Kaiser Chiefs announced blockbuster February shows in London (O2 Arena) and Leeds (First Direct Arena) in 2015. The dates will be a far cry from their beginnings playing small, sweaty matchbox venues under the name Parva. They released one album, ‘22’, before rebranding themselves after South African Leeds United footballer Lucas Radebe’s hometown team, Kaizer Chiefs.
Under their new alias, it wasn’t long the Yorkshire crew were adorning the front of NME. “At the moment we don’t get any time off, but we’re not complaining – we’ve had the last 20 years off,” singer Ricky Wilson laughed as the world began to wake up to the Kaisers’ charisma.
En route to winning the prestigious Phillip Hall Radar Award at the 2004 NME Awards, Kaiser Chiefs joined The Killers, The Futureheads and Bloc Party on our NME Awards Tour. How’s that for a classic NME Awards Tour lineup?
Helped along by blockbuster singles ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘Oh My God’, their debut album ‘Employment’, released on March 7 2005, landed at number 3 in the UK Album Charts, eventually going five times platinum and becoming the fourth best-selling album of that year in Britain.
Second album syndrome? Pah. The Leeds band went from strength to strength on ‘Employment’ follow-up ‘Yours Truly Angry Mob’, which went to Number 1 in the UK Album Chart, propelled by anthemic lead single ‘Ruby’ – their first Number 1 single.
Two sold out shows at London’s Earls Court followed, marking the group’s new world-beater status. It was their sell-out date at Elland Road, home of their beloved Leeds United, on May 24 2008 that truly confirmed them as one of Britain’s biggest bands, playing an epic 19 song set to 37,000 fans.
A year later, the group played their first ever arena tour, timed around the February 2009 release of third album ‘Off With Their Heads’. Featuring skewering Britpop guitars and typically deadpan witticisms (including ‘Never Miss A Beat’’s “what do you want for tea?/I want crisps”), the Mark Ronson produced effort hit Number 2 in the UK Album Chart.
Their next record saw the Kaisers continue to mix things up: 2011’s ‘The Future Is Medieval’ was the world’s first create-your-own album, with fans able to pick their own tracklist from a choice of 23 songs. Production from David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti lent a grandeur to the album’s massive Who-chasing choruses.
In 2012, founding member and key songwriter Nick Hodgson announced his departure from the group, sparking speculation the Kaisers might soon call it quits. Instead, the remaining members rallied impressively to write 2013’s ‘Education, Education, Education And War’, landing another UK Album Chart Number 1.
In 2014, the group breached the mainstream in new ways: Ricky Wilson joined BBC talent show The Voice as a judge, after a stint in musical The War of the Worlds. It was a move few saw coming – but then again, that’s the Kaisers for you, unpredictable to the very last.
O2 Priority Tickets for Kaiser Chiefs’ UK shows will be available from 9am on Wednesday 23 April. Get Priority tickets to thousands of gigs up to 48 hours before general release, on O 2– text TICKETS to 2020.