Kaiser Chiefs – The Opera House, Toronto - April 17, 2012
By Travis Parnaby
Photos by Walid Lodin
Heading to a Kaiser Chiefs show, there are a few constants you expect from the English five-piece:
1) Boundless energy
2) Rousing sing-a-longs
3) Smash hits
Leeds' finest Britpop purveyors ticked all these boxes and some at the Opera House this past Tuesday night. Lead by infectious frontman Ricky Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs tore through all of their big singles to the delight of punters, with the odd new number or album track thrown in.
In Toronto between Coachella Festival appearances, Kaiser Chiefs quickly had the usually-subdued Tuesday night crowd lapping-up their trusted formula of up-tempo, indie rock laced with catchy lyrics about crisps, lager eaters and other Briticisms.
The supercharged one-two punch of 'Everyday I Love You Less and Less' and 'Never Miss A Beat' set the scene, both sounding much bigger and played live at a faster clip. The Chiefs knack for a pop hook was shown in the underrated ‘Little Shocks’ and ‘Good Days and Bad Days' while the darker ‘Modern Way’, from the band’s breakthrough debut album Employment, nicely changed the pace from the upbeat onslaught.
“Its fun the old stuff, but we’re going to play a new song… You can look smug in 6 months’ time ‘coz you know the new stuff!” Wilson enthused while introducing fresh single ‘On the Run’, which oozes vintage Kaiser Chiefs with its festival-ready chorus.
Wilson clearly lives by the song’s refrain of: “I live for these moments, just like this one”. The days of Wilson prancing around in a school boy blazer may be gone in favour of a more mature dress, but the same youthful vigor was present. He puts so much into the show - vocals, dancing, bouncing – you often fear he’s going to keel over with exhaustion.
Let’s be honest, Kaiser Chiefs without Wilson is a vanilla proposition. His cohorts rarely raised their bowed heads or a smile throughout, instead deferring to the antics of the enigmatic frontman. And what fun Wilson is. Be it demanding a bottle of the local beer, Steamwhistle, from the audience, latching onto an excited male fan during ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays’ or leading the audience in “Toronto-saurus” chants, Wilson knows how to mix it up to ensure a top show.
A quick swig of water and Wilson was back at it, leading the pogo-ing on the band’s biggest hit ‘Ruby’, and well-worn favourites ‘The Angry Mob’, 'I Predict A Riot' and 'Na Na Na Na', “a song about f*** all”.
Wilson then promised the “Best thing you've ever heard in your lives and that includes everything tonight, which was pretty amazing”. New tune ‘Listen To Your Head’ didn’t live up to the bold claim, but the song did mark a shift, with Wilson employing vocal effects to deliver the eerie, spaced-out rocker.
Traditional set closer “Oh My God” proved a big finish, Wilson jumping all over the place like a jack-in-the-box.
A spent Wilson earned his paycheck on this night. They might be Kaiser Chiefs in name but truly, it is the Ricky Wilson show and the fans just love it.