WORDS BY JANET HARDING / IMAGES BY WARREN MILLAR
“Engulfing Us In A Tidal Wave Of Inspired Musical Brilliance, The Melodic And Feel Good Vibes Are Flowing”
First gig back after a 4 week break over Christmas and New Year, and first gig of 2022 for me – and wow, what a great event to start back with! Liverpool, the iconic city of sound – my favourite city, full of not only musical and creative talent but vast in history, culture and diversity too. It’s made all the more special tonight, being that Liverpool is the home town of tonight’s headline act, Cast. A home-coming anniversary special is on the cards and it’s one not to be missed!
Arriving at Lime Street station in a mist of freezing weather, it’s icy under foot and there’s a bite in the air…true Liverpudlian weather! …but it’s not put people off. It’s busy, there’s a buzz, and people are heading in the same direction as we are to the 02 Academy, only a stone’s throw away. Tonight’s event is another anniversary tour (of which I will never tire – this defining decade of indie genres is my favourite and an absolute love of mine) and is to celebrate 25 years of the release of debut album “All Change”, yet again held up by the pandemic. It feels more fitting than ever that we truly enjoy the live performance of this iconic album. Scousers through and through and proud to be, the sound is true to this identity and comes through loud and clear, and is celebrated by a vast and loyal following.
Upon entering our venue tonight it’s visible what a mixed audience Cast attract: all ages are present, from the loyal and diehard, original early fans like myself right down to younger teen fans, possibly here to see Cast live for the first time. They won’t be disappointed; I can personally vouch for that!
First Support – Woo
Liverpool based, 5 piece indie rock band, Woo, are first in support. Exploding on stage…what more can I say…coming at us full pelt! Real indie rock at its hardest, fastest, loudest. Very retro, very 90s, but contemporary with a crisp, well rehearsed feel, but an unbridled, raw energy. These lads are born to be on stage and, young as they are, look to be at home up there! It’s pure swagger, but likeable swagger, and we’re off to such a rocking start. Totally at ease and coming across as very experienced performers, it’s a great set. The vibe I get is hugely Manchester/’mad for it’ influenced, indie rock. Rounded, hard bass lines, loud, banging beats, layered extravagant guitar and a low northern sounding voice, very fitting….think Arctic Monkeys meet early Oasis with a dose of Jamie T thrown in for good measure…it works, it really works! It’s a great combination and it gives one mighty sound. With extended guitar and drum solos, ‘shouty’, angry singing style and long rap verses, at times it has a metal/rock feel to it. It’s moshpit-worthy stuff! Making this stage entirely their own, the set ends in as big a bang as it started, going out with one banging extended tune ‘Drive’. Set lists are made into paper planes and thrown into the crowd. What a set! Well done Woo! I’m interested to see more!! Smashed it!
Set List: Bastard Nation. Flats. Going Out. Interlude. Woo. Life Moves Slow. Drive
2nd Support – Cat Sfx
Cat Speranza – Vocals, Carlo Mariani – Guitars, Gordon Mills – Drums, Jacob Morris – Bass
4 piece, London based band. Indie/punk/glam/art/dark/grunge/rock. This band is truly something different, and very inspired! Another power house that throw themselves at us with boundless energy!! Very stylish, edgy, eccentric and very, very cool. Fascinating to watch, I’m hooked from the very start. Alternating in genres from early 80s post punk/new wave but with grunge undercurrents and a definite punk edge, the female lead vocal is something else! Very strong, very powerful, full in tone, far reaching and very controlled with so much depth, but at times a breathless sound. This girl sure can sing! Every part of this stage is utilised…bouncing, dancing, pogoing and all whilst singing at the same time A commanding performance, very memorable, it’s ‘need to see again soon’ stuff – I may have a new favourite band! Cat Sfx’s latest single “Rodeo” will be released on 25th February this year and I for one will be checking it out! Everything is given by the entire band, it’s completely captivating – you can’t take your eyes off them for a second. The punk rock beats, with grungy angst lyrics, up tempo, distorted, jagged guitar lines, at times we even feel a hint of ska or jangle pop. The combinations and diverse influences woven together create a musical tapestry to revel in, with that distinct punk feel running throughout. It’s been one hell of a set. I love this sound, I love this band…I have a new fav!!! Thank you Cat Sfx…You smashed it into pieces and thoroughly entertained the 02 Academy tonight. What an epic start!!
Set List: Doom. Grief thief. Upside down. Bitter. Stay young. Bin man. All the money. Rodeo. Reunite
Headliner – Cast
John Power – vocals/guitar, Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson – lead guitar/backing vocals, Jay Lewis – bass/backing Vocals, Keith O’Neil – drums
Our headline act this evening – Cast – one of THE most iconic and influential bands to emerge from the said 90s indie movement. Always original, always different, individual identity but still a huge contributor to the then scene, it’s this stand out, differing sound that’s made them stand the test of time and it’s a testimony to their musicality and creativity. In the past Cast have been called ‘the Who of the 90s’ and Noel Gallagher compared watching a live set of Cast to a religious experience…some testimony indeed ! And all worthy! As fresh and current sounding today as 25 or so yrs ago when first released, the now familiar tunes have become anthems, and are like ‘Scouse folk lore’. There is such a feel good vibe throughout this venue tonight; it’s one of laid back and friendliness, but also one of mounting excitement. ‘All Change’, the debut album of Cast, released in 1995, was to become the highest selling debut album in the history of the Polydor label. Soon reaching double platinum sales, it produced 4 hit singles: ‘Alright’, ‘Sandstorm’, ‘Fine Time’ and ‘Walk Away’. The entire album will be performed tonight although, as John Power announces, not in any particular order.
As Cast take the stage and launch into the first song ‘Promised Land’ the crowd go wild. It’s been so long awaited! Engulfing us in a tidal wave of inspired musical brilliance, the melodic and feel good vibes are flowing. Sounding as good today as at my last encounter with this magical band in the late 90s, this performance is one of epic proportions: immense energy, it’s bewitching, it’s joyous, light and breezy. Each song is pure listening delight. John Power’s vocals are on point, clear, bright and fresh; every high note reached is spine tingling and is reached with ease. His vocal control is excellent. The entire band gives a very tight, perfectly executed performance. It feels warm, uplifting and very familiar and somehow intimate, like an old fashioned Scouse sing along in some cosy local pub by a fire! It sure has everyone singing along anyway. The genuine smiles from band members speak volumes; it’s very apparent these guys are enjoying the performance as much as we are! The crowd willingly participate, bouncing to anthems like ‘Flying ‘ and ‘Alright’. It’s super high vibrational, high energy riffs, skippy, playful drumbeats, lilting bass lines- an almost folk like feel but more hard hitting, with John Power’s lullaby-like, joyous voice we could listen to this all night happily!! Lyrics range from melancholy to spiritual to motivational and positive, blending perfectly with the happy- making feels of this entire set …which sit so well with the beaming smiles from the band members. It’s an entire sound, it’s this sound that’s made Cast so stand-out and different: that overall feel of optimism and glowing brightness. Soothing and cheery sounds, gently lapping toward us like ocean waves, slowly drawing us in deeper to this musical experience as each song follows the last, an incoming tide of mesmeric and reminiscent, stunning musical sounds.
The performance is nonstop, all 4 band members are bouncing around. Drummer Keith (O’Neil) is often on his feet working his magic on his drum kit. As a front man, John Power oozes stage presence, he s not still for a second, moving enthusiastically to every song, swinging his guitar, jumping around in circles, all whilst playing and holding each note he sings to perfection. It’s genuinely a joy to watch. The Liverpudlian accent comes across in his singing, with brilliance, it’s why Cast are so well loved !
Cast have a powerful yet light sound, with real character. Throughout the set both guitarists, Liam (Tyson) Jay (Lewis), along with front man John Powers, form a circle in front of the drum kit, it’s like a jam session…the energy of the playing is reaching dizzying heights, it transcends. As an audience it really feels like being a part of it. After a quick few minutes break it’s onto the next set, the vibrations go even higher, if that’s possible. We’re reminded of how many brilliant hits Cast have actually had -tonight they’ve all been played – and incredibly well received they’ve been too, by an eager crowd. ‘Guiding Star’ has gotten the fans into frenzied mode, a musical grenade and true Cast classic. Mosh pit is in full swing, everyone’s on their feet, dancing, singing, bouncing.
Cast tonight have played hard and superbly well, and have given gracious and genuine thanks throughout. The energy, creativity and hard work these guys put in are to be commended. We’ve had reminiscent melodies and feel good high vibes of the ‘All Change’ album, followed by real indie rock, crashing, shimmering, distorted anthems, then the more lilting, spiritual, uplifting tunes. Tonight we’ve had a full back catalogue of Cast treasures; we’ve been truly indulged and we’ve loved it. It’s been a brilliant atmosphere, with an out of this world performance. Iconic, timeless, classic tunes- one gig to remember -, but then, as I know, Cast always are. This band are so worth seeing live. If you haven’t seen them yet, I implore you to. It will re-ignite gig passion. Cast are the most uplifting live performance you’ll likely see. They create genius songs with a brilliant sound and perform them to perfection.
Ever the fan, I cannot wait until the next time. Thank you, Cast….truly brought the house down at your hometown gig. Words can’t do justice to how good this band truly is. Full respect to you, Cast!!.
1/ PROMISED LAND
4/ BACK OF MY MIND
6/ FINE TIME
7/ FOUR WALLS
10/ TELL IT LIKE IT IS
11/ TWO OF A KIND
13/ MAGIC HOUR
14/ LIVE THE DREAM
15/ IM SO LONELY
16/ BEAT MAMA
18/ GUIDING STAR
19/ FREE ME
FOLLOW CAT SFX