Captivating a crowd of other 12,000 is never easy nor is it something that all bands are able to achieve. However, both The Maccabees and Kasabian appeared at home in front of 12,000 adoring Midlands’ fans.
The Maccabees roared through a powerful set featuring a mixture of old and new, proving that while their sound may have matured in latest album ‘Given to the Wild’, teenage classics like ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ and ‘First Love’ still hold as much of a special place in their hearts as they do in ours. The intensity of ‘Feel to Follow’ ‘Pelican’ and an array of new tracks had a clarity of sophistication yet still retained an energy making you crave the full-frontal force of a full-blown moshpit as to loose yourself completely to a pure frenzy of boundless Maccabees madness.
Not only did Kasabian get the crowd hurdling across the arena right from the opening scream of ‘Bumblebee’, but they delivered a magnetic performance throughout. The live atmosphere and body heat of 12,000 people added an extra layer of depth to the tracks from ‘48:13’, proving ultimately that music is made to be played live. Indeed, live Kasabian proved to be all encasing and all consuming, something that cannot be achieved without the all-too familiar painful elbow in the back of the head or the invasion of personal space. The eruption of hit ‘Bumbleebee’ and the later performed ‘Eez-eh’ proved the power music can have on a group of people united in their common love of music. The music bounced off the walls and the crowd bounced off each other.
Kasabian opened with the intent to cause a storm of mayhem, with ‘Bumblebee’, ‘Shoot the Runner’ (which included an interesting Kanye West mash-up of ‘Black Skinhead’), ‘Underdog’, ‘Fast Fuse’ and ‘Days are Forgotten’ providing nonstop energy to the excited crowd. The band certainly never paused for breath but neither did the crowd, gaining momentum with each power-hungry guitar chord.
Now I don’t typically like to get too personal in these reviews but I was unbelievably moved after I stumbled out of one moshpit to hear a girl behind me scream to her friend ‘this is just my favourite night EVER!’. The intensity and desperation this girl used when attempting to convey her pleasure reminded me of the sheer power of gigs – you are quite literally dancing in the hand of the band for one night only. When they command you to jump, you jump. When they command you to sing, you sing your like you have never sung before – you are theirs completely for the night whether you like it or not.
However, my moment of nostalgic recollection was rudely interrupted with ‘Rewired’ announcing itself with a seductive whisper that built into a momentous thrust that was taken to new heights when the band ingeniously melted it into a cover of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’. Thinking you don’t know it? Of course you do. When Serge roared “Wave your hands in the air/Like you don’t care /Glide by the people as they start to look and stare/Do your dance” at an entirely unsuspecting crowd it was forced into a hypnotic rave guided by strobe lighting, totally reminiscent of the 80s. The rave didn’t stop there though and rather than produce the more expected moshpit, Treat forced a sea of raving and dancing. Truly hypnotic and completely mesmerising, this song needed a disclaimer saying ‘Warning! Hip action required throughout!’
Of course, renditions of ‘Club Foot’ and ‘Fire’ were above and beyond what you could ever expect capable of mere mortals to produce. The encore of ‘Stevie’, ‘Vlad the Impaler’ and ‘L. S. F.’ had the impossible task of living up to this demanding crowd’s desire for more after night full of raving, raving, moshing and more raving. And, yet again, of course Serge and the gang smashed it. If the quality of a gig is to be measured in terms of the decibels the crowd produce when demanding for more even after the encore, then Kasabian’s attempts were up there with some of the best gigs this year. Indeed, the crowd’s final chants of ‘eez-EH! Eez-EH! EEEZZZZZZ-EHHHHHHHHHH!’ were loud enough for all of Birmingham to hear and will be still ringing in many people’s ears for days to come.