News Column

Kaiser Chiefs rule in Pittsburgh debut

June 11, 2014

By Scott Tady, Beaver County Times, Pa.



June 11--PITTSBURGH -- The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival's free concerts allow for a looseness if the musical artists are willing.

Ricky Wilson certainly seized the opportunity Tuesday, with his quirky wit and spontaneity shining throughout the entertaining Pittsburgh debut of his English rock band, the Kaiser Chiefs.

Rock stars aren't known for their smarts, Wilson said, proving his point by peeling off the stage a long stretch of masking tape labeled with the word "Pittsburgh," as if he'd forget the city where he stood. Of course he knew where he was, Wilson said, making heads snap around as he motioned toward the roof of a building beyond Point State Park that brightly bore the city's name.

The festival's sounds and smells caught Wilson's attention, too.

When a female fan shouted it was her birthday, Wilson sprung off the stage and ran toward the railing to give her a hug. But that wasn't enough, so he scoured the stage for a gift, ultimately spotting a sandbag probably used to keep an electrical cord in place. He lugged the heavy sandbag to her, adding he'd be disappointed if he spotted it laying there after the show.

Wilson, 36, also confessed a temptation for the kettle popcorn odor wafting towards the stage. By show's end, a fan brought him an enormous family-sized bag of the popcorn, which Wilson cracked open and proffered to drummer Vijay Mistry, all the while keeping his focus singing the fast and intense moments of "The Angry Mob," a prototypical Kaiser Chiefs song in that it's spry, has a killer chorus, and is far better-known in their native U.K.

Also in that category are "I Predict a Riot" and the quartet's set-launcher "Every Day I Love You Less and Less," two festival standouts both from the band's glorious 2005 debut that Pittsburgh radio stations inexplicably neglected.

At least the festival's concert sponsors, 91.3-WYEP, play the Kaiser Chief's 2007 single "Ruby" -- which sparked a nice sing-along Tuesday -- and singles from the group's new album, "Education, Education, Education & War," a title Wilson admitted was a mouthful.

New album cuts like the blue-collar lament "The Factory Gates" and "Cannons" rocked out in the band's Franz Ferdinand-sort-of way.

Wilson is a coach on the BBC version of "The Voice," though there was little he could do halfway through the festival show when his vocals began to show fatigue. Even a red Solo cup of liquid from the band's trailer couldn't wash away the rasp. But he soldiered on, continuing to belt out songs enthusiastically while spinning around and amicably engaging the decent-sized audience.

By the time the Kaiser Chiefs got to 2005 fan favorite "Oh My God," a gaggle of teenagers had pushed their way toward a front corner of the stage to incite pogo dancing. It was hop up and down or be hopped on.

Wilson scaled the railing and ventured about 30 yards into the crowd, convincing everyone to crouch low as he dramatically sang the chorus "Oh my, God I can't believe it/I've never been this far away from home."

It was worth the trip, and the wait, for Kaiser Chiefs to finally play Pittsburgh. Wilson pledged they'd return if fans wanted them to. Obviously a warm rapport had been formed, evidenced by the encore Wilson introduced by saying his band was out of songs to play, so they dusted off a 2005 deep cut "Na Na Na Na Naa." It was an appropriately loose and joyous send-off that kept the crowd hopping 'til the final note.

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(c)2014 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)

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Source: Beaver County Times (PA)