A celebration of the rise of British bands reaches its Reading pinnacle through Leicester band Kasabian. The crowd are tight, acoustics pitch perfect and the band are on top form as ‘Underdog’ leads and dancing varies in intensity with each word rippling through uninterrupted. During ‘Where Did All the Love Go’ frontman Tom Meighan tells the audience to look to the sky as high beams shine outwards to the inactive but threatening clouds above. Presumably his view is a little better. ‘Let’s Roll Like We Used To’ speedily moves the set along.
The days of playing in small suburban pubs to limited audiences seem a world away from the ferocious stage presence to tonight’s headline act. Green lighting gives way to a million white strobes criss-crossing in a frenzy of white noise. The spell is broken to the sound of Scatman‘s ‘beedub-o-dubo-dup’ which travels via audio Mexican wave across the field. A cheeky raise of the eyebrows and “I’ve always wanted to do that” clinch the moment and Kasabian move onto ‘Take Aim’. The deep, reaching, husky vocals of Serge Pizzorno are perfectly suited to the cool breeze of the post-downpour summer’s evening.
In the dark a quick clapping of hands builds, with spotlights revealing a swarm of wristband clad hands. The collections of wristbands many wear are indicative of the final phases of festival season, a time when bands really have to give it their all to impress – on this level, Kasabian are hitting all the right notes.
‘Serge’ follows and the searching spotlights reveal mid-crowd points have holes like swiss cheese left by puddles reminiscent of a downpour. This serves only to enhance the entertainment as large groups take the opportunity to dive backwards across the mud, fortunately there isn’t enough to drench their temporary neighbours. As if he can see from the stage, Meighan starts a “Mosh, Mosh, Mosh, Mosh!” chant. This he evidently finds amusing as he encourages army of skeleton heads peering up at him from the front of the crowd. (Presumably these are just masks, but they sure as hell look scary). This is clearly Meighan’s personal army as he himself is wearing a skeleton top. Perhaps he’s nurturing a collection of heads to select the most fitting at a later stage, one can only wonder.
The pace picks up with old favourites ‘Club Foot’ and ‘Empire’, which are received with jubilant but out-of-time sing backs from all directions. Taking a personal direction, Meighan dedicates Fatboy Slim‘s ‘Praise You’ to his “baby”. Despite shouts of “soppy bastard” and the like, everyone is up for a dance and warm-up for ‘LSF’. As expected, this has our full attention and the red, blue and white lights invoke the GB pride accumulated over the past few weeks. A thick belt of solid gold lighting takes hold as lyrics “I’m on it, get on it, THE TROOPS ARE ON FIRE!” are belted out to deafening levels. A bang in the centre of the field transpires to be a flame – these guys might not have been at the Olympic opening ceremony but they sure know how to close a day of great music at Reading festival.
The encore is perhaps unnecessarily long with one spectator commenting “are they trying to send us to sleep?” It may be prolonged but the return of Kasabian brings with it ‘Vlad the Impaler’ as the lights move in restrained wander before snapping to attention as “Get loose, Get loose” fills the air (regardless of which point the band are at). ‘Fire’ and a genuine thanks to the audience for propelling the band to this position in the bill is given – “I was 17 when we created a band. I’m 31 now, we did it!, Thank you”. Surprise final track is The Beatles‘ ‘She Loves You’ brings about an emotional climax as the band hug tightly.
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