- 24 Feb 20
The Kaiser Chiefs and Razorlight at the 3Arena together? Reading the bill of last night's gig, one would be forgiven for thinking they'd Marty McFlyed back to 2006. That said, while the bands' brand of indie rock may not be setting the singles charts ablaze today the way it did in the mid-noughties, the two acts reminded audiences yesterday evening why they once sat atop the UK Top 40.
However, a star of tomorrow did get the chance to shine - Dublin’s own Somebody's Child aka 23-year-old Cian Godfrey. Having already impressed Hot Press earlier this month with a headline gig at The Grand Social, he is in equally fine form in the larger 3Arena opening for the lovable lads from Leeds. While he’s only released a handful of tracks, tunes like ‘Distance’, ‘Jungle’ and latest single ‘Love That Sound’ feel like stadium anthems. To varying degrees, they blend Godfrey’s raspy soulful voice, rocking guitars and massive sounding pop melodies. His debut EP will drop in April. It should be something special.
From newcomers to legends (at least to a younger generation like myself who grew up when the NME-fuelled mid-2000’s UK guitar scene was the rage), Razorlight take to the stage for a hit laden lengthy set. While frontman Johnny Borrell and guitarist Björn Ågren are the only remaining members from the glory days of their charmingly scrappy 2004 debut record Up All Night, songs like ‘Golden Touch’, ‘Rip it Up’, ‘Somewhere Else’, ‘Stumble and Fall’ and ‘Vice’ feel as fresh as ever, being greeted with audible approval by the crowd as their opening bars are played.
Audiences go predictably wild too for the London band’s closer, their 2006 number one single ‘America’. People can say what they like about the song, but hearing it bellowed back at Borrell and co by thousands suggests it has maintained much of its power. This isn’t to say Razorlight coasted on past classics last night. The doo wop chorus of ‘Carry Yourself’ – taken from their 2018 record Olympus Sleeping – is a highlight. Another is Borrell channelling his inner Jim Morrison for an exciting extended rendition of Up All Night album track ‘In the City’, the band juxtaposing a quieter slower pace in parts with sudden bursts of noise and speed in a way that’s thrilling to watch.
The real stars of the evening are the Kaiser Chiefs though, with the Leeds lads putting on a spectacle worthy of an arena. As if it’s theatre, the show is kicked into action with a curtain pull revealing the band to be standing on the roof of a replica mock-up diner to the one that adorns the front cover of their last record – 2019’s Duck. From here, they open their set with the infectious catchy pop rock anthems ‘People Know How to Love One Another’ and ‘Golden Oldies’.
Frontman Ricky Wilson and co maintain momentum for the most part through a well curated setlist blending the prime cuts from Duck with the songs that made the band famous. ‘Na Na Na Na Naa’ is a tune designed to get people singing and grooving along and succeeds while ‘Everything is Average Nowadays’ is anything but average in the flesh, its driving guitars feeling pacey and energetic.
Even when a slower track threatens to let the air out of the balloon – and the Take That-esque pop ballad ‘Parachute’ certainly does – Wilson’s showmanship keeps proceedings on course. The frontman never misses a beat to spice things up – whether that be jumping into the crowd and ascending to a make shift stage at the back of the arena, pulling fans onto said podium with him or having more confetti rain down than I’ve ever seen at a gig. This is the last date of their UK and Ireland tour. It seems they were left with a surplus of confetti, deciding to deploy it all on their final night.
As they near the end, they recapture the high energy of their opening tracks thanks to the perfect three song combo ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’, their number one hit ‘Ruby’ and ‘The Modern Way’, as well as the one-two punch of ‘Never Miss a Beat’ and ‘I Predict a Riot’. This is before closing after an encore with their debut single ‘Oh My God’, complete with an extended jazzy freak-out denouement.
While their style of music may not be as on trend as it once was, the Kaiser Chiefs’ ability to put on a great show will keep them filling arenas for years to come.
Feature image by Peter O'Hanlon.