Live Music + Gig Reviews

Kaiser Chiefs via David Arnold + Cold War Kids @ Roundhouse, London

26 October 2007

But why? Aside from the possibility that the BBC Electric Proms line up was decided by a modified version of the machinery used to handle the FA Cup draw, what possible reason would you have for throwing the people who appeared on stage tonight together?

“…Picking the mainstream act, we’ve got Gary. So Gary, if you’d like to grab a ball… Okay, we’ve got the Kaiser Chiefs. And who will the Kaiser Chiefs be drawn with. Trevor, will you do the honours. Okay, yep, thanks, we have David Arnold. Oooh, the Kaiser Chiefs and David Arnold; that’s going to be a tightly contested matchup. But just to mix it up a bit, Mark, would you be so good to pick three other random factors to chuck in the mix… Ok, we have: the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and some Indian drummers courtesy of the Dhol Foundation. Brilliant…”

It’s possible that the Cold War Kids may have benefited more from the orchestra than the Chiefs did. Or maybe they could have just got them to stand in the audience so it appeared there was a few more people watching them. Kind of unfair because, particularly on an impassioned run through Hang Me Out To Dry, they weren’t half bad.

There were two moments when having these headliners and these other people on the stage at the same time actually seemed worthwhile. The clutch of ukuleles thrown at Ruby helped transformed it from being just another Kaiser Chiefs song to being just another Kaiser Chiefs song but with a faint glow of originality, while the climactic merging of an extra symphonic Oh My God into Land Of Hope And Glory (complete with a carpet bombing of balloons) was at the very least witty. Or kind of witty, anyway.

The rest of the time you wouldn’t have been surprised had the whole thing turned out to be some kind of bizarre scheduling accident. Modern Way and I Predict A Riot were performed over the top of, rather than happily with, Arnold’s widescreen orchestral swoops, while The Angry Mob’s attempted segway from half-passable social commentary into (undeniably good) Indian drumming had you half believing the stage had been invaded by protesters against songs which go ‘na-na-na-na-naaa’.

Again, you have to ask the question why? The Angry Mob isn’t exactly bursting with eastern rhythms, I Predict A Riot and The Modern Way aren’t obvious contenders for the next Bond theme, so why try and shoehorn them into behaving that way?

Ultimately the most damning fact was that large sections of the gig didn’t use the massed ranks of classically trained musicians hidden at the back of the stage, or, seemingly, the person who this evening was supposed to be “Via”.

Which made it just another Kaiser Chiefs gig. Ricky runs around. They play two, possibly three songs, and then play them again with different words. If this was to be an opportunity for the Kaisers to prove they’re more than just a throwaway pop band then it was an opportunity totally spurned. Whatever the result of this fixture was, let’s pray there isn’t a replay.

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Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads
Kaiser Chiefs via David Arnold + Cold War Kids @ Roundhouse, London