Back in the UK, Leicester-quartet Kasabian are undeniably massive. With a handful of chart topping albums and a legendary headline set at Glastonbury behind their backs, you’d think that this success has translated the world over. Unfortunately for the Tom Meighan-fronted group, this isn’t the case. Tonight they performed to an “intimate” (by their standards) crowd of 4,500 people at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, in support of brand new album 48:13. How many of those people were Dutch still remains a mystery, with a vast majority of fans trekking from the UK for this show.
Leeds hardcore rock four-piece Pulled Apart by Horses opened the evening with their unique brand of groove metal and hardcore. Leaning heavily on new album Blood, set opener Hot Squash set the scene before the likes of new single Medium Rare and energetic set closer High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive saw vocalist Tom Hudson chuck his guitar to the ground as he grooved and screamed his way through them. They’re not a massive band yet, but that will surely change as they evolve further from a young hardcore group to the classic rockers they’re becoming.
A short 30 minutes later the lights dimmed as 48:13’s instrumental opener shiva pulsated its way through the speakers. Moments later the band appeared onstage one by one, with the dynamic duo of guitarist/vocalist Serge Pizzorno and lead vocalist Tom Meighan saluting the crowd as they broke into a powerful rendition of bumblebeee. It only took one song for the pits to erupt, with a massive throng of Brits forcing their way through the crowd. As the lights faded, these same Brits broke into their own song, chanting “Leicester, Leicester, Leicester!” repeatedly in honour of Kasabian’s hometown. Shoot the Runner followed, preceded by a new intro which consisted of Kanye West’s Black Skinhead seguing perfectly into Shoot the Runner’s lad-rock riff, accompanied by a whole plethora of lasers (Kasabian’s lighting is truly magnificent). As the song rounded off with some euphoric chanting, people were getting on eachother’s shoulders all over the venue with security even making their way into the crowd to forcibly pull people down. The equally anthemic Underdog followed, which encouraged the first big sing-a-long of the night before an extended mid-section made way for a goosebump-inducing solo. The pace slowed a little bit for the absurd circus melodies of Where Did All the Love Go?, but that didn’t stop certain crowd members breaking into pits as Days are Forgotten elicited a similar response from the crowd. Both songs are quite memorable and easy to sing along to, which certainly put a smile on Pizzorno’s face. Pizzorno and Meighan are like two frontmen for the price of one, with the rest of the band (bassist Chris Edwards and drummer Ian Matthews, plus three touring members) taking a considerable step back. Following this spell of older songs, clouds was the second of a mere five new songs to be played. It’s quite a small number for a record which was made to sell out shows like this, but it didn’t turn out too bad as clouds saw a lot of crowd members swaying back and forth in euphoria. Lead single eez-eh followed immediately, starting a full-on rave in the audience. Not a single soul stood still as everyone sang along to the catchy refrain of “I’m gonna keep you up all night” before a number of pits appeared on the floor. Eez-eh’s extended outro made way for Meighan’s onstage departure as Pizzorno took the lead for a truly remarkable version of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’s Take Aim. Opening with two-thirds of old fan favourite The Doberman (which culminated in an epic trumpet solo from touring trumpeter Dan Newell), Pizzorno held the crowd in the palm of his hands as he commanded the audience magnificently. Meighan swiftly made his way back onstage as West Ryder’s Thick as Thieves received another outing. Thick as Thieves is a nice, simple song which doesn’t get much more exciting than the sing-a-long bit at the end, but it’s certainly a sight to see when four middle aged beer belly Brits throw their beers in the air and sing at the top of their lungs.
The slower pace was subsequently eradicated as the heavily distorted bassline of Club Foot made its way through the speakers, courtesy of bassist Chris Edwards. Club Foot saw the pits get a whole lot bigger, with its football stadium chanting going down very well with the crowd. The grooving rhythms of Re-Wired (from 2011’s Velociraptor! record) went on to encourage plenty of “dance pits”, before a swirling solo helped the track slowly wind up. At this point, the show changed from a rock show into a proper rave as the beat-heavy treat followed. The first part of the song (which was dedicated to everyone in the crowd from Leicester) sees Meighan strut around stage singing about how he “works it like a treat”, before leaving the stage to leave Pizzorno behind a set of synthesizers and drum pads. If there’s one part of the show which showcases truly how talented Pizzorno is, it’s this song. As the rave lasers flickered throughout the room, Pizzorno played along before swaggering across stage with maracas which he eventually chucked into the crowd. Switchblade Smiles followed, with its synth bassline being so heavy that the ground was shaking as Meighan half-rapped his way through the pounding track. He followed this up by insisting the crowd follow his lead, clapping faster on every beat before breaking into Empire. “Stop! I said it’s happening again!” echoed through the Heineken Music Hall, before a stellar rendition of Fire closed the main set with sheer ferocity on behalf of both the band and the crowd.
With the band offstage for a couple of minutes, Leicester-related chants made their way through the room before the smooth cello intro from new single stevie played through the PA. Stevie is by far one of Kasabian’s best songs, with its intense build-up and epic, stadium-sized chorus taking centre stage. A carnage-inducing rendition of Vlad the Impaler (sadly minus Noel Fielding) followed, with Pizzorno instructing the crowd to “jump higher than they’ve ever fucking jumped in their lives”. The crowd certainly didn’t disappoint as pints of beer and various limbs flew across the sweaty floor. By this point, the show had already come to an end as set closer L.S.F. was preceded by a nice cover of Fatboy Slim’s classic track Praise You. This segued perfectly into the set closer, which saw the whole crowd sing along at the top of their lungs to its massive chanted chorus. As the band finished up and thanked the crowd, the whole room kept singing this chant back to them, with the chanting even making its way to the train station afterwards.
Why Kasabian aren’t headlining festivals and arenas in mainland Europe will always remain a mystery. Tonight’s show was an unforgettable one, and definitely an indicator that the best is yet to come from these unlikely Leicester lads.