After controversial events led to a change in the band's lineup and questioned the future of their 2021 tour, Benedict Watson took a trip to Rock City to take a delve into Kasabian's performance for The Mic.
Kasabian are a band that have been shrouded in controversy in the past year, with lead singer Tom Meighan leaving the band after pleading guilty to assaulting his partner. This left an element of mystery about their 2021 tour. Who will take Meighan’s place as frontman? Will they be the same live tour de force that they built their reputation on? Will they play the hits, or try to build a new era for Kasabian? I was very excited to head to Rock City to find out the answer to these questions.
First, The Skinner Brothers took to the stage to show us their brand of testosterone-fuelled indie-rock, ‘telling stories of football,drugs,booze,sex and love’ – according to their Spotify bio. Whilst it can’t be argued that The Skinner Brothers are a similar type of band to Kasabian, and will probably appeal to a similar audience, I was a little disappointed that a band of Kasabian’s size didn’t have a more recognizable name supporting them. Nevertheless, they brought a lot of energy to their performance, with the emotional Away Days proving to be the highlight. Bumping into the lead singer in the crowd afterwards was also a nice surprise!
However, I doubt anyone in the crowd was there for the Skinner Brothers. The excitement built as DJ Katie Owens played indie bangers galore - it felt like a night at The Bodega's Indie Wednesdays! Eventually it was time for Kasabian to take to the interestingly polka dot themed stage. They played possibly the most front-packed setlist I’ve ever seen, with the first four songs consisting of huge hits Club Foot, Ill Ray (The King), Underdog and You’re In love With a Psycho. As the iconic guitar line in Club Foot started, someone stepped on the back of my shoe, so I spent the rest of the song and Ill Ray hopping about desperately trying to get my shoe back on!
''The show went by in a flash of mosh pits, huge guitar lines and belting choruses''
Thankfully my foot slipped back in ready for Underdog, which was very fortunate, as the crowd went absolutely wild for one of Kasabian’s most popular songs. I was only about 5 rows from the front and it was an incredible experience to be so close to new frontman Serge Pizzorno. Despite previously playing guitar for Kasabian, it felt like he was born to be a lead singer, constantly going from side to side and interacting with the crowd. After every song, the crowd chanted ''Sergio, Sergio'' – this was a level of adoration for a frontman that I’d never experienced before. It felt like we were going to see the Serge Pizzorno show rather than Kasabian, although that may be as much criticism of the anonymous performances of the other band members as it is praise of Pizzorno.
The show went by in a flash of mosh pits, huge guitar lines and belting choruses, and suddenly the end of Vlad The Impaler saw Kasabian leave the stage. They were soon back for a monumental encore though, starting with Bless This Acid House from their most recent album For Crying Out Loud. The only ballad of the night came in the form of Happiness, although that only lasted for half a song until the very slick transition into the start of L.S.F. The crowd belting out an extended version of the outro was one of the best moments of the night.
Our group did extremely well to stay together for most of the gig, but this became impossible once their final song Fire started. Rock City erupted into absolute pandemonium – I will forever be grateful to the stranger who warned ''Look behind you mate!'' a few seconds before I was about to accidentally find myself in one of the biggest mosh pits I’ve ever seen! As the song ended, Serge shouted ''See you next year for more of the same!'' suggesting that Kasabian have a busy year ahead of them. With performances like that, I’m sure there’ll be huge demand for Kasabian from festival-planners and gig-goers alike.
Written by: Benedict Watson
Edited by: Amrit Virdi