Everyone in Leeds knows one of the Kaiser Chiefs, or knows someone who does, don’t they?, writes YEP columnist Dave Kelly.
We all know the hits, and you can’t fail to have seen The Voice with Leeds’ own Ricky Wilson. They are one of the biggest bands of the past decade, well known for sing-along anthems.
For me, it goes a bit deeper. Years ago I hung out in the same studio they used to practice in when I was working with various young bands at the time. And, through our mutual love of football and gigs, I started knocking about with Nick Hodgson, the drummer.
Over the years we have become really good friends, attended funerals, stag dos, mad nights out and followed Leeds United, having some cracking times and incredible gigs.
I look back at these times and I’m happy to say I was involved, albeit on the side-lines (think Molly Sugden’s bridesmaid!). I made the tea in the studio, sat in on practices and was the first to hear some of the first songs off the second album. And what a privilege it was!
Leeds has changed as a city over the last decade. Call Lane was the place to be. Oporto was king. If you know, you know. Now, I’m 40 in a few weeks and drink in pubs like The Angel, where its more about having a craic with the lads than hanging around looking cool.
Saturday’s LUFC centenary gig was surprising in that the energy and showmanship was still up there with the best. They can still smash a great gig out, they still have the magic and - to quote Retirement - with “a tear in my eye, with a heart full of pride”.
Read more: Crowd photos from the Kaiser Chiefs concert at Elland Road
I watched the show with my two kids in the West Stand.
This is a chance for a new generation of fans to get involved and Duck seems to be making all the right noises for me. Elland Road saw the return of a bit of magic that’s been missing from Leeds’ music scene for a few years.
When The Cockpit closed we lost an institution. Although O2 Academy has good gigs, you’ll never get the buzz of Brighton Beach and Hallelujah in there, sticking to the floor and coming out two stone lighter! As a city Leeds has lost more than it’s gained in terms of good venues, from New Roscoe to The Duchess, Trash and, my personal favourite, Joseph’s Well.
Let’s be right about this, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you who is in the top ten these days! I’ll leave that to my 12 year-old daughter. But what I can say is that the lads who started out as Parva have not reached their limit just yet, the latest album will confirm that.
Certain bands come in and out of fashion. For some it’s not cool to like bands that have been around for a bit. Everyone seems to be seeking out the next big thing. Like every flash in the pan, longevity in music is a rare thing these days.
With a change in line-up when NH did leave, they recruited Vijay Mistry from Club Smith, another staple of the Leeds music network, who brought his own energy to live performances.
Am I biased about the chiefs? Of course I am! They have put the work in and toured non-stop for years, but are still comfortable having a few beers in The Oak, happy to chat with fans after gigs and are still down to earth as they always were.
Everyone who has been in and out of bands in Leeds will all have tales to tell, but what we all have in common is great memories of a Leeds music scene as vibrant as it was diverse.
Leeds is historically rich with musical talent. Every generation has its musical heroes. In the late ‘70s it was Gang of Four. The ‘80s saw The Wedding Present while the ‘90s saw Britpop rivalry between Blur and Oasis help shape the identity of Parva who, after a rethink, went on to become Kaiser Chiefs. Employment went mega and the rest is history.
Read more: The 13 albums Leeds gave the world
The last bastion flying the flag well seems to be mighty Brudenell Social Club. I remember one drunken night in there, after a young lad’s christening about 20 years ago, chatting to Nathan and discussing how bands could make use of the main room. There were bingo prizes all over the stage. The future for the club looked uncertain.
The baby in question now works behind the bar there. Just look how well Nath and the team have transformed it into undeniably best venue in the city, if not the north. But that’s another story!
First Direct Arena has had some massive acts. Bands in time become stalwarts, disappear or become legends. How many guitarists in bands today started out covering Riot only to go onto success with their own bands making their own mark?
This is a band that is part of the fabric of the city which, as much as anyone, deserves recognition for its contribution to Leeds, popular culture and for giving a generation music to grow up to.