Four albums in and Kasabian look, sound and feel like the ultimate modern rock band. Flown in especially for this Melbourne-only appearance thanks to some deep corporate pockets, it’s hard to tell how the evening might unfold. Pondering conversations online and in the actual line outside seem to suggest that much of the set would be made up of the new album, their fourth, Velociraptor. But as lead singer Tom Meighan tears into the opening track, the filthy guitar riff from early hit Club Foot storms its way around the Docklands venue followed by the turbo charged beats of the rapturous Where Did All the Love Go? and it becomes clear that tonight’s performance is going to be a quintessential ‘crowd pleaser’ – some newer stuff, some old stuff and the favourites out in full force.
Time has not softened these men – the cocky swagger and lary bravado remain as compelling as ever. After being kept waiting for an empty hour before the gig starts, the crowd are ravenous, frenzied by the sense of defiance and rebellion with which Kasabian mark their territory. Plastic cups are launched into the air, streams of beer trailing behind them as edgy looking bouncers crane their necks in a hopeless attempt to trace the trajectory back to the culprit. Kasabian live are a formidable force and the new material goes down well. Rewired has a killer chorus hook that gets everyone singing along, even if the rest of the song is a tad too familiar. The marching drums, funk guitar and a half voodoo half shrieking alley cat tribal chant of Days are Forgotten also holds its own in amongst the hits. Certainly the new material shows us a band not afraid to try something different. Despite how good they are at it, Kasabian always had the potential to break free from the ‘lad rock’ tag. Goodbye Kiss – a clear cut love song, has a retro feel and tempo and, while it might not trigger as much reaction down on the dance floor, is delivered with heart and sensitivity as Meighan and band mate Sergio Pizzorno belt out some beautiful vocal harmonies. Similarly, when Meighan goes “off for a drink” and Pizzorno steps up to do Take Aim on his own, we see yet another string to this band’s bow in the form of this mesmerising guitarist who looks like one of your dad’s mates 30 years ago.
Coming back to the stage and announcing triumphantly that “This one’s for you Melbourne”, Meighan launches into Underdog, bringing the intensity of the gig back up to the brim. As loose limbs flay out from the mass of beer-drenched bodies in front of him, Meighan’s chicken head bops back and forth in time to the beat, smiling satisfaction filling his face. The pulsating electronic synth riff of Switchblade Smiles pulls the boys back on stage for an encore and we’re finished off with Fire, a jacked up, psychedelic anthem with a unforgettable chorus that people are still whistling as they head for the exit and out into the night beyond.