Review by Hannah Dent with Photography by Johnny Dent

It’s a lovely sunny day – leaving the beach – feeling in the mood for a bit of those Cat Empire vibes. Tonight they are playing at The Lemon Grove in Exeter, I’m looking forward to this gig for a couple of reasons, The first one being that The Cat Empire have a great reputation for their live shows and the second one being that the Lemon Grove is a tiny venue by TCE standards, so I was looking forward to seeing them in a smaller, more intimate room.

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We arrived early enough to catch the  support act, Malavita. And what an apt support act they were for The Cat Empire. They describe themselves as “Latin infused skankster funk” and to be honest, I think that’s pretty bang on… With a raft of fantastic upbeat songs, they are clearly a bunch of very talented musicians. The lead singer certainly knew how to get the crowd in party mode! It’s nice to see a great local band supporting too, I can’t wait to see them again at some point. If you are already a Cat Empire fan then Malavita are definitely worth checking out.

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And on come The Cat Empire to rapturous applause. I’ve seen TCE on numerous occasions, from Australia in 2004 to various gigs in the UK since. They never let you down, there is always a good mix of their old and new songs and tonight was no different. With such a vast back catalogue of songs after seven studio albums (and heaps of other live albums and projects) it must be a bit of a task to choose what to include on the setlist. There are songs like ‘Two Shoes’ and ‘Bulls’ that will always get the crowd bouncing with hands in the air but songs from their latest album go down equally as well. We have become used to the gigs by TCE finishing with ‘The Chariot’, it’s almost become a tradition. But tonight, we had a two song encore, with ‘Kila’ finishing the set off, which goes down surprisingly well.

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There seemed to be a little less from the other band members this time, and more from Felix. We did miss more from both Harry on the vocals (it seems a while since I’ve seen him really get the crowd in the palm of his hands) and there didn’t seem to be as much from Ollie on the keys (he usually does some awesome, almost hypnotic solos), but none the less, I can’t see anyone not having thought it was a great gig.

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See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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