Leicester blows its own trumpet as the new empire lands in the new home of lad-rock
Kasabian haven’t exactly been averse to sharing their stages with elder musical statesman in recent months – and before this gig’s even begun, it’s clear tonight is no different. But hang on a minute, the old man shuffling onstage is not Noel Gallagher. In fact, it looks more like Bruce Forsyth – playing the bugle. As the little fella blasts out the ‘Posthorn Gallop’ – the tune played before home games by Kasabian’s beloved Leicester City FC – the throng explode into emphatic testosterone-charged chants of “Who are we? Blue Army!” Y’see, it’s only Leicester’s favourite horn-honking pensioner Henry Shipley.
Sticking with the football theme, there’s a real Roy Of The Rovers moment seconds later, when singer Tom Meighan takes to the stage decked out in a classic Leicester City jersey. Unsurprisingly, the crowd greet him with a roar reserved only for returning Cup Final winners. And who are we to argue, after a champagne-soaked year that’s seen them hit Number One with second album ‘Empire’ and confirm their place at indie’s very top table? Tonight, it’s impossible not to get swept along by the atmosphere, as the band are on devilish, devastating form. “It’s fucking good to be back in Leicester,” announces Tom after brooding instrumental opener and B-side ‘Stay Away From The Brown Acid (Part 1)’. “You’ve been with us from the beginning. You’ve watched us grow since we were 17, man. It means a lot.” Pleasantries over, it’s straight on with the hits – and only two songs in thundering glam-rock stomper ‘Shoot The Runner’ is dispatched with all the aplomb of a well-taken penalty kick.
On this, the opening night of their debut arena tour, Leicester’s likely lads sound totally and utterly monumental in their newly expansive setting – like the London Philharmonic Orchestra taken hostage by Primal Scream. Whereas the Kasabian of two years ago were purveyors of relentless electro-noise terrorism, this time round, on songs such as ‘Seek & Destroy’ and ‘The Doberman’, the band are a more focused beast, firing controlled musical missiles. Even the older songs sound positively super-sized, with the terrace chants of ‘Club Foot’ and ‘Reason Is Treason’ reverberating around the venue, swelled by the roars of thousands.
These days, when they feel like easing up on the lad-rock posturing to, y’know, emote for a moment, they’ve got Serge’s acoustic lament ‘British Legion’ to slow the pace. And tonight, left with the stage to himself, he pulls it off in style. Tom, meanwhile, positively revels in his new surroundings. Strutting across the stage like a peacock fired up to the nads on Grade A brain-dust, he’s pulling his best coked-up-conductor moves by the time ‘Empire’ swings round, orchestrating the musical destruction exploding around his ears.
Ultimately, though, the most impressive thing about tonight is that they still seem like a band in transition. After stratospheric set closer ‘LSF’ the band link arms, take a bow and march off, destined for bigger stages, bigger nights, and even bigger tunes. Clearly, Kasabian and their Leicester legion will march on, sacking stadium after stadium as they expand their ‘Empire’ – the world doesn’t stand a chance.