’s leading acts, winning umpteen awards and packing arenas with their youngish following (a following which, on the evidence of this show, contains a stronger female element than I expected, given the blokiness of their music).

What more can I say? They’re not doing anything that’s musically remarkable. They’re not symptomatic of a fascinating social phenomenon. They’re just a band with a plan, and at Brixton it was a plan that was executed immaculately, the noise levels creeping up, the excitement rising incrementally with each song, Meighan becoming more and more animated, the lights pulsing and swirling, the choruses coming thick and fast, culminating in the big one.

Watch Kasabian's "Fire" video on YouTube:

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