Kasabian at 3Arena on 8th December 2014
It’s hard to decide how Kasabian have achieved as much success as they have. The band sound exactly what an Oasis/Primal Scream/Happy Mondays supergroup would sound like, but despite that the group have consistently churned out excellent tunes, and the offerings from the latest album maintain this high standard. Coupled with a reputation for powerful live shows, expectations were pretty high for this show.
A large timer above the stage counts down to the band’s appearance, but once we hit zero, the band emerge performing an acoustic version of bumblebeee. It’s slightly underwhelming to say the least, but that’s not a problem once the song is unleashed in all its pumped-up glory. The tune is accompanied by some delightfully aggravating flashing lights, and is a real head-banger to start the show with.
The band move on to Shoot The Runner and Underdog, and both are performed with passion and energy, but the bass is totally overblown. Most of the riffs are lost in the big bass rumble, and it really takes away from these tunes. This overdriven bass is a problem that persists throughout the night, and while it works a charm on the dance-y, electronic tracks – many of which are from the new album – the more guitar-based, rock tracks suffer greatly.
Where Did All The Love Go is a slightly stripped back number, and as such avoids the bass rumble that plagues some of the other tracks. Tom Meighan’s vocals really excel here, and his charismatic swagger contributes to a great stage presence. The same cannot be said though for guitarist Serge Pizzorno. Despite the fact he is the chief songwriter for the band, he adds nothing to the group’s live presence. All the important guitar work, such as the solos, is left to touring guitarist Tim Carter, and his backing vocals are weak and weedy, particularly on Cutt Off where Meighan has to join in for the “aaahs” to be properly heard.
Serge then takes the lead vocals for bow, and the song is the weakest of the night. His vocals aren’t awful, they just lack the power and intensity of Meighan’s. As for his stage presence, when he’s not staring down at his feet, he’s prancing about the stage like a seven-year-old who’s had too much sugar at a birthday party. It’s like he wants to be a frontman so bad, but he just can’t pull it off, and ultimately he just prevents Meighan from fully engaging with the crowd.
At least the tunes are quality, with Thick As Thieves and Club Foot sounding immense. That massive bass sound encroaches on Empire and Fire quite badly, but Meighan’s booming vocals ensure the songs still sound mega. The band really let loose for the encore with Vlad The Impaler blowing us away with its full-on intensity. The track is quite plain on record, but in the live arena it is an absolute cracker.
An interesting piano-driven version of the Fatboy Slim song Praise You eventually runs into an epic version of L.S.F where Meighan leads a glorious sing-a-long before leaving to a triumphant chorus of “Olés”. There is no doubting the energy and power within the group, and the subtle addition of strings and horns create a brilliant, full sound, particularly on L.S.F.
For all the sound issues, Kasabian put on a fantastic show, although the dynamic between Pizzorno and Meighan is a weird one. Meighan is a far superior singer, and is more than capable at being the charismatic frontman, whereas Pizzorno looks like he’s trying too hard to be the main focus. If the band decided to store Pizzorno in a box at the back of the stage this would have been a perfect performance, but the band’s high-octane set, packed with their very best tunes, is more than satisfactory.