Once upon at time, not so very long ago in IndieLand, strange posters started appearing and sometimes,also, there were flags. They showed a masked face,hand-drawn (not very competently) and had a vaguely revolutionary feel.
With a little detective work, The Kids discoveredthat if you followed the flags, they led you tosomething called The Movement, which was a kind of fanclub for a band called Kasabian, who were named aftera follower of Charles Manson and whose music soundedvery much like the Stone Roses, who allsensible indie kids knew were one of the greatestbands ever.
If you joined The Movement, Kasabian looked afteryou well. They invited you to secret gigs and made youfeel part of their special club, which was all thebetter for the brilliant, Madchester-homaging music oftheir debut single Processed Beats and their eponymous first album. Lost in a musical wilderness between old rave (which was then just rave) and the new rave that was yet to come, they were something very, very special.
Until they decided that instead of being the StoneRoses with a secret fan club, they wanted to beOasis instead. Virtually overnight, Tom Meighanmorphed from the saviour of modern music into apotty-mouthed, lager-lout parody of a lost, lesstalented Gallagher brother. Instead of playing secretgigs in tiny venues to crowds recruited off theinternet, Kasabian seemed to have their sights set onconcerts in bigger and bigger stadiums. Their secondalbum, Empire, sounded like Oasis with all thegood bits taken out, written after too long a night atYates Wine Lodge.
Sitting on the terrace at Somerset House it’s impossible to shake the feeling that something, somewhere, has gone seriously wrong. This is an uber-middle class venue at an uber-middle class festival, and in half an hour the man who once lambasted Julian Casablancas for being a “posh f**cking skiier” will be playing in the courtyard of the former offices of the Inland Revenue, performing songs that have copied all their best bits from elsewhere while pretending he’s from Manchester circa 1989 rather than a small village in Leicestershire.
But does this necessarily mean the show will not beany good? First signs indicate that arch cynicism is unnecessary. The concert starts with Serge Pizzorno leading in with a guitar solo, reminding us how good Kasabian can be, before Meighan enters, dressed as a Stars In Your Eyes Ian Brown, to swagger through a storming Shoot The Runner which, let’s face it, is fantastic live.
Over the next hour, however, entertaining thoughtheir set is, it’s undeniable that what shines is theolder material (Processed Beats especially) and themoments when Pizzorno takes the mic for the newerstuff. Sun Rise Light Flies is incredible, BritishLegion is even better. Conspiracy theorists mightwonder if he’s deliberately keeping the best forhimself since taking over as the band’s mainsongwriter, slowly marginalising Meighan by pushinghim further and further into an Oasis-aping corner.
Kasabian ARE a great live band. They DO producegreat moments. By My Side is brilliant. Me Plus One isa fantastic singalong. Empire is stunning, even thoughit does bring with it a frenzy of bottledwater-throwing from the pretend lager louts of theaudience. During the encore, The Last Trip isspine-chilling.
But this is stadium rock and it has ventured toofar into fake Oasis territory for a band who oncepromised so much more. Once, Kasabian were better thanthis and when it’s all over, can you shake the feelingthat, once he goes solo, Pizzorno will be that muchbetter again?