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REVIEW: The Cat Empire @ The Beachy

There were 4 bands that I really wanted to see whilst in Australia. Ironically I’ve seen 3 out of 4 during my stay here in Byron Bay! I ticked the first off at Byron Bluesfest in the form of The John Butler Trio. The second was The Beautiful Girls who I saw at The Great Northern Hotel. The third was Xavier Rudd but unfortunately his tour dates meant I was always on the opposite coast! The fourth and my most anticipated band was The Cat Empire, who I caught at The Beach Hotel on Thursday.

As soon as the tour dates for the 2010 Cat Empire Tour loaded on my iPhone (I’d been checking periodically in the vain hope something might come up) I immediately went straight to the ticket outlet and got myself a ticket – this was back in April and the gig wasn’t until August…what can I say – I like to make sure I’m prepared!

With the gig rolling ever sooner I rusteld up a good crew of people who wanted to join me, and soon most of the AQ staff were in tow. Unfortunately my little bro bailed on Australia 3 weeks too early and couldn’t make it – gutted for him!

A week before the gig I heard back from the bands record company and after  brief email exchange and with the credentials of this blog and my photographic background I found myself with a press pass…STOKED!

Needless to say I sold my ticket pretty sharpish and was $50 back in pocket, making the night even sweeter!

A last minute edition in the form of Lastain (who unfortunately left on Sat and I miss him muchly) and we were set to go.

With the end of my last bus shift of the day and an ice cold crate already waiting me, Kez and Cribby got cracking on the pre drinking. The Beach Hotel (as reviewed HERE) isn’t the cheapest so we decided to make sure we didn’t need to buy much!

Well on our way we made the short walk to the venue and started to que. Once the doors were open we got ourselves sorted – front row dead centre. Perfect for shooting pics. Unfortunately we lost sight of a lot fo the crew quite quickly as the crowd began to fill the room, and despite the intimate size of the place we weren’t to refind them until the end.

Even still I was stoked and stood in anticipation with Kez. The support act rolled on stage around 9ish and were a great way to start the night. And the Banging Racketts had a distinctive Amy Winehouse feel and look, but without the copious amounts of drug abuse and with way more class and punch! The lead singer had great banter and the backing singers and band oozed 50’s sheek.

Then came The Cat Empire. I was so stoked by this point that I was slightly worried they might not live up to expectation. I shouldve know better than let that thought cross my mind!

For those of you unfamiliar with them The Cat Empire is Melbourne born Aussie band whose eclectic mix of trumpets, horns, DJ’s, keyboards and vocals produce a ska like sound with albums that you can chill too or dance like a mentalist in equal measure – proving a great hi on the global touring circuit.

Unfortunately I didn’t feel as stoked about their newest album Cinema which seemed to lack the energy and upbeat songs of past albums like Two Shoes. Again this worry was soon abandoned once they started playing.

It seems their new album is best previewed in the live form. Belting trumpet solos and a who range of vocal talent soon filled the room.

They mixed the whole set up too – merging from new songs to old, and occasionally isolating some of their newest or bets known tunes.

Old favourites like Two Shoes fitted perfectly alongside newbies like Come Home.

Never before have I seen such a large scale band so at home in a smaller venue and keep the impact they have on a festival size crowd. But they have a deep connection with the Beachy and indeed Byron itself – recording albums here before and soaking up the sun and surf.

This definitely came across in their set, and despite a condensed crowd mass dancing soon erupted a few notes into their first song. One of the lead singers produced some great reactions, bursting into what can only be described and Egyptian esque vocal techniques,  framed in a trumpet and keyboard set that was so bizarre it worked perfectly.

Musical treats were had all round and by the time they’d finished their encore – old hit Chariot – the crowd was mix of moving bodies, sweat and smiles.

They left me with the stoke I’d hoped they would and a fresh view on their new album.

They’re now busy touring the rest of Australia before venturing abroad – I’m just hoping that I can secure tickets to their visit to Bristol if I’m back in England by then!

The Cat Empires new album “Cinema” is now available worldwide – both in record store and via iTunes.

Check out their website – www.thecatempire.com.au – for all their upcoming tour dates and festival appearnces.

Cheers to the press department at EMI Records for hooking me up with media passes. Much appreciated!

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