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There is an air of curious excitement around the O2 Academy this evening, as Kasabian return for their first gig without former frontman Tom Meighan. Upon the announcement that the Meighan had left in July 2020, following charges of domestic abuse, it left the future of the band in the balance, until the announcement of an intimate (by their standards) UK tour earlier this year.
Details of how they were intending to carry on without their lead singer were scarce, with the only indication of what to expect being that they would be “playing all the classic tunes plus something new for the mosh pit to bounce to”. The initial consensus was that Pizzorno would assume lead vocal duties, however recent rumours circulated that The Music’s Rob Harvey would be joining the group.
The prospect of a Meighan-less Kasabian is interesting. An imperious presence onstage, the band centred around the double act of him and guitarist Serge Pizzorno, but it was Meighan’s larger than life vocal which made their hits the indie classics they have since become.
All is revealed when the band take to the stage and ensure they get the crowd onside immediately with a thundering ‘Club Foot’. Pizzorno immediately quashes any doubts over his role, as he prowls across the stage, shorn of his instrument for most of the evening. As rumoured, Rob Harvey is onstage with band, but takes over on backing vocals and guitar duties leaving the new frontman to hog the limelight.
They waste no time in diving into ‘Ill Ray’ and a magnificent ‘Underdog’. Pizzorno rallies his crowd like a fairground ride MC, constantly demanding the crowd to go wild and calling for a mosh pit on a stratospheric ‘Bumblebee’. His adoring public deliver and proceed to chant every word back at him throughout the evening.
After a fantastic ‘Fast Fuse’, momentum is briefly lost during a subdued ‘I.D’ and ‘Ladies & Gentlemen (Roll The Dice)’. Kasabian have always been more imaginative than their lad-rock contemporaries, but ultimately are at their best when they go full-throttle anthemic and get back on track with an incredible ‘Empire’. Performed this evening, it sounds humongous as foot-stomping verses give way to the epic chorus. The crowd go next-level berserk both on this, and on main set closer ‘Vlad The Impaler’, with its infectious “get loose, get loose” hook.
After a brief encore break, which the crowd spend chanting “Super John McGinn”, after the recent exploits of the national football team, the band return with ‘God Bless This Acid House’. Kasabian end the show strongly with two of their biggest songs. The rousing chorus of ‘L.S.F’ is magical, but there is a more melodic sensibility on the verses preceding it, giving new life to one of their biggest hits. Pizzorno laps up the adoration from his audience before the mad scenes which ensue on set closer ‘Fire’. T-shirts, jackets and pints are launched in the air (an airborne shoe is also spotted) as every tier of the venue bounces along.
There was a lot riding on this for Kasabian this evening. With the pressures of how they would fare without Meighan, and a year of festival headline shows and stadium-sized support slots with Liam Gallagher already pencilled in, there was little margin for error. The show this evening was, however, a triumph. There may not have been the new material like they hinted at, but the most important thing for Kasabian: Mark Two was to ensure their supporters stayed onside. With a show delivered with the more energy and panache than ever, there is little doubt that they will remain one of the biggest bands in the UK for some time to come yet.
A photo gallery of the show is available to view at the following link (All Photographs courtesy of Stewart Iain Fullerton Photography):
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