Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kaiser Chiefs Live at the O2

Apparently it’s weird to go to concerts alone. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been one to do things the normal way. After spending so much of my time alone, and having to do everything with just myself for company, I’ve kind of gotten used to it. I don’t think I even realise what I’m doing is weird anymore. Well, the couple next to me at Kaiser Chiefs sure noticed it was weird. I spent most of the evening trying to figure out if the looks they kept casting me were confused, suspicious or pitying…

After swearing I wouldn’t buy any more concert tickets until I’d been paid, I somehow found myself typing my card details into Viagogo two days before Kaiser Chiefs were set to play at the O2. It’s only 22 quid, I told myself. Plus, I’d missed most of Kasiers’ set before Foo Fighters back in December, because I’d been, ya know, meeting Dave Grohl. No biggie. Plus, I’d never been to the O2 before, so I bought my super cheap re-sale ticket, and off I headed to Greenwich North station, after a cross-Baker Street station trek. Seriously, the Jubilee Line is unnecessarily far from the rest of the world.

With gates set to open at 6.30pm, I stepped out of the station at 6.29pm, unconcerned as I had a seated ticket. In the corner of the station, someone was busking to ‘I Predict A Riot’, and I had just enough time to ponder how interesting it sounded in a female voice before I got close enough to realise it was a dude. Though sadly not Ricky Wilson.

Starving, but wanting to spend as little money as possible, I scanned the area for a McDonald’s, but was unsuccessful. My options were thus Subway, or… Subway. I opted for a chicken sub which was 1) out priced 2) tiny and 3) so full of onion that I could still taste them after brushing my teeth three times. But, one lives and one learns, and next time I’ll simply wait until I’m INSIDE the O2 before I stuff my face. See, there’s a Starbucks, and even a SPUR! That’s right, a good old-fashioned, burgers-and-barbecue-sauce Spur.

Inside, I made my way up the fancy escalators, then found my seat (next to the judge couple) and then took a stroll around the arena. Yes, I am perfectly entitled to stroll around all by myself, and that’s exactly what I did! And by some miracle, I remembered a half-eaten slab of Cadbury Oreo chocolate in my handbag, sparing my from paying for snacks, or throwing away 2.40 on a cup of tea. I’m not even from this country, and I can tell that’s daylight robbery. I also managed to restrain myself from buying any kind of tour merch. I mean really, I have enough band t-shirts. [edit: I feel really bad for saying that and right now I’m on the verge of grabbing a Killers tee out of my drawer and pressing it to my face whilst sobbing. Moving countries is a very emotional thing, okay?]

Moving along.

Opening act Public Service Broadcasting could have done everyone a public service and just not gone on stage. Seriously. Out of respect for them, I stayed in my seat, but headed out for another stroll as soon as they and finished. Seated tickets are surely the only way to go. After a full day of work, I couldn’t even imagine being in standing. Guess I really am getting too old for this…

Now, I’d seen Kaiser Chiefs twice before: once at Reading in 2012, squished halfway through the crowd, with my back against a barrier and the sun baking down upon the body that was aching to be back in a bed that was not a tent. The second time was after I’d just met Dave freaking Grohl, and all I could register was that the crowd didn’t appreciate anything, and that ‘Never Miss A Beat’ was still my favourite Chiefs song. Needless to say, the third time I got to see them was the first I got to truly appreciate them.

And they sure didn’t disappoint. Full of humour, Ricky is so endearing that I honestly just want to hug him. I have this huge soft spot for this band that I can’t even explain. Maybe it’s because of the hilarity with which they recounted the scarf-in-the-soup incident in that YouTube video. Perhaps it’s because I still feel a little guilty for not loving Ruby when it first came out…

So Kaisers start off with The Factory Gates and then without, well, without missing a beat, move straight into Everyday I Love You Less and Less. Aaaand the crowd are extremely happy. I’m surprised but not unhappy that oldies like this and Everything Is Average Nowadays still make it into the setlist.

When Ricky - somehow - makes his way to the B-stage in the middle of the standing section for The Angry Mob, I literally witnessed two people in the disabled section just above me completely disregard their wheelchairs and get up to dance. I am not kidding.

In my extensive Kaiser Chiefs listening, I had never before come across Roses. In fact, I was quite convinced at the time that it was a cover, and made a mental note to look up the original song, because it sounded great. Well, I was wrong. And somehow it gave a glimpse into what KC could have become if they’d wanted to be a band who took themselves a little more seriously, dispensed with the catchy choruses and repetitive lyrics, and toned down the crazy stage antics. If they had focused on musical ability and vocal talent instead. And I was blown away.

But before I could become too contemplative, we were back to normal, rocking Modern Way and my own favourite, Never Miss A Beat, and then a band member selection. Peanut chose Time Honoured Tradition, but only after Ricky reminded him in a stage whisper to please choose something the new drummer knows how to play… “Why are you all shouting ‘Ruby’?” Ricky asked the crowd, sounding genuinely amused, “We’re going to play Ruby!” And they sure did, following their biggest hit with arguably their best song, I Predict A Riot.

Now, sometime during the day, I’d read an NME article about a video of Dave Grohl which was being played before the encore during KC’s tour. From the way NME put it, it was real footage filmed when the two bands toured together, of Dave losing his temper with Ricky and co. Instead, we were treated to an obviously staged video of Dave employing every swear word he had ever come across, insulting the hair-dos of every Kaiser Chiefs member, and ripping into Ricky for judging the X-Factor. I tried not to cry from laughter. I also tried not to imagine Dave laughing his ass off and apologising to the rest of them as soon as the director yelled “Cut!”

The three song encore ended, as usual, with Oh My God, and I had the time of my life singing along, because as we all know, I really have never been this far from home.

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