After watching Cats In Space tonight I commented to my wife that the most impressive thing about the performance is the fact that the band are so musical. This may sound like a strange comment, surely all bands are musical? My take on this though is that any band, indeed anyone, can create music but it takes something more to be truly musical.
Punk bands created music, a child with a recorder can create music and even I can string a few chords together on the guitar and call it music. To be musical however means having the ability to write and perform music of real substance.
Excellent melodies played by musicians who really understand their instruments and who have the talent to stray from the the straight forward 4/4 rhythm. Throw in perfectly recreated four part harmonies and you have something that is a cut above the average, something that makes you wonder how a ginger busker ended up headlining Glastonbury…
Given that this was a Monday night there was a fair sized crowd in the G2 showing that the word is spreading about Cats In Space and with the release of their excellent second album ‘Scarecrow’ this will only continue. First up tonight though were Australian rockers KATTO, unfortunately I only caught the tail end of the guys’ set through a thick sea of dry ice.
Bare-chested frontman Kurt Lowney cut a sinewy figure stage front looking every inch the rock star. The band sound like a glam rock Aerosmith and went down well with the crowd. Playing songs from their self titled album and throwing in a cover of the rock n roll classic ‘Bony Moronie’ for good measure the guys left their mark. They left the stage to a huge cheer, job done.
The title music from 70’s favourite The Sweeney heralded the arrival of Cats In Space to the stage. Kicking things off with ‘Too Many Gods’ it quickly became clear that this was going to be a good night. This was followed by the first track of the night from the new album ‘Scarecrow’ namely ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party’ which melds clever and witty lyrics with catchy harmonies, always a good combination.
The set was a good mix of new and older tracks from both the band’s albums. Vocalist Paul Manzi has a great voice and his theatrical delivery suits the music well. ‘Last Man Standing’ and ‘Unfinished Symphony’ both highlighted the twin guitar talents of Greg Hart and Dean Howard, the latter on stage despite suffering a heart attack just before the tour. Manzi later dedicated the song Mr Heartache to Dean which raised a laugh!
Not to be outdone by Kaato, Cats In Space also played a choice cover version. This time we were treated to the old Slade classic ‘How Does It Feel’ which was a perfect fit for the set. The guys added their own flair to the track with a very heavy mid section led by the bass of Jeff Brown. The heavy theme continued with a rocking version of ‘Broken Wing’, again complete with an excellent twin guitar attack which brought the set to a fitting climax.
After a couple of minutes keyboard wizard Andy Stewart returned to the stage for a virtuoso solo piano piece before he was rejoined by the rest of the band. Jeff Brown then took the vocal lead on the epic track ‘Greatest Story Never Told’. If you want to give someone a taste of who Cats In Space are then this track perfectly demonstrates what the band are capable of.
The set was finally brought to a close with the crowd favourite ‘Five Minute Celebrity’, again another song with witty lyrics focusing on the many shows churning out the latest batch of fresh faced teens looking to make it in music business.
This brings me nicely back to my opening muse. People can churn out music and ultimately they may achieve their 15 minutes of fame. To survive and grow beyond that though you need something more and Cats In Space have that special ‘something’ in spades.
As we walked out the PA was playing the Disney classic ‘Everybody Wants To Be A Cat’ and after another purrfect night with Cats In Space who am I to disagree.
words – dave wilson