Hard to believe, but it’s nearly fifteen years since the great northern indie explosion that saw the Kaiser Chiefs and the Arctic Monkeys burst onto the scene together. For many of us the two bands were inextricably linked. I first heard them both on a John Peel BBC World Service show, played consecutively. I remember thinking both were great, although I slightly preferred the Kaisers. who seemed a touch edgier. It’s probably fair to say that in the intervening time the Arctics have succeeded in retaining more indie cred, but in terms of popularity, celebrity talent judge Ricky Wilson and the Kaisers are streets ahead.
Although a long time without a major hit, they’re a band who take a positive pride in having a wide appeal and they were the perfect choice to provide the evening entertainment for a day of racing and music at Market Rasen Racecourse on Saturday 19th of August, under the auspices of the Jockey Club Live.
Having made the decision to stay most definitely pop, the band recruited Brian Higgins, best known as writer and producer for the likes of The Sugababes, Girls Aloud and Little Mix, for their most recent album, 2016’s Stay Together (QRO review). It didn’t go down that great with the artier end of the music journalism college, but from where I sit it sounded pretty good – catchy, hook filled and still indie enough that the kids don’t roll their eyes when their parents play it on the school run.
On the night “Parachute” and “Hole In My Soul” from the new record were among the highlights of a set that mixed up the classics like “Ruby”, “Oh My God I Can’t Believe It” and “I Predict a Riot” with some of the band’s less well known material. Safe to say they all went down a storm with a crowd who weren’t concerned about the cold breeze blowing in from the frozen wastes of the Lincolnshire Wolds, so long as there was singing and dancing to be done and Wilson was orchestrating things from the stage.
He’s an extraordinary force of nature. The nearest I can recall would be videos of a young Bruce Springsteen chucking himself around the stage, dancing swivel hipped on Roy Bittan’s piano, sliding on his knees to the feet of the big man.
By the end of the set there was scarcely a thing or a person on the stage that Wilson hasn’t climbed on, danced with, jumped off, jumped over or thrown up in the air. There are shades of the game show host in his urgent running up and down the stage trying to get a Mexican wave going among the naturally reserved Market Rasenites (“Even fucking Ascot was better than this,” he yelled in desperation), and drummer Vijay Mistry looked just slightly worried as Wilson threatened to lose his balance while perched on the drum kit.
In the end nobody is hurt, although there are probably some sore throats and feet in the morning, but it was a fine old night and I shall look forward to seeing the Kaisers again soon at Bingley Music Live (QRO preview).