Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Kasabian @ House Of Blues

Kasabian @ House Of Blues, Boston, MA - March 27, 2012
Review: Dave Bolton

It must be really odd for some British bands when they come to tour the USA. In the Mother Country, they are genuine superstars playing huge venues and filling the headline festival spot on a regular basis. Band members appear on TV, get to drive cars around the Top Gear test-track and get photographed falling drunk out of numerous Awards Ceremonies while clutching golden proof of their popularity.
Every now and again, these bands talk about “breaking America”. They want to follow in the footsteps of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Susan Boyle [Hahahaha - Ed.]. They announce a series of dates, tickets are eagerly snapped up by the ex-pats who have actually heard of them and then they perform in front of a small crowd in mid-size venues.

On Tuesday night in Boston, Kasabian continued with their latest attempt to get America interested in their rock/dance hybrid that has seen them replace Oasis as the band that “lads” like to listen to. The predictable break-up of Noel Gallagher’s backing band left a void in the hearts of some music fans in the UK, a space that Kasabian have more than filled since their first LP was released in 2004.
Having been confirmed as the headliners for the Reading/Leeds Festivals in England in August, Kasabian are touring their fourth LP, Velociraptor! (no idea why it has an exclamation mark, presume it is to emphasize what you say when you find yourself trapped on a island that was intended to be a theme park).

Bounding on stage in front of 800 die-hard fans, the majority of whom were not born on this side of the pond, the band moved smoothly and quickly into their groove. "Days Are Forgotten" is an instant hit, lead singer Tom Meighan (sporting a pair of unnecessary sun-glances and a scruffy denim jacket) bouncing around and striking as many rock-star poses as possible.

In the center of the stage, Sergio Pizzorno concentrates on his own vibe. Obviously more accustomed to bigger venues, he manages to merge the psychedelic and space rock elements of their songs into a series of riffs and beats that get even hardened non-dancers to shuffle their feet with some sort of rhythm.

Songs from the new album and their previous release (West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum) dominate proceedings. Of the seventeen tracks played at the House of Blues, eleven are from the last two LPs with the highlights being the title track from ‘Raptor!, "Thick As Thieves" (which included elements of The Doors), an excellent "Underdog," a seriously skuzzy "Vlad the Impaler" and the closing beauty of Fire.

They treat us to some tracks from Kasabian and Empire. The glorious dance beat of "Club Foot" (which I will always associate with driving into Las Vegas for some reason), the thumping power of "Shoot the Runner" and the deceptive simplicity of "L.S.F." are all greeted like old friends.

For someone who ventured away from his punk and metal leanings to investigate the Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and (to an lesser extent) Blur, Kasabian are an interesting hybrid of so many different styles that they can sometimes confuse the casual listener. To me, they are the Classic Rock band mining the glam period for inspiration while upping the tempo and dropping the beat; all I know is that they push a lot of my musical buttons.

It helps that they look like a rock band, the bastard offspring of an unholy alliance between Ronnie Wood and Russell Brand. They acknowledge their musical heritage but take the audience somewhere different, something that Oasis often struggled to achieve.

In England, Kasabian play in front of thousands. In America their appeal is slightly more selective and (selfishly) I hope that they stay at this level because seeing them in a small venue is very enjoyable. Space-rock has always been about the band communing with the audience and this is easier to achieve when you standing a short distance from the crowd.

Hacienda, who opened the night, are another band weaned from the teat of classic rock. Their name suggested some sort of Factory Records tribute band but this was not to be the case. Playing a series of blues riffs and Southern rock, they entertained without blowing the crowd away but as they have Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) sitting in the producer’s chair, the signs are encouraging. Like Kasabian, they have a satisfying hairy quality, three of the members were among the most hirsute that I had seen in some time.

But the majority of the crowd was here to see the Brits. At times it was hard to remember that I was in Boston as yet another English accent took advantage in the breaks between songs to shout something that was (normally) soccer related.

Kasabian flirt with the music of the past but without scrimping on the technology that gets people to dance. They’re retro but relevant in the now, they have attitude but they embrace subtlety.
It is like having a slice of lemon wrapped around a brick.


Thanks for the awesome review, Dave! Check out the setlist and some fan-shot video from the night below, and be sure to catch Kasabian when they roll through your US or Canadian city in April.

Kasabian @ House of Blues: Set List
Days Are Forever
Shoot The Runner
Where Did All the Love Go
Thick as Thieves
Take Aim
Club Foot
Man of Simple Pleasures
L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
Switchblade Smiles
Vlad the Impaler

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