For a fledgling indie band still relatively unknown in their own country, the idea of playing a festival in Russia must be scarier than, say, staring Alan McGee in the eye prior to that first deal-securing head-bob. In Moscow, moustachioed babushkas pawn their grandchildren outside metro stations because their pensions won’t cover the cost of upper-lip electrolysis, while jackbooted police go on nightly vodka-fuelled tramp-thumping benders with their Soviet-era cudgels. Not an easy place to win over then, but Leeds’ Kaiser Chiefs did it last July – and they’ve been treating a series of cities to their ‘particular brand of energetic indie’ ever since.
They’re a band of genuine characters. There’s vocalist Ricky Wilson, who looks like Luke Skywalker played by a bisexual TopMan model. There’s zoot-suited Lurch-alike guitarist Andrew White. And there’s keyboardist Peanut, possibly so-called because he resembles a tragic GM experiment to cross-pollinate said nut with Pete Doherty. But the music these misfits makes is something else. Cowbells, skanking, threatening men in tracksuits – it’s all here. Whereas Franz are ultimately alien to most of their fans – quipping in German and quoting Bulgakov – the Kaisers run the gamut of British life to the extent that there might be nothing left for The Ordinary Boys. Forthcoming single ‘I Predict A Riot’ lays it all out, sounding like The Specials getting chased Scooby Doo-style by marauding casuals, while serial skanker Ricky gibbers: “Watching the people get lairy/It’s not very pretty I tell thee”. If they’re not cresting the charts in six months’ time, we will gladly eat our laptops.
What a lovely few months it’s been for The Ordinary Boys. From playing second fiddle to Biffy Clyro on the toilet circuit to hugs with Morrissey, these Boys are on the make. Piloted by Preston’s little-boy-lost-on-the-estate good looks, they’re on the boundary of achieving credible crossover success, that rare feat not seen since Liam first squinted into the TOTP studio lights and whispered, “Fookin’ hell.” Any doubters should be directed towards tonight’s capacity crowd. The Ordinary Army are a diverse lot: Burberry-swaddled thuglings pass joints to retired bovver boys, retired bovver boys pass joints to excitable indie pixies, and so on.
But with the departure of the Kaisers, it’s the chavs who arrive en masse. No sooner can they spark up a stale B&H than The Ordinary Boys bolt onstage and rush into a terribly butch ‘Maybe Someday’, followed by B-side ‘Nip It In The Bud’, which is basically Elvis Costello but with big, swinging, jewel-encrusted glam gonads. But midway through the set, something happens. It’s called ‘(Little) Bubble’. Holy shit! Where did this low-slung, bass-driven doo-wop come from?
From there it’s a mad skank-down to The Specials’ ‘Little Bitch’, the PA drips honey during ‘Seaside’, confetti bursts for a rousing ‘Talk Talk Talk’, and a hundred Edinburghers’ lives are quietly turned around. If Babyshambles break hearts with their no-shows, the Boys are here to pick up the pieces. Looks like they always will be, too.