Live Review: Kasabian, Capital FM Arena (29/11/14)

Following the release of their fifth album, 48:13, Kasabian blasted into town on Saturday night to play the second of two Nottingham dates on their national tour. As they walked into the Capital FM Arena, they had the air of a band who know they are ruling supreme, and who have thus decided to change things up. They’ve got the established tunes to support themselves, and so they’ve gone a bit different for the new album, but have lost none of their swagger.

As an onscreen display counted down to their arrival, the anticipation reached fever pitch, and when the re-jigged intro to new single ‘bumblebeee’ kicked in, there were cheers. Perhaps not up there with their best songs, but it succeeded in getting the crowd going. Frontman Tom Meighan had even suited (well, jacketed) up for the occasion, and guitarist Sergio Pizzorno’s quirkiness was still in evidence – he wore a white t-shirt emblazoned simply with the words ‘salad cream’. The man’s a law unto himself.

Meighan then growled ‘We’re gonna make this one fucking better than last night.’ His cockiness is still present and correct, but thankfully now tempered with a more wistful air, and his double act with the quiet, scarecrow-esque Pizzorno continues to be the heart of the band.

They launched into ‘Shoot The Runner’ next, and therein lay the power of their set: Kasabian knew how to mix it up. They affirmed the fact that they’ve still got the oomph to pack out stadiums and usher in a good time. ‘Club Foot’, ‘Empire’ and their all-round best song ‘Fire’ retain the foot-stomping, mass revelry-inducing power that they have always held over large crowds. ‘Fire’ in particular, which came right at the end of the set, before the encore, had the room jumping for the rafters.

However, they also balanced things out with some well-chosen quieter songs from their back-catalogue, and for my money the best of their new material. A slowed-down version of ‘Bow’, which had been pared back to just a guitar and Pizzorno’s voice was a mid-show stand-out. It was an undisputable highlight, but Western-like strum-along ‘Thick As Thieves’ and the contemplative ‘sps’ were equally fantastic and rounded out the strongest period of pretty much the perfect Kasabian set. Most of the credit for that must go to Pizzorno, the main creative force behind the band, who was deservedly given more solo airtime here than usual.

Proceedings came to a head, however, when Meighan strode to the front of the stage and said ‘Nottingham…rise!’, as they began one of their biggest songs, which led into tracks like ‘Re-Wired’ and ‘Switchblade Smiles’. The band frequently raised their arms during the set, as if we should bow down to them (and probably with good reason). But right at the end, when ‘Praise You/L.S.F’ (now their favoured outro) faded out and most of the band left the stage, Serge Pizzorno stayed. With the crowd continuing to chant ‘la-la-la lalalalala-la’, he sank to his knees and raised his arms to us, soaking up the adulation, looking for all the world as though he didn’t want to leave the stage. Sadly, leave he had to.

Their set here was a synthesis of their heavy, recognisable tunes, and some of their slower, more thoughtful stuff. The band have adapted their sound, mixing dubstep-esque rhythms with the big rock tunes of the past. As per The Arctic Monkeys, they’ve not been afraid to experiment with their style, and that’s perhaps why they’re still riding high. They rocked this gig.

The band are living proof that rock’n’roll isn’t dead, it’s just moved on, and here they finally proved (against all my expectations) that they’re not just good with a tune, but that they’ve grown up. Take a bow, Kasabian. You’ve done yourselves proud.

Alex Nicholson

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