Most bands choose a small-scale venue to warm up for a massive festival headline slot. Not Kasabian, who played to 50,000 fans at a giant Leicester homecoming show on Saturday (June 21) as their Glastonbury dress rehearsal. Taking place at the city’s Victoria Park, the group played a career-spanning set, featuring at least three songs from each of their five albums.
Before the band appeared on stage, a bright pink backdrop, the same colour as the artwork from new album ’48:13′, displayed a countdown clock. When 10 seconds remained, the crowd enthusiastically counted down before white sheets dropped all around the stage.
The band – Tom Meighan, Serge Pizzorno, Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews plus two backing singers and other assorted musicians – walked on stage and quickly began playing ’48:13′ opener ‘Bumblebee’, followed by ‘Shoot The Runner’ from their 2006’s second album ‘Empire’ and ‘Underdog’, from 2009’s third album ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’.
“How’s your day been?” asked Meighan in one of many chats about the crowd’s wellbeing. “Good? Glad to hear it. Now put your hands toward the sky.” The backdrop was ever-changing, with various slogans – ‘bumblebee’, ‘coal’ and ’20/20′ among them – and string and brass sections and backing singers joining in for numerous songs in the 20-track set.
As for the songs played, it was largely the same as those performed at their WarChild Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig earlier in the week, although the swapped ‘Where Did All The Love Go?’, criticised by some that night for its slow pace, for the far more upbeat ‘West Ryder…’ track ‘Fast Fuse’.
‘Processed Beats’ began with the intro from House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’, and finished with Pizzorno repeatedly singing “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the edge” from Grandmaster Flash classic ‘The Message’, while Meighan left the stage after a brief run through ‘The Doberman’, letting the guitarist take over on lead vocals for ‘West Ryder…’ track ‘Take Aim’.
Speaking to NME before the gig, Pizzorno said: “We’ve been planning to play Victoria Park for years. It’s amazing that we’re taking over a whole city, and then bringing everyone from all over the world to Leicester and showing them where we’re from.”
Chants of ‘Leicester’ rang out throughout the evening, with the band expressing love for their hometown at every opportunity. Pizzorno wore a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Les-tah’. Before ‘Fire’, which closed the main set, Meighan once again thanked fans in the city, saying: “We started this band in 1997, me, Serge and Chris, and now we’re here and playing Glastonbury next week. Thank you.”
The encore was perhaps the most successful section, the band returning to the stage with ‘Switchblade Smiles’ from ‘Velociraptor!’ and ‘Vlad The Impaler’ from ‘West Ryder…’ before Meighan stopped to thank the crowd once again. “10 years ago we were playing shitholes,” he said, “and here we are now with you lot.”
As he spoke, the band struck up their cover of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, which merged into huge closer ‘L.S.F’ after a couple of minutes. As the song finished, guitarist Pizzorno whipped off his shirt and dived into the crowd, Meighan carried on singing without the band. “So thanks Leicester. You’ve made my fucking year,” said guitarist Chris Edwards.