Cast, John McCullagh and the Escorts: O2 Academy, Liverpool



Returning home for their annual Christmas show, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson catches Cast on the form of their lives.

The worst aspect of music journalism is end of year lists. That annual scramble every music magazine, website or blog goes through to get their top album, single and gig countdowns out there first. To make theirs seem like the most important, the best reflection of the year in music and outdo everybody else’s list. The result of all this sees a lot the top 10s, 50s and 100s being published in late November, with a whole month of music still to happen. This year that has seen one of the biggest pop hits of the year Uptown Funk miss the cut, and although Mark Ronson won’t be losing any sleep over it, it probably would have featured in most lists had it been released a few weeks earlier.

Tonight’s Cast gig feels as if it could have suffered similar fate, and could well have been spoken about as one of the best gigs of 2014 had it happened in the summer. The career spanning set featured just about every hit any follower of the Merseyside icons could have hoped to see, and was performed with as much energy and swagger as in the group’s 90s heyday. They might not be trouble the charts any more, but on tonight’s showing John Power and co. are certainly not past it.

The lone new track which was given an airing Baby Blue Eyes signified what is great about Cast, they know how to write no nonsense guitar pop hits with big choruses. Sandstorm and Free Me are huge, anthemic highlights, with the latter complete with an epic psychedelic jam bringing the main set to a close. The show is not just all-guns-blazing anthems though, with Live the Dream and Walkaway proving the more delicate, lighters aloft moments.

The night is one of unbridled joy from the sell out O2 Academy crowd, with the reaction to hits such as Fine Time and the set closer Alright drowning out Power’s vocals in places, with every member of the audience singing their hearts out. There is a strong feeling of togetherness, which can be expected at a homecoming of one of the cities most loved bands, but tonight it’s more obvious than usual. Maybe it’s because it’s Christmas and everyone has had a fair few tipples. Whatever the reason, the band were clearly feeling the same with John Power taking time between songs to drink in the atmosphere.

Tonight won’t be featuring in anyone’s end of year lists, but let’s face it, nobody cares about that stuff anyway. What people care about is special moments, and tonight was filled with them from start to finish.

The evening’s support came from John McCullagh and the Escorts, whose attempt at bluesy rock and roll felt a bit flat and contrived, with harmonica solos thrown in to give it that ‘authentic’ sound, but really only cover up the basic chords and dull melodies. Frontman McCullagh has the confidence to make up for it, but is basically just a pound shop Jake Bugg (who himself is a B&M Bargain Bob Dylan).




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