Cats In Space brought their classic rock with hints of glam rock and power pop to the Palace Theatre for one night in a run of ambitious proportions. There are definitely some Queen vibes in their sound, too, so if this is your style of music, then you are in for a treat when it comes to listening to this band, for they brought tons of hard-hitting fun.
Cats In Space
Palace Theatre, Southend-On-Sea – 26 September 2023
Words And Photography: Razorrhead Productions
This was going to be a different show as it was a seated rock concert, and usually, you don’t tend to mix seating events with rock concerts. This was part of the grand plan. “Our songs are just too massive to project on a smaller stage, unfortunately,” Greg Hart told MetalTalk earlier in the year.
“And although the million-dollar question is, yeah, of course, you can do Hammersmith Odeon. But can you sell that many tickets? And the answer is no. So we’re trying to find a way into a theatre show by doing this tour. We’ve done some before, and they work out really well.”
A stage show crafted by James Heron, “Mad James, we call him,” awaited, and we were all eager to experience the results. “Let’s do the show as best as we can and how people think that Cats In Space should do it,” Greg had said. And, boy, they did not disappoint.
The show begins at 7:30, when the stage lights go dim, and the audience settles down in their seats. Atmospheric synths start to play the intro of the show while we see space visuals play on the background screens. There is a David Bowie vibe going on here.
The band then comes on stage and kicks off the show with a selection of tracks from their latest album, Kickstart The Sun, featuring tracks such as King Of Stars, Poke The Witch, Teenage Millionaires, and Goodbye To The American Dream.
There is a fantastic set of visuals in the background that represent the theme for each track, such as space men floating around during their space-themed tracks or people enjoying the greed of money on Teenage Millionaires. These are only a couple of examples since they cover a wide array of subjects during their show.
There are plenty of good vibes on stage with the band members interacting with each other and lots of smiles on their faces, evident that they enjoy doing what they do. Lead vocalist Damien Edwards has a good laugh with the crowd, too. Silly jokes, camp humour, and inviting them to a fun raffle to win a cat space helmet add to the good mood of the show.
The show’s first half consists of songs from their latest album, with lots of dancing and hand clapping on stage. There is a good range of variety in music, ranging from catchy Queen-style anthems to soft emotional ballads.
Their guitarists, Greg Hart and Dean Howard, have an impressive arsenal of guitars that are swapped out every few songs, enough to make any guitar enthusiast jealous. They add a good mixture of blues and classic rock to their leads while adding a pinch of their own signature tone. This means they stand out head and shoulders above more generic-sounding bands.
Once the first half is done, the lights come back on, and everyone takes a break for half an hour.
The second set consists of their older songs, or what their vocalist calls “Their golden years.” We get songs from Atlantis; both Listen To The Radio and I Fell Out Of Love With Rock ‘N’ Roll were epic.
Synth player Andy Stewart creates an impressive atmosphere to add depth to the classic guitars, bluesy bass, and hard-rocking drums. He ranges his playing style from classic piano during ballads to more modern catchy electro synths and pads during their rockier tracks.
Drummer Steevi Bacon, who is originally from Southend, reminds me a lot of Scott Travis from Judas Priest. Hard, cracking snares with bright, adventurous drum fills help bring out the overall sound. Jeff Brown’s bass playing helps fill the gaps between the two guitarists.
We get four tracks from Scarecrow and three from Day Trip To Narnia in what builds to a fantastic showcase of the magnificent quality of the songs in their catalogue. Edwards is a master of them all. If 2020 gave him “a different perspective on things, on my career and on following my heart a bit more,” then tonight is the icing on the cake for band and fans.
Towards the end of the show, the Cats encourage the audience to get up and get more interactive. Everyone is on their feet and waving their arms to the tunes. This ends with a two-song encore that leaves the Palace Theatre packed and rocked out for the night.
Greg Hart told MetalTalk that in the past, as great as the rock venues are and despite the wonderful memories they had gathered, “it’s just not showing the band off, unfortunately, to the best of its capabilities.”
Tonight was a fantastic show that reminds you what proper entertainment should look like at a rock concert. Everyone tonight was thoroughly immersed in the entire show.
For anyone that likes their rock with a hint of glam, or almost anything ’70s, this a band you must go and see live.
But if, like us, the album Kickstart The Sun left you feeling uplifted and “infused with the glow that only truly great albums bring,” then tonight lifted the previous out-of-this-world experience to a different galaxy.