Kasabian at First Avenue, 4/03/12

First Avenue, Minneapolis
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here.

Kasabian doesn't really do small. The English sextet have taken their towering U.K. arena rock show and crammed it into the clubs on their current American tour, and on Tuesday night at First Avenue the boys certainly woke up the somewhat sleepy crowd and rattled the walls a bit with a thunderous 85-minute performance. The Leicester group have hit the road in support of their adventurous fourth record, Velociraptor!, but the fiery 16-song set featured a good mix of both new and classic tracks from the band.

Kasabian certainly came out with guns blazing, opening the night with their raucous current single, "Days Are Forgotten," which found lead singer Tom Meighan exhorting the crowd to let themselves go (as he would all evening), "Come on Minn-e-sooo-ta, show me your fucking hands, c'mon!" After the song, he gave everyone a chance to catch their breath, and addressed the audience once again, "How are you tonight? It's fucking great to be back -- it's been far too fucking long!" (Nearly six years, in fact). And with that, the band launched into the hard-charging, "Shoot the Runner," and it was clear that even though it took the crowd a little while to wake up, the band had it in high gear straight from the start.

Kasabian at First Avenue, 4/03/12
Photo by Erik Hess

The title-track to the new record quickly followed, and featured some whip-crack vocals from Meighan and guitarist Sergio Pizzorno that were reminiscent of Jack White's cadence in the White Stripes' "The Hardest Button to Button." While "Where Did All the Love Go?" is imbued with a healthy dose of an Oasis-like sneer and confidence which only adds to the track's unruly allure.

Before the band launched into the Happy Mondays-esque pulse of "I.D.," Meighan again had some more lovably profane words of encouragement to the crowd, "Everyone in this fucking room, raise your fucking hands to the ceiling." And indeed, during parts of the show it seemed like Meighan was an MC as opposed to the lead singer of an English rock band, as he occasionally performed "One-two, one-two" mic checks and brought a cocksure swagger to their decidedly rhythmic rock sound. 

The band slowed things down considerably during a (thankfully) brief acoustic segment that featured "Thick As Thieves," to which Meighan added on a "People Are Strange" coda that proved how similar the melodies to the two songs are. Pizzorno took over lead vocals on the elegiac "Black Whistler," which he introduced by surprisingly mentioning: "I was about 14 when I lived in Minnesota for about three months. It was a place called Eden Prairie, have you heard of it? (Cheers) It was nice there. This one goes out to you lot."

The set was dragging just a bit, and needed a kickstart. And that is just what we got with the massive, roiling riffs of "Club Foot," which is an absolute beast of a live track. It really set the place off, and Meighan cheekily added a couple lines from the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" at the end of the number to give it some added intensity. But after such an exhilarating track, the next few numbers paled in comparison, and there clearly is a difference between Kasabian's big hits and their rather mundane songs, so "Re-Wired" and "Goodbye Kiss" both sounded tired after the incendiary "Club Foot."

Things picked back up in a major way with the dynamic "Fast Fuse" and "L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)" which brought the main set to a tempestuous, rowdy close. Pizzorno even stayed on stage as the band filed out, playing the catchy riff to "L.S.F." while getting the crowd to sing along with him. It was a unifying moment, which the band only built on during their truly explosive encore.

The massive wall of bass and the sinister electronic textures of "Switchblade Smile" proved to be one of the best moments of the entire show, and started the encore like a shot. "Vlad The Impaler" kept the energy level high, and allowed for Meighan to add one last tag, as he sang a few lines of the Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" as the song drew fitfully to a close. "Fire" brought the night to an energetic end, and as the crowd roared their approval, Meighan was on his knees, begging us "What more can we do to please ya? Let's do it again, it's the fuckin' reprise. We'll send you home nice, I promise." And he wasn't lying, Kasabian clearly sent us all home quite nice indeed.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I haven't seen Kasabian since their Fine Line gig with Mew in 2006, and I went to that show specifically for the openers. But they definitely impressed me tonight.

The Crowd: It was a sedate, Tuesday night crowd at first, but by the end of the night, everyone was bouncing around with a smile plastered on their face.

Overheard In The Crowd: "Black guitars are really cool."

Random Notebook Dump: The band was dressed all in black (along with Pizzorno's definitely cool black guitar), but Meighan had on the customary all-white trainers that UK guys simply love for some reason. It makes me chuckle.

Oh, and there was free cake (and sporks!) at the show in celebration of First Avenue's 42nd birthday. Happy Birthday, First Ave!!


Days Are Forgotten

Shoot The Runner



Where Did All The Love Go?


Thick As Thieves

Black Whistler

Club Foot


Goodbye Kiss

Fast Fuse

L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)

Switchblade Smile (Encore)

Vlad The Impaler (Encore)

Fire (Encore)

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