Review: Kasabian, Rock City

Tom Meighan and Sergio Pizzorno – the two central figures in Kasabian – have recently been vehemently dispelling the common perception that Kasabian are just a simple ‘lad-rock’ band, and stipulating that their music is much, much more than a soundtrack to a pub full of beered up Stone Island-clad football fans on a Saturday night.

And while they cannot refute their place in such a genre entirely due to their (possibly oblivious) challenging for their peers Oasis’s title of Biggest Band In Britain, a band whose very existence stems from lad-rock DNA, they have, at least, now expanded their aural out-goings with a wonderfully deranged and psychedelic third album.

But Kasabian’s fan base remains unequivocally entrenched in British lad culture. The crowd is a heaving pit of boiling testosterone; a sea of sweat, blood, clenched fists and air-bound beer, forcing the severely outnumbered female contingent to scarper in fear of a size 10 boot to the side of their heads.

Further evidence of their laddish appeal emerges should you collate a bunch of adjectives to describe their output. Cocksure, strident, confident, ballsy…they all constitute the very genetics of lad-rock. But now, nailed onto this gallant sound, is a nascent psychedelic haze which expands their sonic make-up further still, and transcends far beyond the realms of a genre as one-dimensional as lad-rock.

New album West Ryder Lunatic Asylum has pushed their own boundaries with its hippy, dippy vibe. And this gig – a warm-up for their Glastonbury stint at the weekend – is a disparate cavalcade of genre-defying, vibe-altering rock ‘n’ roll.

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The mangled-krautrock grooves of Underdog is up first, flexing its huge muscles and mimicking plate tectonics grinding together, with the resultant flow of molten rock being the equally muscular Shoot The Runner. They’re both typical Kasabian rabble-rousers and even by this early stage sweat is practically dripping from the walls.

But it’s Fire that heralds a change in mood slighty, hazily drifting through a verse resembling The Doors at their finest before veering along a glam-stomp trajectory, its zenith being the chant-friendly chorus which gets bellowed so enthusiastically it may well be heard by everyone within a 12-mile radius.

The Kinksian blissed-out ambiance of Thick as Thieves and Where Did All The Love Go? continue the psychedelia, the latter turning from a Sergio-sung strut into a mystical drum and bass, jazz-fondling freak-out, while Take Aim starts like a Syd Barrett skulk before subverting the mystics and showing its mettle.

The gig showcases just exactly what Glastonbury can expect: a frothing, electrical storm of hit upon hit.

Tom prowls the stage like an agitated celestial guardian, with his Rachael-out-of-Friends hairdo lapping over his sweaty brow. His facial expressions and mannerisms switch from non-plussed to animated; God-fearing to awestruck; while his compadre Sergio oozes sex appeal with his perfect facial fuzz and customary headband, and is still the sexiest man in indie. No contest. Both remain laconic throughout, allowing their music to connect with their audience.

Vlad the Impaler heralds the start of the encore; a snarling, savage beast which is fast becoming a fan favourite. Then, suddenly, the incongruous sound of Candi Staton’s You’ve Got the Love is forged by the band, or at least The Source’s influential 1991 clubland classic version. But before you can say “where’s my glow stick?”, it neatly merges into L.S.F. and becomes the overwhelming highlight.

Tom waves his mic over the crowd who sing back its “aagh aagh aagh, la la da da daa, la la da da daa” refrain right back at him like the best terrace chant ever. It’s a monumental closer, and that refrain is drunkenly bellowed around Nottingham’s streets as the masses filter out of the venue.

Earlier in the set Tom defiantly announced “Rock City, that is empire!”, after Empire’s gargantuan sonic boom had pummeled Nottingham into the ground. But you know what? Kasabian are currently emperors of the kingdom of rock n roll; supreme powers governing British music. Just don’t mention ‘lad-rock’…they’ll have you for treason.

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