Cage The Elephant reach new heights in London. Review of show from 20th January.
Indie rock band Cage The Elephant first achieved success in the UK before America, with hit single Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked which broke its way into the Top 40. Since then, they have been incredibly popular over here in England as well as achieving fame around the world as one of the most exciting live indie bands. Tonight, at their sold out show at London’s iconic O2 Brixton Academy, we saw just how far they have come with a spectacular 19 track set.
The event itself was viewed to be an incredible spectacle on paper, with the Kentucky band being supported by huge upcoming indie artists Spring King and Declan McKenna. In fact, it was tipped as one of The Music Radar’s top gigs to see in the first few months of 2017 and the event didn’t disappoint.
Rising star Declan McKenna opened the show with a stunning set beginning with track Isombard which got the mosh pits starting from the beginning. New track The Kid’s Don’t Wanna Come Home and Paracetamol injected more pandemonium in the crowd whilst closer Brazil showed everyone how important an artist McKenna will be over the next year. The set oozed style and confidence with the singer being compared to the likes of Jake Bugg. On stage it’s hard to agree with that comparison – McKenna gives more – with the energy of Rat Boy and the coolness of Alex Turner and Jarvis Cocker in their early days. His ability as an artist gets put into even greater perspective given that the 2015 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition winner is only 18 years old.
Spring King were next to the stage with their own brand of simplistic yet joyous rock songs. Following last year’s debut album Tell Me If You Like To, which was put in The Music Radar’s top 10 albums of 2017, it’s safe to say that there were big expectations of the band who are tipped by many to help lead the new wave of UK rock in the US. However, it can’t be said that their set was a complete success. Songs Rectifier and It’s So Dark were brilliant moments in their set with their thundering drums and messy guitars fuelling the ever growing mosh pits but elsewhere their set was too similar. The album tracks merged into one very big and similar sounding wall of noise. There was little clarity in the vocals, most of which were shouted rather than sang and as a whole it was just too loud and too fast. As a huge fan of their debut album, it was a real shame that the songs lost their own spark but they are a band who have been spectacular at other live shows so perhaps it just wasn’t their day today.
When the time came for Cage The Elephant to take to the stage, the atmosphere was electric. I’ve been to the venue before when it’s been sold out but never has it seemed this busy. Cry Baby, the opening track of latest album Tell Me I’m Pretty, kicked off Cage The Elephant’s set, with it’s Stone Roses style opening sending the crowd into a bouncing frenzy. In One Ear followed, splitting the crowd into various mosh pits. Cold Cold Cold was another highlight with frontman Matt Schultz in full Mick Jagger mode. Throughout the set, Schultz stood out – he jumped, leaped, danced, skipped and sang his way around the stage in what was one of the best performances from a frontman I’ve ever seen.
Hits Trouble, Ain’t Know Rest For The Wicked and Mess Around were sandwiched into the middle of the set one after the other to the crowd’s delight, who sang back every word of the songs. Brad Shultz, brother to singer Matt, also had brilliant moments through the set in which he engaged with the crowd on many occasions, getting as close to them as possible. In the encore, Matt Schultz came out to play an acoustic version of Right Before My Eyes alone, a song which hadn’t been played for ages and one which was dedicated to the London crowd as this was the city they first started at. Followed by a rousing rendition of Cigarette Daydreams which was the standout vocal moment of the set, and Shake Me Down, the show concluded with Teeth, in which both the band and crowd ended in an energetic bliss.
There was even time at the end of the show for Matt to come back on stage to explain his gratitude for the crowd. It was a triumph for the Kentucky five piece band on the final night of their UK tour and we can only hope they return in a similar emphatic way in the future.