I had the pleasure of a trip in to Oxford on the weekend to see one of my all time favourite bands, The Cat Empire. It was the sixth time I’ve seen them, so admittedly, they had quite a lot to live up to and if I’m honest, I was a teensy bit disappointed. That’s not to say they weren’t good. They were great. There are very few bands these days with their popularity and their line up that are touring so successfully. As Felix declared, last night was their 799th gig. That’s a lot of tickets sold.
The problem is, they can’t play their old tunes forever. Yeah, yeah, I know, the Chili Peppers do, but they’re a case in point. A phenomenal band that deteriorated. And The Empire’s new content just isn’t as interesting or enjoyable to listen to as their original couple of albums. Each album is less enticing than the last.
After much anticipation, the Empire minus their funky Empire tune, aped on to the stage like six hairy hobos and a horn section, exhausted at the no doubt repetitive tedium of playing the same old tunes on yet another UK tour (I missed one gig, so this is their seventh). Felix grows more and more alike Robbie Williams every gig, he’d be perfectly at home with his hyperbolic gestures on the stage of a west end musical, while Olly sits bored behind the keys.
On the other hand, Ross Irwin fronting the Empire horns is evidently incredibly talented and always a pleasure to watch and listen to, while Harry also remains the modest key prospect of better music ahead.
I bopped about, waved my arms, sung at the top of my voice like an idiot (and like all the other idiots), and had a genuinely fun time. But I can’t erase the memories of much better times dancing the same routine to the same band. My alliance is waning. In the timeless words of Galadriel, “the fellowship is breaking”.
Ah well, maybe there’s hope for the future in the form of Jackson Jackson, Harry Angus’ other (much more intriguing and compelling) outfit. They’ve just got to take that somewhat gigantic step across the world and I’ll be waiting, even queuing for my ticket. In the meantime, enjoy a classic: