At one point in the latter half of the sold-out performance of the Kaiser Chiefs at the 9:30 Club, singer Ricky Wilson swung from the stage to the stage left bar, where he promptly reviewed his drink options and ordered a shot of Jameson.
Before consuming said shot (while still standing on the bar), Wilson reminisced on how he did a similar thing in his last visit to the 9:30 Club two years ago, when he swung to the bar to pull himself a beer from the taps.
The audience, of course, ate it up. Wilson and the Kaiser Chiefs delivered exactly what they sought in both antics and music — a lot of energy, a big dash of rowdiness and the occasional cheeky flourish.
The band opened its set with “The Factory Gates” from its cool new album, Education, Education, Education and War, revisiting a familiar theme in their songs — perhaps there is more to life than being a drone or “part of the crowd.” Indeed, many of the new songs were really strong songs, sitting atop the best of the Kaisers’ catalog, in my opinion. New songs “Coming Home” and “Meanwhile Up in Heaven” offer some slower moments of reflection while “Ruffians on Parade” and “Misery Company” provide fuel for frenetic sing-alongs and dancefloor stomping, laughing (literally in the case of “Misery Company”) in the face of danger with a devil-may-care flair.
Together with new drummer Vijay Mistry, the quintet was in fighting form and ready for just about anything. After the first song, a technical problem took down the keyboards of Nick “Peanut” Baines, but Wilson bantered his way into a song the Kaiser Chiefs could play without the keyboards — “Na Na Na Na Naa,” another song of defiance from their 2005 debut album, Employment.
The band also played the songs you would hope they would play, including “Every Day I Love You Less and Less,” “Little Shocks,” “Never Miss a Beat,” “Ruby,” and “I Predict a Riot.” In their encore, the Kaiser Chiefs played “Meanwhile” and “Oh My God,” which led to Wilson wading out into the audience to sing from the middle of the room while coaching a sing-along to the song’s refrain — “Oh my god, I can’t believe it/I’ve never been this far away from home.”
After appearing at the 9:30 Club, the Kaiser Chiefs took their show to the Firefly Music Festival (in Dover, Del.), where they performed on Saturday, June 21 in a similarly powerful set. They played a one-hour set, trimming some of the songs from about 17 to 12 and skipping new song “Bows & Arrows.” While the Firefly set still drew heavily from the Kaisers’ first album, it dropped “Na Na Na Na Naa” and “Everything Is Average Nowadays,” both performed at the 9:30 Club.
Much of the Firefly crowd gathered at the festival’s lawn stage was clearly familiar with the band, and they shouted out to the choruses and moshed politely as appropriate. Wilson interacted as much as he could, stepping out the security fence for a song and singing directly into the camera that was projecting the concert on a digital screen for those farther away from the stage.
Sadly, the Kaiser Chiefs have left the country to take their tour to Europe and beyond. But they put on a dependably excellent show every time they come through if you’re looking for your dose of new wave-infused rock.