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Cat Empire (with Blue King Brown, The Beautiful Girls, Ash Grunwald): Sidney Myer Music Bowl, 4 Feb 2008

When I saw the tickets advertised in the Sun the day they came out, I just knew I had to go. Unfortunately, it took a while to organise people and buy the tickets, so we ended up with Reserved Row S tickets (which I guess were pretty good). Only managed to catch the last 10 or so minutes of Ash Grunwald‘s act, due to the lengthy line and the fact we only arrived half an hour or so before gates opened. Though not a fan of his music, his enthusiam (and obvious skill) was good to see.

Shortly after, The Beautiful Girls started playing. I was quite disappointed (having heard good things about them) and went off to purchase a souvlaki. Their music was entirely bland and unoriginal, consisting of very little more than a couple of basic chords and dull bass lines– what one might expect of a high school band. The next act more than made up for the disappointment of The Beautiful Girls. Blue King Brown were fantastic as usual (this being the fourth time I’d seen them). A fantastic synthesis of many musically talented individuals, through whose music came an incredible sense of rhythm and fun. Especially impressive was the percussion section- the drummer and percussionist had an incredible sense of rhythm. They did a fantastic job of priming the crowd for the main item.

The Cat Empire were amazing. The talented musicianship, intense rhythms, catchy melodies and the pervading sense of a good time communicated through their albums pales in comparison to what is delivered by a live show. Although there was a focus on songs from the newest album So Many Nights, it was fantastic to see they did not neglect their earlier crowd-pleasing masterpieces. Unfortunately (but obviously), they played their worst-ever song No Longer There (the flaccidity of which is incomprehensible compared to their otherwise excellent body of work). Extended improvisations from the Empire Horns (Ross Irwin and Kieran Conrau on trumpet and trombone respectively), the virtuostic Ollie McGill on keys and drummer Will Brown were a fantastic addition to the well-known studio-recorded tracks. Highlights of the show included the four dancers during Sly and the two dancers (featuring guest guitarist and percussionist) during Two Shoes, which was a visual treat. The night was powerfully ended by the encores: new track The Darkness and all-time favourite The Chariot (which we were to sing/hum/whistle for the rest of the night). A fantastic night out, supported by amazingly talented Blue King Brown and others. Much more than well worth the $65 ticket price!!

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