Kaiser Chiefs’ Simon Rix on how Covid-19 provided a much-needed 'reset' for the group

The British band are revving up to hit the road again, with Abu Dhabi's Friday show one of their first stops

From left: Kaiser Chiefs members Simon Rix, Vijay Mistry, Ricky Wilson, Nick Baines and Andrew White. Photo: Club Social
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Abu Dhabi’s live events sector and the Kaiser Chiefs are both picking up where they left off — and the band is set to headline the opening night of the city's Club Social on Friday.

Originally scheduled to perform at the event in March 2020, the gig was derailed owing to the pandemic.

Club Social, one of the first multi-day music festivals in the capital, runs from Friday to Sunday at Yas Links. The event will also form part of the group's preparations for a UK arena tour beginning next month.

It's a rare chance for fans to witness the energetic band, responsible for indie-rock anthems such as I Predict a Riot and Ruby, in a relatively intimate fashion. However, this doesn’t mean it is a mere warm-up gig.

“That’s never the way we approach things,” bassist Simon Rix tells The National. “We have always been quite adamant in making every show our best.

“I remember, a few years back, we played a couple of shows in one day. The first was a small intimate one with about 200 people and the other in a festival that had 20,000 people and we played with the same energy in both gigs.”

Adding to that resiliency is relief and gratitude the Kaiser Chiefs feel for being back on the road again.

It was in the weeks leading up to the original Club Social date the band realised there was something wrong.

“We heard about Covid in the news and, of course, you think that this is far away from where you are,” Rix says.

“But then you start hearing of other tours being cancelled and then some of our shows were pushed back and then the Abu Dhabi show being cancelled. It was all a bit of a shock.”

The initial anxiety caused by career uncertainty eventually made way for a welcome period of reflection for the group.

“I hate to say this considering what happened with the pandemic, but the time off from performing and general things with the band was a break that we needed,” he says.

"For years we have been in that cycle of writing songs, recording, releasing the album and touring it. We did need some kind of reset and to do things at a more measured pace and not go as hard as before."

It was a work ethic formed during the adrenalin-filled days of the 2000s, when the Kaiser Chiefs formed in Leeds.

Originally under the name Parva, they went on to be part of the explosion of indie-rock bands alongside successful groups The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys.

Their knack for exuberant song-writing, coupled by frenzied live shows, saw the Kaiser Chiefs enjoy commercial and critical success, particularly with 2005 debut album Employment, which sold more than two million copies in the UK.

As one of the founding members of the band, Rix described those early days as intense.

"Things happen so fast that you really don't remember a lot of it because it all goes by in a blur," he says.

"We would be jumping from country to country, playing club gigs and festivals. In the middle of all that, we found the time to record new songs and make albums."

With the band now regarded in the UK as elder statesmen of that period — not to mention lead singer Ricky Wilson finding success on television as a host and former mentor of The Voice UK and face of an Abu Dhabi tourism campaign — Rix rates the Kaiser Chiefs success by their durability.

“There is that element of surviving it all,” he says. “Sometimes we would bump into bands from that period and we would share all these stories and we would realise how crazy those years were.”

And, with the music industry turning the corner from the disruption caused by the pandemic, Kaiser Chiefs are ready to make fans sing along again.

"We have a strong set of songs that people would know and sing and dance to," he says. "We are looking forward to these shows because I just feel that everyone wants to go out and have a great night and this is what we hope to give."

Kaiser Chiefs performs on Friday at Club Social, Yas Links, Abu Dhabi. Club Social runs from Friday to Sunday. Day tickets start at Dh125, a weekend pass for all three days is Dh435. Doors open at 7pm. More information is available at clubsocial.ae.

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Updated: October 27, 2022, 7:53 AM