Kaiser Chiefs / The Cribs / Maximo Park - Manchester Apollo - 15/09/05

The three Jarman brothers whose brand of Wakefield based woe releasing rhythmic rock makes up The Cribs, elected to adapt the V set up on stage (rumour has it that is Sven Goran Erikson’s chosen 3 a side formation!). Earnest and focused drummer Ross occupied the centre rear and the two vocalists Ryan (Guitar) and Gary (Bass) were positioned at either side of the stage, negating the need for a discernible front man. The latter two produced stirring performances to give the sound a coated and almost forcible football fan style feel, as they provided a rally cry for the underdog. I for one heard it loud and clear.

Having produced more albums than the other two acts in attendance tonight put together, they concentrated their efforts on latest and third full length offering ‘The New Fellas’.  The commanding and rhythmic ‘Martell’ instigated the first Saturday night shimmying and was built upon in the forceful and flighty; ‘The Wrong Way To Be’ incorporating a boyish speaking narrative that was juxtaposed with yearning choruses. This made for a gripping end to a magnanimous and friendly introduction to a much underrated outfit.

The fact that they were still firing on the publicity of being a Mercury Prize nominee, ensured that Geordie disco rock quintet; Maximo Park were greeted with glee and enthusiasm. The vibrant, thoughtful and groove friendly; ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’ leapt out from a launch pad of careering guitars and provocative falsetto vocals. It appealed to the contemplative members of the crowd, as they were able to shake off their woes, but still think at the same time. Hearts strings were tugged at with force and feeling in ‘Kiss You Better’, with events becoming livelier and livelier, before ‘Maximum Pressure’ was applied with precision and melody to complete the warm up.

I went to see a great play in Albuquerque a few weeks back (it was Frozen by Byrony Lavery satisfy any curious literary buffs), what made it so memorable was the fact that it raised many more questions than answers. Well, tonight that is what the Kaiser Chiefs came on and did after the intriguing war like video documentary intro. Could they justify the hype? Given the success of their debut album ‘Employment’; impressing the crowd going was always going to be easier than getting Charlotte Church to have a drink. However, Ricky Wilson’s infectious ability to give the band’s well noted choruses extra force and life in a live setting, may well mean that the one album wonder tag that so many wanted to place on this outfit (ok, I admit it; I did too), was emphatically ripped off. ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Born To Be A Dancer’ would not have been many people’s first choice of an opening double whammy, but Wilson’s exuberance and craft made them both a lively and relaxing commencement.

Despite the well placed utilization of the frantic favourites of ‘Everyday I Love You Less And Less’ and ‘I Predict A Riot’, more striking were the slower and more yearning new single; ‘Modern Way’, a wistful new number that produced a bit of soul to Wilson’s vocals and their ability to finally perform ‘Employment’ live. This raised the question that maybe the Kaiser Chiefs do have the steel and depth to maintain their lofty status? Also, they may not be mere Brit pop revivalists playing the nostalgia card?

Wilson occupied the stage and the floor in front of it with almost, dare I say it; Freddie Mercury-like confidence. By way of house raising finale ‘Oh My God’, the Chiefs put the lid on a masterful and intriguing evening. Many people, especially the rugby fans present were left to ponder when the last time a Leeds outfit strode into the heart of Manchester and dominated proceedings with such ease?

David Adair

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