It’s been a good year for Kasabian. Their third album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, is a confirmed critical and commercial success, being nominated for the Mercury Prize and recently named ‘Album of the Year’ at the Q Awards. 2009 has also seen the band take the leap from playing halls and theatres to become a firmly established arena act. And so it is that tonight they’re playing Dublin’s cavernous O2.
State is delayed on the way to the venue, which means we miss out on seeing support act Reverend & the Makers doing their thing. In fact, there’s just enough time to take up position before the main event gets underway. The lights go out and the curtain shrouding the stage is drawn back to reveal the Leicestershire quintet already in place and playing the first strains of their opener. Intriguingly they choose not to kick off with one of their better known heavy hitters, but with ‘Julie & the Mothman’ – a B side on their recent ‘Underdog’ single. Indeed, they follow up with ‘Underdog’ and there’s a deafening roar when the song’s distinctive guitar intro reaches the crowd’s ears.
The stage is impressively kitted out, bordered by a colossal LCD frame displaying an assortment of designs and literary quotations, and flanked by a pair of screens showing projected images of the band. But all of this would be superfluous without a good performance from the group and tonight Kasabian are most definitely in form. Tom Meighan commands the stage with his cocky swagger and Leicester drawl, while Sergio Pizzorno and his cohorts produce some mighty fine noise.
Tonight’s setlist proves just how strong Kasabian’s catalogue is. Songs like ‘Shoot the Runner’, Processed Beats’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Take Aim’ are churned out one after another with stunning fierocity. And the quieter moments work quite well too. For the duet on ‘West Ryder/Silver Bullet’ they’re joined by Lisa Elle from Dark Horses, who sings the parts sung by Rosario Dawson on record. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is dedicated to Meighan’s Irish grandparents and the the audience willingly comply with his requests to hold up their cigarette lighters as they sing along. Then it’s back to rawkus numbers in the form of ‘The Doberman’ and an awesome version of ‘Club Foot’, before the group departs the stage.
But the show doesn’t end there. Kasabian return and, as they start into ‘Vlad the Impaler’, none other than Noel Fielding appears alongside them dressed in his costume from the song’s video. He spends his time dancing around, poking people in the front row with a spear and throwing papier mache heads into the crowd. It’s tough to follow up all that but they manage to better it; as they finish up with ‘Lost Souls Forever’ a giant gold ball is sent into the arena for the crowd to punch around and, as the song reaches it’s conclusion, giant confetti cannons shoot out a torrent of streamers to provide the best end of gig climax State has witnessed for some time. It’s been quite an experience and it’s left several punters hoarse, sweaty and exhausted yet visibly satisfied and it’s this scene that Kasabian can view and take pleasure in a job well done.
Photos by Julie Bienvenu.