Kaiser Chiefs, Brixton Academy, London

The sea of heads becomes a throbbing, writhing mass in time to the swinging bassline, and as if in a flash it's all over.

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Date: 26 Oct 2005 | By Debra Bonnington | Rating: 4
Kaiser Chiefs, Brixton Academy, London

The NME O2 Rock n' Roll Riot tour has arrived in South London, and there's no doubting that as The Cribs crash on to the stage, there's a hint of early Libertines about them. Each song is catchy without becoming annoying; all likely to be hummed on the train home.

With their scruffy attire and undefined edges, they're almost a fresh breath of somewhat smoky air when compared to the other band's suited-and-booted approach. With cigarette in mouth and guitar in hand, Ryan Jarman is definitely here to be noticed - not easy for a band first on the bill - but he and brothers Gary and Ross have made a name for themselves over the past eighteen months, and are proud of their connections with fellow Yorkshiremen Kaiser Chiefs.

Maximo Park continue with a monumental set which has the entire crowd moving. It was as though the headmaster had appeared in front of his assembly; all eyes on Paul Smith, secretly wanting to look away but not daring to as Smith flings his body around the stage like a theatrical karate puppet. Whilst his banter was on the unsteady side, sometimes fumbling, his performance was on top form. "We thought we'd made a pop album", he shouts, and they sure have, but never for the worse. Even tracks such as 'Fear of Falling' and 'Waste-Land', unknown to the majority of onlookers, are definite crowd-pleasers. The venue is filled with thrashing bodies on a pre-empted breakbeat, causing Smith's banter to grow in strength, making light of his own error "that was possibly the longest intro to a song... ever. Hands together people, you've just witnessed the making of a world record". This was possibly the defining moment of their set: the combination of crowd interaction and thrusting anthems are what has taken the 'Park on their high-speed journey to the top.

Finally tonight's headliners Kaiser Chiefs appear, but not before a spoof promotional film for the capital, accompanied by the tooting sounds of Dire Straits' 'Money For Nothing'. This is possibly the greatest - and most drawn-out - entrance ever, but as soon as the synths of 'Saturday Night' begin, the crowd are killing each other. "If the roof's still here by the end, I don't wanna be here!" - it would be cheesy coming from anyone's mouth but cheeky Ricky's, as would the romantic serenade during 'You Can Have It All'; Jade was tonight's lucky girl, treated to a short dance around the stage, under the envious eyes of every other female in the Academy.

There's no doubt in anyone's mind (as Ricky brings it to our attention), that the Chiefs have come a long way since they played here last - first up on a bill of four. Their sound has grown along with the size of venues they headline and will no doubt continue to expand. Frontman Ricky's disappearance off stage caused a flurry of excitement in the crowd - "he's just gone for a wee" exclaims drummer Nick. Then word gets around, and excited squeals point to the back of the venue where he can clearly be seen perched on the sound desk as part of the monumental build-up to 'Take My Temperature', a b-side and instant anthem.

A live premier of their Help: A Day In The Life cover of the Marvin Gaye classic 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' starts the encore, and fans are made to wait until the very end to hear the song that started it all. After screams of exclamation, finally 'Oh My God' is released upon the Brixton crowd, and its effect never fails to humble. The sea of heads becomes a throbbing, writhing mass in time to the swinging bassline, and as if in a flash it's all over. Too soon for most here tonight, except perhaps the band, who've worked their storming pop socks off and can now rest... until tomorrow, that is when they're to do it all again.