One thing’s for certain: throughout this period of shutdown, Kaiser Chiefs have not been idle. If they haven’t been re-recording one of their most well-known songs with lockdown lyrics, they’ve been participating in listening parties and playing at Royal Albert Home. To top it all off, they’ve now performed a special gig which put the set list at the mercy of their fans – Not Playing The Hits. Unlike a usual gig, where all of the big tracks are brought out all guns blazing, they put a call-out on social media for suggestions of B-sides, rarities & album tracks that we, the fans, would love to hear performed live.
As with many of my favourite artists, I did lose touch with t’Chiefs for a bit when I really immersed myself in theatre, but several thought still immediately came to mind. I was satisfied very early on, as they kicked off with I Predict A Riot re-release accompaniment (it was a double A-side) Sink That Ship; a burst of energy, full of trademark punchy riffs and lyrics – most of which I discovered were still lodged in my brain all these years later. I was also pleased to see another song from the Employment era on the set list in Oh My God B-side Think About You (And I Like It) – and intrigued to learn afterwards that drummer Vijay Mistry had never played the song before that very moment. Why not take the opportunity to make an experience that extra bit special?
Everything from this stage in the Kaiser Chiefs’ career will always be incredibly special to me; I know Employment inside out and always return to it to find the same energy, aggression & fun in there.
The rest of the songs in the main set I think I’ve probably only heard once or twice before… As I’ve mentioned previously, my album listening habits have been fairly shoddy up until now, often neglecting album tracks entirely and simply listening to the songs I already know – either singles or ones that happen to have been played elsewhere. But that’s part of the beauty of a performance like this; not only is it truly a gift for the fans, but it’s also an opportunity to give an extra insight into albums in the back catalogue – singles may not always be the most representative of the album’s overall flavour. On top of this, it also gave bassist Simon Rix a chance to work his way through a selection of the band’s t-shirts from song to song!
Leading up to the première of this session a lot had been made about staying for the encore (I still don’t understand why people leave in their droves before encores at real gigs), and I was trying to work out what was going to be so special about it – especially when the set began with a song that I saw requested in a lot of other people’s tweets. It was genuinely exciting to discover that it was the debut of a brand new song, written over the past few weeks: Only The Start. (Quite an ominous title if you apply it to the current situation!) Classic Chiefs – dynamic & catchy, with fast-paced lyrics and a killer bassline.
This was a wonderful idea, executed to perfection – and a brilliant accompaniment to the Royal Albert Hall set. Once again some brilliant lighting & graphics were on display (Jason Hyne & Dani Beck), giving it more of a concert feel during the performances and providing some fun fact pages introducing each song. Ideal entertainment for another Friday night in isolation.
Kaiser Chiefs: Not Playing The Hits was on 3 July 2020 as part of the Brudenell Social Distancing Club. Visit the Music Venue Trust website to support your local music venue.