Review + Photography by John Dent

The Cat Empire are back once again touring the UK, and although I’ve seen them live many times before, this is my first visit to the O2 Academy in Bristol and it’s the first of two nights here as a second night was put on due to demand for tickets. The Cat empire are one of those bands that are well known for their live shows, rumour has it that they are often the closing act at festivals because no other band wants to take to the stage after them.

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The support act for tonight are a fellow Australian band The Meltdown. They do a stellar job of warming the room up, they sit firmly in the Soul/Blues camp but have enough energy in their music to get everyone moving and I’m surprised at how packed the room already is for their set.

The Cat Empire appear on stage to a deafening applause, and launch straight in with ‘Ready Now’, one of their new tracks from earlier in the year. Instead of releasing an album, The Cat Empire have this year decided to release a new song every month, with this in mind, I was curious as to what we were going to hear tonight.

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I’ve yet to go to a Cat Empire gig where it didn’t seem like everyone in the room knows every lyric to every song, and tonight was no different. We heard a couple of new, unreleased songs and it even seemed the case with those, the crowd just soaked up the new music and kept on dancing.

During ‘How to Explain’ and ‘Two Shoes’ the mezzanine floor above me was visibly moving, bouncing up and down along with everyone else in the building. The tempo was brought back down towards the end of the set with ‘All Night Loud’ before ‘Still Young’ after which the band thanked us and the stage for the obligatory encore applause, before returning to play their final three songs.

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Those that have seen The Cat Empire more than once before will know that it has become a bit of a thing that they finish on ‘The Chariot’. It was a great end to a great evening, It’s clear that every single one of these guys are incredibly talented, they all performed solos tonight that were simply amazing, they clearly love what they do and their musical energy is so infectious that it’s was absolutely impossible not to be swept along with the feel of the music and the energy in the room. If there was one negative from tonight, it would be the lack of interaction with the crowd, at previous gigs there has seemed to be more of a connection with the room and to be fair, if it was your first time seeing the band then you would have still left the gig having had an awesome night, as did I. I guess the problem with having such a strong reputation for your live shows means that the expectation is always set ridiculously high.

All in all though, it was another great night from The Cat Empire, and I can’t wait for the next one…

See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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