Leeds' favourite sons Kaiser Chiefs bring a riot to the Northern Meeting Park, Inverness with a slew of hits including Ruby, I Predict a Riot and Oh My God as part of LCC's Live in the City concert series
Northern Meeting Park, Inverness
- KAISER CHIEFS INTERVIEW: read our chat with bass player Simon Rix.
- MADNESS FOR LIVE IN THE CITY: the next big gig for Inverness – full details
“YOU can scream, Inverness – but can you sing?” Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson asks the Northern Meeting Park crowd at one point, shortly before the Leeds band tear into a full-throated version of their chant-along anthem Na Na Na Na Naa.
At a gig like this, the Highland capital certainly can, ignoring the slight chill in the air and the rain that had started falling to chant back every single word – even if half of those words were the titular “na”s.
But then, any crowd would be in fine voice at a Kaiser Chiefs show. The Leeds band have built a lasting musical career on big choruses and deceptively easy hooks to bring their crowds with them wherever they go.
And fronted by a showman like Ricky Wilson, they had this crowd eating out of their hand during their slick, professional and “all killer no filler” 80-minute set.
Just as slick, if perhaps less manic, were openers Miracle Glass Company, whose 60s throwback rock – think slightly curdled Cream – helped get the crowd moving. There’s a laconic cool about the Edinburgh three-piece that can mask just how talented a group of musicians they are – with tight interplay and shared lead vocal duties.
However if Miracle Glass Company were laid back, then second band The LaFontaines were anything but. A furious, energetic set from the Motherwell rap/rock fusion trio crackled fire into the cold bones of the crowd, as Kerr Okan split the roles of frontman and hype man effortlessly to whip the Northern Meeting Park into a sole-shuffling, fist-pumping frenzy.
Prowling the stage spitting bars and casual swear words – “I’m from Motherwell, this is how we talk” Kerr jokes – reaching out to the crowd across the barrier and – in one inspired bit – clambering over it to join the crowd themselves, their set was a perfect support slot.
It would be almost impossible to match that level of energy, but Kaiser Chiefs don’t need to.
From Ricky’s introduction of the band – “We are the world famous Kaiser Chiefs!” – and opening chords of People Know How to Love One Another, the crowd go wild for them.
It helps that the Leeds lot have their own crackling ball of energy in frontman Ricky, who constantly moves and scurries across the stage throughout their bouncing set. He jumps, he hurls the microphone stand into the air, he flicks his tambourine up with his feet to catch it with his hand – an impressive moment of dexterity.
And he really is a natural frontman. There’s a slickness and varnish to how he conducts the crowd – one imagines that his cajoling and sing-along encouragements and applauding of the fans at particular moments might have been done at the exact same moments in the exact same cadences at the previous night’s show in Montrose.
When he’s cajoling the crowd into such easy and joyous sing-alongs though, it doesn't matter too much if he repeats himself. Ruby, Angry Mob and I Predict a Riot sound massive with a backing choir of 4500 delighted punters.
It’s perhaps a tired cliché, but there was definitely a festival atmosphere to proceedings – all smiling faces in cagoules sitting on shoulders, waving cans and screaming along with every word.
And by the time of the encore – a welcome cover of Pinball Wizard, the manic passionate chorus of Oh My God and the blast of a ticker-tape cannon fired from Ricky's hands – that delight was more important than any rain. Summer was here, and it sounded great.
All pictures: Callum Mackay