“Are we on the same page, Leeds?” enquires a bow-tied Ricky Wilson, gazing out on the tens of thousands of fans gathered for his band Kaiser Chiefs’ third headline show in 11 years at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground.
“We’re talking about 100 years we’ve got to cheer for,” he says in reference to the football club’s centenary, which this gig, with a string of guests including The Vaccines, The Sherlocks and Gaz Coombes, has been organised to mark. Indeed they’re preceded onstage by former footballer Chris Kamara, singing Marching On Together.
In fitting tribute to their beloved Whites, the Kaisers turn in the set of their lives, boldly beginning with a new song, People Know How To Love One Another, before reminding everyone of just how many hits they have delivered over the last 16 years.
“We are the Kaiser Chiefs, we have been sent to entertain you...and we will,” Wilson says after a pounding Never Miss A Beat gives way to another terrace anthem, Everything Is Average Nowadays.
Another early song, Na Na Na Na Naa, brims with youthful urgency and by its climax an enthusiastic crowd is showered in streamers blasted from cannons at the front of the stage.
Golden Oldies is one of four songs from the band’s forthcoming seventh album, Duck, aired tonight – and the Kaisers’ faith in the new record appears well-founded. All of the new tracks are blessed with a melodic surefootedness and strong choruses.
After Factory Gates and Parachute Wilson sprints from the stage through the audience and climbs the steps to a platform over the mixing desk before delivering Modern Way while looking back at his bandmates Simon Rix, Andrew White, Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines and Vijay Mistry, 50 yards away. It’s a moment of showmanship which the 41-year-old does well.
“This feels better than I thought it would, and I thought it would be pretty f***ing good,” he notes breathlessly. So good, in fact, that he remains up there, with one leg draped precariously over the fence while singing the slower Target Market.
The stately pace is retained through Love’s Not a Competition (But I’m Winning) but then, as dusk falls, the set cranks up a gear with the excellent, synth-driven new single Record Collection and a barnstorming Hole in My Soul.
Rattling versions of Every Day I Love You Less and Less and Ruby follow, but Wilson insists “that was your warm up”. The stages explodes in colour for I Predict a Riot and Angry Mob, then the band round off with Retirement, which ends in a plume of smoke.
The Kaisers are not done yet, though. A rousing encore of Coming Home, The Who’s Pinball Wizard and Oh My God sends the crowd home in high spirits. If Wilson sounds a little hoarse by the end, it’s forgiveable. He, and the band, have played a blinder.