Kasabian at Alexandra Palace review: Serge shines bright as the frontman

It’s been just over a year since Kasabian first took to the stage following singer Tom Meighan’s sudden and controversial departure. Meighan’s best mate, sidekick, and, not to mention, creative foil Serge Pizzorno was always a magnetic onstage presence, but the ease in which he has assumed the role as de facto frontman has probably been a little to everyone’s surprise.



If you were to reach for an analogy, it would be hard to look past Michael Corleone’s unlikely ascension in The Godfather – without the murders, of course.

It’s been a busy year for the Leicester group. The electro-rock thrust of album number seven, The Alchemist’s Euphoria, was greeted with positive notices following its release in the summer and the band has laid waste to stages across Europe, including high-profile slots at Knebworth supporting Liam Gallagher. Even so, there is to be no laurel-resting. To coin a phrase from their pal Liam, this indefatigable unit seem as ‘mad for it’ as ever. Imbued by this renewed sense of purpose in their post-Meighan era, they have headed out on an autumn jaunt around UK’s arenas.

In front of a sold-out Alexandra Palace, the talismanic Pizzorno emerged in an oversized leopard print coat and a pair of aviators, looking not unlike a fashion model who had ditched the brief and escaped the runway. The mosh pit was a frenzy; the chants were unremitting. Gesticulating furiously, the space-rock magus played enabler to the bedlam. With a trove of tunes at their disposal, Kasabian weren’t hesitant in giving the people what they wanted.


‘Club Foot’s’ bass line thrashed around like an unmanned chainsaw; ‘Underdog’s’ descending guitar line riff induced the sort of hysteria more familiar on a football terrace – in fact, the cavalcade of big beats and bludgeoning riffs were notable by their sheer number, and if the term ‘banger’ ever needs an indie-rock definition you’d almost expect it to have picture of Kasabian planted there.

Yes, Kasabian may lack a touch of subtlety; yes, they may not be delicate; but you can’t as hell ignore them. They’re a f***ing beast. “This is one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life and in my time on this planet,” admitted Serge to roars of approval. And although you could be forgiven for thinking this sounded like the glib pandering of a well-schooled rock star, it certainly seemed sincere.

The psychedelia that always undercut their more four-on-the-floor instincts are still there, but it must be said that they barely feature in the live set. If we create our own ten-point Kasabian energy scale – let’s call it the ‘Fire Scale’ in honour of their biggest tune – then this show barely dipped below a Fire Scale: 7. When it did, it was executed with a whiff of novelty.

“We’re going to take you way back to our first single, ‘Processed Beats’,” offered Serge, as acoustic guitars were donned, and the group played two unplugged numbers. For the second, ‘Cutt Off’, they even interpolated the iconic, corkscrew guitar riff of Stone Rose’s ‘Waterfall’ lest attention spans be waning. It was joyful all the same.


Elsewhere, highlights included the infectious throb of ‘You’re In Love with a Psycho’ (segueing neatly into a coda of Daft Punk’s ubiquitous ‘One More Time’), the glam stomp of ‘Shoot the Runner’ and a pummelling ‘Empire’. This thrilling show was an advert for the power of music as communion: an elixir of the most precious kind. It was also a reminder of what was temporarily lost in our COVID world and now, thankfully, is ours once more.

There is a quandary that Kasabian find themselves in, however. Pizzorno and co are crowd pleasers, no doubt, and while the punters made it clear they wanted wave after wave of big tunes, anyone with even the mildest interest in the band will know they aspire beyond being purely a soundtrack for big nights out. It’s a limiting box for them to be in and it may be something that weighs them down behind the scenes. But if this is a concern, they do well to hide it.

“If I could, I’d jump into the crowd and shake everyone’s hand,” Serge gushed in the wake of a penultimate, rafter-raising ‘LSF’. “That was insane man.” As the final notes of ‘Fire’ dissipated, and following a collective bow from the band, the frontman took a moment. Sitting cross-legged at the lip of the stage, he looked out and took everything in. The crowd didn’t leave until he departed. That’s some power right there. Kasabian Pt. II is already one hell of a sequel.

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