Difficult to describe and impossible to categorise, The Cat Empire brought their Rising With The Sun World Tour to Portsmouth’s Pyramids.
Opening the show for The Cat Empire were Black Peaches. Self described as “Drawn from the swamp and the delta the Peaches’ music is loose-limbed and strung-out, a psychotropic stew of funk, jazz and country music.” The 6-piece band fronted by long serving Hot Chip drummer and former Scritti Politti member Rob Smoughton, provided a great introduction to the main act.
The Peaches set mostly consisting of songs from their debut album Get Down You Dirty Rascals, flowed from low slung country to double-time jazz effortlessly. Guitarist Adam Chetwood switched to a lap steel and wah pedal for the opening track of their new album, the sun-drenched sounding Double Top.
The Black Peaches closed their set to a great response from the Portsmouth crowd, exiting the brightly coloured, mandala decorated stage to make way for the headliners.
The Cat Empire, hailing from Melbourne Australia, have built a reputation for being as one of the best live acts in the world. Their sound crosses many genres, appealing to die hard followers and new fans alike. After opening the UK leg of their world tour in Brighton, they headed along the South Coast to Portsmouth’s Pyramids.
The band took to the stage and opened with ‘Wolves’, the 1st track from their 10th studio album ‘Rising With The Sun’. Known for blending influences from across the globe their next number ‘Like a Drum’ alternates between English and Spanish lyrics and went down a storm with the Portsmouth crowd.
Trumpeter and singer Harry added a touch of humour asking “Whoever heard of a swimming pool that floods?” referring to the recent storm that temporarily closed the Pyramids pool before continuing with more tracks from their previous LP ‘Brighter than gold’. The dance floor erupted as the band played ‘Prophets In The Sky’ featuring the brassy vibe they have been become known for and showcasing the scratch skills of DJ Jumps.
The Cat Empire create an energy on stage many live acts find hard to replicate. Having toured the World with their current line-up for over fifteen years this comes as no surprise. The new album has been described as having a more pop-rock sound, but the band retains the latin influence of previous releases. ‘Blasting Away’ the Fourth track from ‘Rising With The Sun’ reflects this perfectly.
In my opinion any band that features three of it’s seven members playing brass has a winning formula. Harry’s trumpet solo to open their next number ‘How To Explain’ captivated the near capacity Pyramids crowd and filled the venue. Speaking of which the sound for both bands on the night was exceptional.
‘Midnight’ for me is one of the highlights of the latest album and of the gig. This dreamy dubbed out tune shows The Cat Empire’s versatility while retaining the individual elements of the more dancefloor orientated tracks. ‘Rising with The Sun’ continues this vibe and also translated well live.
Long serving fans were treated to some of the more well-known hits from the previous nine albums before the band left the stage. ‘The Wine Song’ a piano laden, balkan inspired ode to drunken fun-times provided a fitting finale to the evening’s proceedings.
For a band that sell out huge venues across both hemispheres it was great to see them visit our relatively small island.
If you get the opportunity to hear The Cat Empire live I would recommend taking it with both hands.
For information on The Cat Empire including future tour dates visit their website
Live photography courtesy of the excellent www.jameswhitephotos.com
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