Kasabian – Sheffield O2 Academy, Sat 4 June
For a band who could easily sell out arenas and stadiums, Kasabian raised a few eyebrows when they announced their only non-festival appearances this summer would be four intimate warm-up shows. Those raised eyebrows inverted into frowns of frustration for most of Kasabian’s fans as the predicted scramble for tickets left a lot either empty handed or having to pay through the nose on second-hand ticket websites.
Their decision to keep these warm-up shows on the intimate side was probably so they could try out their new songs in a tighter and safer environment than the unforgiving, cathedral-like open spaces of arenas – so we’ll get to them first. Of the two they debuted tonight, ‘Switchblade Smile’ sounds the most promising – boasting a pulsating drum beat and fractured vocal and guitar lines, it’s reminiscent of ‘Empire’ and is sure to rival that song as a live favourite over the summer. ‘Velociraptor’, meanwhile, doesn’t sound as instantly ‘massive’ as ‘Switchblade Smile’, but it’s relentless tempo provides a great platform for Tom Meighan’s energetic and always enjoyable front-man posturing.
The rest of the set was the predictable run-through of Kasabian’s greatest hits and biggest crowd-pleasers. ‘Club Foot’, ‘Underdog’, ‘Empire’ and ‘The Doberman’ all sounded like the polished electro-rock stormers we’ve come to expect – reducing the packed crowd into a sweaty mess of bouncing limbs in the process. The band threw a bit of a curveball by following a typically monstrous rendition of ‘Fast Fuse’ with a Pulp Fiction breakdown, which segued nicely into the always memorable ‘Vlad The Impaler’. They repeated the trick during the encore, with Serge leading the band through a cover of ‘I Feel Love’ after a surprisingly flat ‘Stuntman’.
The set finished with a resounding ‘LSF’, which led to the now traditional mass sing-along as the band departed the stage and lasted until they returned for the encore. This began with ‘Switchblade Smile’ and ended with ‘Fire’ – which prompted another mass sing-along which spilled out onto the streets of Sheffield as the sweaty and satisfied crowd made their way home.
Although it was a little disappointing that the set didn’t contain a few more new songs, you can understand why. Kasabian have now amassed an electrifying set-list of songs that put most of their contemporaries to shame – which means they can slowly incorporate and fine-tune a few new songs without sacrificing their fans’ enjoyment of the show. After all, they don’t go through the expense and stress of getting tickets to hear a load of songs they can’t sing-along to!