Cat Empire At The Prince Bandroom – 20-03-2013
WORDS: Alana Mazurke
Photos: Harriet Clair Tarbuck – https://www.facebook.com/harrietclaire
To say The Prince Of Wales was busy last night would be an understatement. For a Wednesday, the line-up at 8pm was already excessive, giving the apparent impression that Cat Empire fans were eager. Perhaps to drink or perhaps to see the ever entertaining Flap! who were set to take the stage at quarter past. Roughly fifteen or so minutes later the five piece entered the stage and admittedly my first thought was that I had entered some type of gypsy hideout, yet I came in with no expectations so anything went. The Prince Bandroom holds around 900 and already, there were at least 400 present to join me in witnessing Flap! kick off the night
I must commend the band for as soon as they started you felt their high level energy and excitement throughout which then transpired to the crowd. Playing a mixed set list of 1920’s sounding inspired jazz and swirly carnival folk to much adulation from patrons; I’m more than sure they made themselves a few new fans last night. Though not my kind of music perse; stage presence of the band and vocalists Jess Guille and Eamon McNelis ever present charms had high effect on my impressions.
Without too much delay, The Cat Empire returned to their well known dwelling that was the Prince Bandroom stage and opened the set with favoured single off their self titled album ‘Hard To Explain’. Notably the crowd loved it, however, their high intensity feedback was barely matched by the band as you really got a sense that they were they to play like a textbook and leave. Thankfully lead singer Felix was giving off a much better vibe and by the time the band had moved onto next single ‘Till The Ocean Takes Us All’ the rest had joined in and looked set to have fun. Not knowing a lot about the band, I felt like from what knowledge I did have, they were all about having a good time and making people enjoy their music. A few songs into the set and this had certainly been the case; I don’t think I saw one person stand still for the entirety of the set.
The stage was clad with lei’s and vines, draped over instruments and the decks of DJ Jamshid Khadiwala who I’m still pondering about exactly what it is he does for the sound other than literally shake his oversized maraca. Ollie McGill on the keys added a real nice live synth sound to the show and the exceptionally mixed fold back worked throughout the night kept the right level of similitude between the various instruments. My only noted flaws were that bassist Ryan Monro was often not loud enough – perhaps this is biased of me as I love loud bass, nevertheless he was playing some exceptional bass lines which should have been more audible and the fact that the horns section needed more front stage time.
Despite the dirty wife beater singer and trumpeter Harry J Angus was sporting last night, his ability to enlighten us of his talents all with that ridiculous voice of his was more than memorable. To be honest, I hadn’t thought twice of him as a singer, but during his performance of new single ‘Wild Animals’ I really stood still in my tracks. With the effortless flitting rhythms by drummer Will Hull- Brown masked with melodic keys and I guess you could call it tribal vibe of the percussion preceding the full flight of Angus’ mighty pitch; when he does really let go, it hits.
There was a fumble during ‘The Chariot’ but they recovered well and even still the crowds levels of enthusiasm and energy remained for the entirety of the set. Fans were treated to some new material off of Brighter Than Gold before its release in May including title track. Personal favourite of the night was single “Call me home’ off of The Black and White Album which really captured the whole atmosphere of the night. I feel the crowd needs just as much praise as the act itself when it comes to doing this write up, they made me notice the band even more; if a band can constantly play sold out show whilst attaining that amount of adoration throughout then there is obviously something there. Perhaps I just overlooked the genre itself, but I enjoyed what I saw. I wouldn’t not suggest going to their next show, that’s for true.