In a night of palpable anticipation, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby finds one of the great cult bands at the top of their game.
This is one of those nights when the sense of anticipation is palpable. Cage The Elephant were originally booked to play downstairs in the significantly smaller Academy 2. However, the demand was high enough to move upstairs to a practically sold out Academy 1.
We arrived pretty early. There were already more people there than at many a visit to the same venue, and those numbers just continued to swell.
Nashville’s Chrome Pony entered to loud cheers, possibly due to their bass player who was wearing the third best fluorescent beanie hat we’ve seen this year and their drummer, who may or may not have been Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. They raced through a plethora of cool garage rock riffs that sadly seemed a little wasted on some of the material. But they were a well-honed machine and entertaining enough.
The minute Cage The Elephant stepped on stage, the room erupted. The band’s energy appeared to feed the audience, and vice versa. Frontman Matthew Shultz has something of an Iggy Pop persona about him, even more so when he loses his shirt. By the second song, In One Ear from their debut, he was already stage diving, and standing on people’s shoulders in the middle of the crowd. Yet his voice never failed him. It is astonishing to think that someone so manic, shaking his head like he’s in a dandruff commercial, can sing so well.
The setlist was heavy on the new material, with particular highlights being the lead single Mess Around and the Suede-like Trouble, whilst Telescope from 2013’s Melophobia provided one of the few breathers of the night.
The success of the band’s debut meant that album’s singles – Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, Back Against The Wall and the aforementioned In One Ear – received the loudest reaction. But, honestly, the crowd were in their element throughout. Being seasoned professionals (ha!), we opted to stay towards the back, but believe us when we say we were itching to join the sweltering masses at the front.
Towards the end, Schultz said it was a pleasure to be in Liverpool as “this city spawned all the great music in the world”. It’s a cheesy line to respond with, but it was equally a pleasure to witness Cage The Elephant in the city. They could just be one of the great cult bands.
Photos by Getintothis’ Vicky Pea.