The Cat Empire at Brixton Academy
The Cat Empire’s live shows always inspire a bit of a carnival atmosphere. The Australian band have been touring the world for over a decade now, and their heady mix of reggae, jazz and ska is guaranteed to get even the most placid of audience members tapping their toes just a little. Brixton Academy is their venue of choice when stopping off in London and the crowd last night greeted the band like returning heroes.
The group officially has six members, with a couple of additional trumpeters swelling the ranks at this performance. Centre-stage were Felix Riebel and Harry James Angus, who share the band’s vocal duties and provide bongos or a trumpet solos when called upon. The duo led their band through a setlist that drew from both their latest record Steal the Light (Prophets in the Sky was particularly warmly received) and their extensive back catalogue.
With their irrepressible reggae bounce and innate sunniness, The Cat Empire never get off to a slow start. The crowd at the Academy were moving as one from the very first track, jubilantly dancing away, with one fan holding up his pair of crutches in the air in sheer triumph. Hello elicited the night’s biggest sing-a-long, while Call Me Home’s opening trumpet solo was instantly recognised with a vast cheer.
The whole performance took on a very improvisational feel, with most songs devolving into extended jams, all of the players expertly in sync as the tracks were stripped down to their most basic elements and built back up again. Each member took their turn in the spotlight, including DJ Jumps, who scratched his way through a couple of manic solos on the deck. At times it seemed the band reached almost impossible levels of frenzy, with Angus remarking at one point: “We were right on the edge there, of everything falling apart…that’s where I like to be.”
The Cat Empire brought the Australian sunshine with them last night. Jubilant and stunningly accomplished on their wide array of instruments, the only complaint would be that there weren’t any slow numbers to leave room for a breather. The crowd dispersed, buzzing, out into the chill of the British night.
Photos: Alejo Garcia
For further information and future events visit The Cat Empire’s website here.
Watch the video for Hello here: