“GLASTONBUUUREEEEGHHH! You’re empire!” Tom Meighan is stood with his arms spread wide, addressing the Worthy Farm crowd midway through the Leicester group’s Glastonbury closing set. He’s scruffily stubbled, wearing a white blazer and dicky bow with skinny jeans and trainers like a waiter in a swanky French bistro, albeit one who’d piss in your carrot soup and call you something unsavoury under his breath as you tip him. It’s a pretty decent metaphor for the frontman and his band: though they very firmly now exist in British music’s fancy upper echelons, a fact confirmed by this Glastonbury top billing, Kasabian have still got a deliciously real, no-nonsense underbite. They prove as much tonight: rattling through a career-spanning set with minimal crowd banter, they take on Glastonbury on their own terms. And for the most part, they pull it off with aplomb. Here’s five ways Tom, Serge and co proved themselves worthy – or, in Kasabian vernacular, “worth-eh” – of their top billing, as Worthy Farm vacates for another year…
‘Treat’ sparks a laser-accompanied rave-up
Is the future of Kasabian as a dance act? The pulsating club-cultured magic of ‘Treat’, and more to the point its storming reaction from the Pyramid Stage crowd, suggests that might be the best direction for the band to go whenever they eventually turn their attention to ’48:13”s follow-up. As it climaxes in a hail of lasers, it’s not hard to imagine this as the most rewarding future for the Tom, Serge and co.
‘Stevie’ shows them at their grandest
Aided by an all-female string section dressed in skeleton suits, ‘Stevie’ is an obvious highlight tonight, glimpsing the same sort of profound, orchestral feel that made the Verve such brilliant festival-mainstays in the late ’90s. Before the festival, Tom and Serge talked up ’48:13′ as an album written for big occasions like tonight’s: ‘Stevie’ is one of the songs which fits that billing, and on this big stage, totally convinces. The feeling, as its thundering chorus rings out for the final time in a blaze of staccatto strings and sultry, strutting indie guitar, is this is a band that could rock history’s best ever Bond theme, given the chance.
All the right tributes
During their encore, the band were joined by comedian Noel Fielding, who danced around as Vlad The Impaler in a cape as Meighan adjusted the lyrics of 2009 smash ‘Vlad The Impaler’ to reference the soul singer Bobby Womack, who passed away earlier in the weekend. “Bobby Womack see you on the other side,” he sang, winning big cheers from the crowd. A smart, subtle tribute, it was a reflective moment amidst a bombast of spectacle.
Choice covers revving the crowd
Just as the set starting to show signs of leveling-out, a slow-burning, guitar-propelled cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ led a stirring singalong. Later, striding back on stage for their encore, the band burst into a rendition of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’ that segued into ‘LSF’. While it did highlight Kasabian’s own lack of a slow, singalong gem, the track managed to unite the crowd in a way seldom seen this weekend. That wasn’t the least of it – elsewhere in their set, they sampled Kanye West (‘Shoot The Runner’) and worked in Grandmaster Flash’s ‘The Message’ to ‘Processed Beats’. Exactly the kind of crowd-pleasing a headline slot at Britain’s biggest festival demands.
“The troops are on fireeeyaaaaaah!”
For all the interstellar, genre-straddling stardust of their recent work, a closing rendition of the anthemic ‘LSF’ shows the band’s best work remains some of their earliest. “Ten years ago we opened The Other Stage – we’d been up all night of course,” Tom revealed to the crowd before launching into the track. “Seriously, thank you for this.” No, thank you, Kasabian. Stepping up to a gig at big as this? They made it look Eez-eh. Worthy Farm, see you in a year’s time…