Say what you want about Kasabian – yeah, not everyone likes the lad culture that comes as part of the package, and yeah the wired crowd at the Bristol O2 Academy on Wednesday night did merrily chant ‘football’s coming home’ at every available opportunity – but they know how to put on an incredible show.
Following support from Welsh boys Trampolene – led by charismatic lead singer and spoken word artist Jack Jones, also on-the-road poet for The Libertines, who performed for us a John Cooper Clarke-esque poem called Ketamine – lights went out and Puccini/Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma began to blare out, a sign of the epic main event about to commence.
With the Brit rockers now more accustomed to playing huge stadiums, the chance to see them in a more intimate venue such as this was snapped up in seconds by fans, so tickets to the warm-up West Country show ahead of their main slot at Isle of Wight festival were hot to the touch. Out came the Kasabian boys, kicking off with the upbeat Ill Ray from the latest album and bonafide big tune Bumblebee from 48:13, both of which saw almost everyone in the lower half of the room leaping up and down in chaotic unison. From the off, and throughout, it was the liveliest we’d ever seen the Academy; looking upon those gathered before the stage was like watching a Glastonbury VT with the mass movement appearing as euphoric slow motion at points.
As, indeed, festival prep was the order of the day, it was an all-killer-no-filler kind of set. “This is going to be an endurance test,” warned songwriter and guitarist Serge, to the delight of the roaring, frenetic crowd. “Banger after banger after banger…”
No word of a lie; the next 20 minutes or so saw the time-honoured, anthemic likes of Underdog and Shoot the Runner chased up by recent popular tracks Eez-eh (cue new crowd chant) and You’re In Love With A Psycho; and a veritable joyride through fan favourites such as Re-Wired from fourth album Velociraptor, Club Foot, Empire and Treat. The latter, the seven-minute centrepiece of 48:13, descended stylishly into its ice-cool, disco-flecked electronic outro and paved the way for Switchblade Smiles, the band delivering all the swagger required of them and only pausing to sing Happy Birthday to Bristol-born drummer Ian Matthews, who was celebrating in his hometown.
Weaving in a cover of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You, they launched into their last official offering L.S.F, singer Tom Meighan laughing to himself in disbelief at the wild abandon of the Bristol reception.

Kasabian’s music may no longer be as much in the mainstream as it was once upon a time, but this was a show that put paid to any perception that the band itself is past its best. As they rapturously declared in their very final song, after a cracking encore of Comeback Kid and Vlad the Impaler, they’re still on fire…

Words by Amanda Nicholls