By Cliff Moore
The curtains opened to reveal the five Kaisers on the roof of what looked like a duck shed, playing a couple of numbers from last year’s album Duck.
Their full kit was down below, drums and keyboards sitting on giant tyres and a massive screen stage left.
They ventured down the stairs for the third, more familiar song Na Na Na Na Naa, with mainman Ricky Wilson, dressed almost in quasi cowboy gear, endlessly moving across every inch of the stage.
As you can imagine, this was to be more than just a rock’n’roll concert, it was a show, an immersive experience – something that the Kaisers chucked not only the kitchen sink at, but the whole blooming kitchen.
The giant screen picture peeled away bit by bit, rather in Catchphrase style, to reveal live film of the band in action as well as plenty of other videos as the evening progressed. Add in strobes, steam blasts, inflatable stick men, endless giant confetti and streamers and you get the idea. The floor at the end was inches deep in paper. The exuberant Wilson is the ultimate frontman, his relentless pace not slowing for a second throughout. Suddenly he appeared on a platform in the middle of the crowd singing another new one, Target Market.
An audience member was invited to hook a duck, fairground style, from a paddling pool to choose an oldie the band would then play at random – and 2007’s Heat Dies Down proved so random that Wilson needed the lyrics pinned to a handy lamppost. He then raced off around the arena to rejoin the band on the stage. Wilson reminds me of another cheeky chappie mainman, Noddy Holder of Slade, although he is much more energetic (not surprising as Noddy is 73 now).
A mixture of new and old tracks followed, with a bumper three-song burst of Every Day I Love You Less And Less, Ruby and Modern Way preceding Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something and Never Miss A Beat before the inevitable, rabble-rousing I Predict A Riot.
Closing song The Angry Mob had a nice touch to it – the screen displaying headlines from this very newspaper from 2016 when the Kaisers’ Night Air show on Bournemouth beach during the Air Festival was cancelled when high tides flooded the arena
After all that the three-track encore seemed a bit of an anti-climax, even with the singalong favourite Oh My God finishing things off as the band disappeared behind a blizzard of confetti and everyone departed with a smile on their face.
Razorlight were pretty big in the mid-noughties, split in 2014 and returned in 2017 to no great acclaim, an album the following year not really denting the public consciousness.
So here was frontman Johnny Borrell, full of self-belief and a fairly outspoken and controversial figure in his time, finding himself playing second fiddle to the Kaisers in a venue Razorlight themselves sold out in their 2007 prime.
But give him credit, his four/five-piece combo knuckled down for an excellent greatest hits set featuring the likes of Before I Fall To Pieces, Vice, In The Morning, Somewhere Else and, of course, America.
Bjorn Agren’s sublime guitar was ever to the fore and Borrell curbed his idiosyncratic vocal style and thus we had 50 minutes of great music, topped by the epic, extended, Doors-like In The City, which might just have been the highlight of the whole evening.
Opening proceedings were Hull post-punk absurdist polemics, I kid you not, LIFE. A short and not so sweet set ensued from the best thing straight outta Humberside since The Housemartins flew the nest.
With two albums now behind them, LIFE are no spring chickens, but neither are they gnarled veterans (see above) and there is more freshness to their ranty output than that of, say, Idles and the Sleaford Mods.
Brothers Mez and Mike Sanders-Green lead the pretty tight four-piece with aplomb, Singer Mez commenting on pretty personal matters and the world’s shortcomings in general during their blitzkrieg live performance. The crowd didn’t move; too young to pogo perhaps.
Possibly channelling Mark E Smith’s vocals and Ian Curtis’s dance moves, Mez’s subjects ranged from Trump and Brexit to single parenthood – and he looked not unlike how it would be if comedian James Acaster fronted a punk combo.
Four hours of great stuff!