Artist: Cats In Space
Venue: Frome, Cheese and Grain
Date: 23 September 2023
"I genuinely would put this gig up there, quality-wise, with Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ tour or even Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ tour, both of which I witnessed. Just shy of two and a half hours of perfect music, played with passion and talent by five guys who took time after to say hello and sign shit."
It’s been a few years since I saw Cats In Space in the flesh, in which time they’ve released a few albums and gained a new singer in the shape of Damian Edwards. It’s my first time in Frome, the sort of Somerset town that should have a wicker man stored for emergencies, and not only is it carnival night but there’s a full blown funfair right outside the venue. Yes, it’s a weird night, but onwards and upwards, and it’s been nice to see a few Cats In Space shirt wearers about town throughout the day.
The venue is nice enough, a mini hangar interior that has plenty of room for a decent crowd. It soon becomes apparent, though, that we aren’t going to have to squeeze in because amazingly the place is about one fifth full. On the plus side there’s plenty of room to move around, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who is gutted for the band and astonished that an act of this quality doesn’t have to turn people away.
Enough of the lack of crowd, though, as those that are there really try their best to make up for it, and boy do they succeed. There are many happy noises and the band come out first to play through their most recent cat-tastic release ‘Kickstart The Sun’, which is thing I’ve only seen The Wildhearts do in the past. Album opener ‘King Of Stars’ is simply magnificent, seven minutes of sheer rocking joy that showcases a band that are tighter than a music journalist when asked to pay three quid for a cup of coffee. I love the album, and its various moods make for a great set, from the upbeat and tongue in cheek ‘Charlie’s Ego’ to the ridiculously emotional ‘Hero’, during which pictures of fans deceased loved ones are projected onto a screen. No, you’re crying...
Speaking of the screen, it’s a neat addition and is in the shape of the band’s “cat pod” space helmet thing, with a colour changing surround. Every track has accompanying images or film, and it’s all very nice indeed that shows real thought. As the set finished with the epic ‘Bootleg Bandoleros’, there’s a lot of happy people, and I have to admit I am gobsmacked by how absolutely spot on the band have been so far. As I go outside to watch twatty local youths arsing about at the fair, I wonder how on Earth they will top it in part two.
Well, it will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen them that Cats In Space don’t have any high and low gears, and the ninety minutes odd “Best Of” set that follows is as mesmerising and entertaining as what came before. The band are just so damned good! Damian Edwards has been a fine addition, and loves the stage like it gave birth to him. His voice has a fantastic range and he never misses a note, nor does his voice crack or waver in any way. The rest of the band are the proverbial well-oiled machine. Greg Hart and Dean Howard trade lead solos equally, whilst Jeff Brown handles bass with aplomb. All three help provide the harmonies that are such a big part of the band as well. On drums we have Steevi Bacon, who really pounds the shit put of his skins when given the opportunity, whilst Andy Stewart sits at his grand piano housed keyboards and gives each track the backing and beeps that are needed. No one can be singled out as they all give it their all.
I swear that this gig felt like heaven to me at times, listening to tracks like ‘Too Many Gods’, ‘Johnny Rocket’, ‘The Mad Hatters Tea Party’, and the one that started it all, ‘Mr Heartache’... wow. I genuinely would put this gig up there, quality wise, with Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ tour or even Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ tour, both of which I witnessed. Just shy of two and a half hours of perfect music, played with passion and talent by five guys who took time after to say hello and sign shit. Not sure if it was the cheese or the grain, but something got into Cats In Space tonight and set them on fire, and I am glad I could be there to witness it.
Review Alan Holloway