Review: ‘Kaiser Chiefs’

If confidence alone sold albums, Kaiser Chiefs would be at the top of the charts. That's not the case, but the Leeds, England, quintet also have tons of personality and the ability to craft indelibly catchy pop. At the Avalon Saturday night, they ran through their B-Unique/Universal debut, "Employment" -- arguably the best Britpop album released this year -- with a brash charm and cheeky attitude.

If confidence alone sold albums, Kaiser Chiefs would be at the top of the charts. That’s not the case, but the Leeds, England, quintet also have tons of personality and the ability to craft indelibly catchy pop. At the Avalon Saturday night, they ran through their B-Unique/Universal debut, “Employment” — arguably the best Britpop album released this year — with a brash charm and cheeky attitude.

The songs are a collection of restless slices of youthful nightlife, “Saturday Night” on the town (complete with a description of mod style right out of Pete Townshend), lads going down the pub or to the football, drinking, flirting and fighting; nothing too serious or deep. They cast their net wider than their contemporaries, salting the tunes with references to the Kinks, Roxy Music, Blur, “Sound Affects”-era Jam, the Stranglers, Merseyside ballads (“You Can Have It All” could be a lost Billy J. Kramer single) and the Who (“Time Honoured Tradition” recalls John Entwistle’s “Boris the Spider”).

But for all their self-confidence, Kaiser Chiefs never turn arrogant. They’re having a smashing time onstage and want to make sure you join in. At the end of the show, every member of the band walks the lip of the stage, handing out souvenirs to the aud — drum sticks, guitar picks, a copy of the set list, etc. It’s a sweet gesture that makes this already winning band even more likable.

Singer Ricky Wilson works the crowd like a pro, leaping around the stage, taking a head-first leap into the aud during “I Predict a Riot,” pulling a girl onstage for “Born to Be a Dancer,” tossing his mic and wading into the crowd. He’s not worried about the reaction; he knows he’s a star. He’s just waiting for everyone else to reach the same, inevitable conclusion.

Kaiser Chiefs play New York’s Webster Hall on July 21.

Kaiser Chiefs

The Avalon; 1,500 capacity; $20

Production

Presented by Avalon Attractions and KROQ. Reviewed June 11, 2005.

Cast

Band: Ricky Wilson, Nick Hodgson, Andrew White, Simon Rix, Peanut.
Also appearing: OK Go, Jason Falkner.
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