Supporting their recently-released second album Yours Truly, Angry Mob, England’s Kaiser Chiefs played a storming, triumphant set at the Kool Haus on Wednesday night. Their story isn’t new: having sold millions of albums in the UK and Europe, British band attempts to crack North America. For every Coldplay, there’s countless Pulps. But as so-called difficult second albums go, Yours Truly, Angry Mob seems to fare much better than average. Writing short-but-catchy pop-punk songs is never an easy proposition, but Angry Mob surely delivers at least a potential half-dozen radio-friendly singles, including current staple “Ruby.” And it takes a certain amount of bravado to title a song “Everything Is Average Nowadays,” especially if said song isn’t any good (It is). And so playing to 2,000 people in a sweaty nightclub in Toronto might not be quite the rush compared with a European festival gig to legions of adoring fans, but it certainly didn’t show in any lack of enthusiasm from the band.
Frontman Ricky Wilson’s boundless energy was surely able to win over some of the doubters in the audience. Pogoing to nearly every tune, the short-but-stoutish singer even ventured out to crowd-surf halfway to the soundboard and back while introducing his band mates. That’s one way to make it interesting. The rest of the band was as tight as bassist Simon Rix’s pair of had-to-be women’s jeans. But having struggled to inspire an early singalong, the young-at-the-front crowd warmed up quickly and let loose on the band’s biggest hit, “I Predict A Riot.” By the closer, the band’s debut single “Oh My God,” the entire place, with a little prodding from the immensely likable Wilson, seemed to be in full voice. An unlikely rock star perhaps, but Wilson embodies what so many of today’s North American frontmen sometimes seem to lack onstage – a personality.
Supporting the Kaiser Chiefs on this tour were The Walkmen, a New York-based indie band. They struggled to make a consistent impression, although the very nature of both bands ensures that the crowd-pleasing Kaisers will blow the more cerebral Walkmen off the stage on a nightly basis. Tough gig. But tell that to openers the Annuals, who didn’t even make it to the stage due to their van breaking down on the way from Montreal.
Photo by Carrie Musgrave.