Kaiser Chiefs, Roseland Ballroom, New York, Thursday April 12
NME takes the Angry Mob stateside and Ricky crowdsurfs straight to the VIPs
Somewhere in New Jersey, way over on the other side of the Hudson, people are wondering what the hell sort of emergency service has a siren like thazt. A kind of high-pitched singalong sound that goes ‘Na-na-na-na-NAAAH!’ And man, it’s so goddamn loud.
Four shows into the NME Presents… US assault and the Kaiser buzz is deafening. Over in Manhattan, Roseland Ballroom is at capacity, stuffed with over 3,000 fans – some of whom have waited since noon to gain front-row positions. Although a large room by most bands’ standards, it’s a Stones-in-the-Barfly-type show for an outfit who are now used to performing for crowds 10 times the size back home. But this is a reconnaissance mission, an early scouting trip to search and destroy – the Angry Mob abroad looking for converts. Since the tour kicked off in Philadelphia it’s been a whirlwind week of 5am starts, instore gigs and playing Ray Charles records to Manhattan’s cognescenti (and, erm, Moby) at art galleries – all in the name of promotion. The ads for ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’ are plastered across every surface in America right now, bar the national flag itself (copyright was a bit tight on that one, apparently). Failure is not an option.
However, America is a notoriously hard nut to crack. Back home, Kaiser Chiefs shows sell out within minutes, but over here they do things differently. You have to work to impress this lot – they won’t even buy the record until they’ve seen you deliver the goods live. But at Roseland tonight, there’s a distinct feeling that this audience has the album and bought the T-shirt. And they’re leaping about like indie salmon, waving St George flags and buying three pints at a time. Or at least the sizeable British contingent is, some of whom have reputably flown over to follow the boys on their US crusade.
Of course the not-so-secret weapon in the Kaiser arsenal is Ricky Wilson – one of those performers who actually likes to perform – as if simultaneously possessed by the transatlantic spirits of Buster Keaton and Eric Morecambe. After opener ‘Saturday Night’ he’s straight into his mission to turn Manhattan into a mile-wide moshpit, hammering out orders (“Louder! More! Come on!”) like a coked-up Redcoat in front of a hundred hungover pensioners. They oblige, and it looks like a closing down sale scrum at Primark as 3,000 people pitch-perfectly join in on ‘Born To Be A Dancer’. Despite themselves, grown men are crowd surfing, previously indifferent Noo Yoikers chant and every last person at Roseland Ballroom is grinning like Hadouken! on a trolley dash round Glowsticks ‘R’ Us.
They’ve only got 15 songs for us, but it feels like every one is a single, with younger tracks ‘Thank You Very Much’ and the drag-racing blast of ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays’ garnering practically the same reception as tried-and-tested anthems like ‘Every Day I Love You Less And Less’. Meanwhile, ‘I Predict A Riot’ is almost a self-fufilling prophecy. Throwing himself face-first into the throng, Wilson guides his crowdsurf to an elevated platform in the crowd where, pulling himself up, he finishes the song under a single spotlight surrounded by supposedly Very Important People sipping G&Ts at a handful of tables. It’s as if he’s been teleported to a tiny jazz club in SoHo and it’s surreal as hell.
As even those who thought they’d bought themselves out of the moshpit into safety join the cheapseat hardcore, NYC collapses to the KC empire. The Kaiser Invasion is underway – sound the sirens.