This ‘Kaiser Chiefs’ article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor

Combining a race day with a rock band is an interesting idea, and it’s exactly what Sandown Racecourse (and more broadly, The Jockey Club) have been doing with ‘An Evening at the Races’.

Action kicked off in the afternoon with what was for all intents and purposes a race day – there were 6 horse races, with spectators dressed accordingly and clutching their betting tickets.

But as soon as the last race finished, people flocked to the stage at the side of the grandstand to get a good spot for the concert that was about to start, none other than the Kaiser Chiefs. Diehard fans had of course decided to forgo the races entirely, instead vying for the best positions right in front of the stage. The stands behind were also filled with people, turning the racecourse into what felt like an outdoor stadium.

The Kaiser Chiefs burst onto the stage with a powerful rendition of their song The Angry Mob, which had the audience chanting along with fists purposefully raised in the air. It is always the audience’s duty in this song to actually be the angry mob, and the band’s enthusiasm made sure everyone felt they had something important to fight for.

By the second song, lead singer Ricky Wilson had warmed up enough to jump into the crowd during Everything is Average Nowadays. He stood leaning out into a sea of grasping hands and sang the majority of the song perched over the front row of the audience.

Wilson is an absolutely natural front man. His onstage antics are second-to-none; he is a skilled dancer, he can throw his microphone stand up in the air and catch the microphone as the stand crashes down, he picks up his tambourine by flicking it with his foot and then spins it around his fingers when he’s not playing it, he banters, he leads call-and-response routines … he engages so effectively with the audience, and his ability to leap across the stage while still having breath left to sing is admirable.

Halfway through their set as they ramped up into their old classic Na Na Na Na Na, the ‘Kaiser Chiefs’ banner that had been at the back of the stage suddenly dropped to reveal another banner with just ‘KC’ on it, which had a black and white pattern matching all the instruments onstage. Their live show was certainly well thought-out.

The Kaiser Chiefs’ songs lend themselves particularly well to sing-a-longs, and there was hardly a moment without a chorus of voices shouting all the words back at the band. In fact there are many moments in Kaiser Chiefs songs that are made up primarily of shouting voices, so this definitely fits well.

Unfortunately they didn’t play any songs from their fourth album The Future is Medieval, although all the other albums were represented. Since the audience seemed happy with the song choices, it is likely only purists may have been disappointed by the omission.

After leaving the stage, they were inevitably cheered back for an encore, which consisted of three songs. The encore finished with Oh My God, which was a brilliant climax to the night. Wilson ran across the stage launching streamers out into the audience that rained down around everyone, bringing added joy. As the song ended, Wilson apologised that they couldn’t keep playing all night, as they had to be off by 10pm. So he spent their last two minutes of allotted time conducting a huge sing-a-long to the chorus of their final song.

As everyone pushed and shoved to exit the pavilion at Sandown Racecourse at the end of the night, people were smiling, laughing and some were even singing the songs they’d just heard. The whole event was a memorable experience and proved that race days and rock music can go well together.

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LIVE MUSIC : Kaiser Chiefs – Sandown, Esher (6th August 2015)

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