Kasabian at Glastonbury Festival 2014 review

'Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat'

Kasabian at Glastonbury Festival 2014 review

Photographer: Shirlaine ForrestChris Eustace on 30 June 2020

Kasabian have always had more of a Spinal Tap element to them than most, and this continues into their Pyramid Stage headline slot, with their official t-shirt commemorating the show has them playing on "Saturday 29 June".

It's not that big a deal in the end - there's plenty of people here who don't know what day it is, after all, but as the timer on the video screen - mimicking the artwork for the band's new album '48:13' gets down to zero and frontman Tom Meighan emerges in a white James Bond-style suit, the pressure's on. They'd long wondered aloud why they haven't had this opportunity before, but a clumsy 'bumblebee' fumbles the start, and even horn and string sections can't seem to get 'Shoot The Runner' to fly.

"This is why you came," insists Tom before 'Underdog', but this confidence begins to look misplaced as 'Fast Fuse', turned from gonzoid punk into almost a Celtic reel, fails to fire, and the attention spans of all but the hardcore at the front start to wane. Not even the "everyone's on bugle/we're being watched by Google" ridiculousness of 'eez-eh' can quite get people back onside.

Guitarist Serge Pizzorno appears to sense this, adding in lines from 'Jump Around' and 'The Message' to songs and doing his best to inject some urgency when it's his turn to take the mic for an acoustic cover of Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' and a frantic 'Take Aim'.

'Club Foot' comes next and finally kicks things into life - it's got everything the set to this point was lacking: power, bite, menace, and a crowd totally engaged and ready to jump about. "Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey" smiles Tom at the song's end, so it's likely even he knows they were losing them.

Now though, with the band on the same page as the audience, there's no stopping them. The puffed-out chest chanting of 'Re-Wired' and the rave-rock of new album standout 'Treat' lead into an epic 'Empire', the strings helping to create a wall of sound that makes everyone take a step back.

The band invite associate Rick Graham onstage to sing 'Happy Birthday' to him, and the feeling of victory snatched from the jaws is complete with 'Fire' getting the biggest Pyramid Stage crowd reaction of the day. There's flares burning between the flags, and the pogoing can be seen right to the back, with everyone using the falsetto chorus to serenade the band as they stride offstage.

If 'Switchblade Smiles' is a messy way to start the encore, a furious 'Vlad The Impaler', which sees Noel Fielding, in character as the titular hero, cavorting onstage, and a closing 'L.S.F.,' morphing into life from a quick cover of Fatboy Slim's 'Praise You' and sung by the crowd even after the band have departed the Pyramid for good, more than make up for it.

Whether it was nerves, the fact that the new songs are from an album that's not even a month old, or that the band tried so hard to make this an event that they forgot what they do best, the first half of Kasabian's set was curiously underpowered, and after the Arcade Fire and Metallica headline sets, in danger of being a serious anti-climax. Thankfully, they turned it around in the nick of time to eventually give Glastonbury the send-off it needed for another year.


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