There was a partial solar eclipse the day before tonight’s event. Well, they say that, but after tonight I’m convinced that the body actually moving across the face of the sun was the Cats in Space ship charging up with solar flares, such was the intensity of the performance, which positively sparkled with stardust in every direction.
Cats In Space – Matt Mitchell & the Coldhearts
SUB89 Reading – 26 October 2022
Words: Liz Medhurst
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Come to think of it, that report about the International Space Station having to fire boosters to change orbit on Monday probably really wasn’t to avoid the debris from that satellite the Russians blew up. I bet it was the Cats on their way up, making their presence known.
It’s all very fitting with the theme of this tour, to promote the latest, and frankly magnificent album Kickstart The Sun, exactly the message that is needed right now.
We are in Reading tonight, which is relatively rare. Even though there are some good small, medium and large venues here, the town is often overlooked as a tour stop for many due to being so close to London – under 25 minutes to Paddington on the fast train.
Works both ways, though. It’s quite easy for those based in the capital to get out here. It’s clearly the night for high-quality melody-driven songs as 10cc are also in town, over at The Hexagon, but make no mistake, the hot ticket is right here in this club.
The Cats took to the stage to the glorious harmonies of the Kickstart The Sun intro and blasted straight into a majestic King Of Stars before delivering the goods with the perennial Too Many Gods, illustrating how this band has oozed quality from every pore right from the off.
We were treated yet again to a perfectly crafted setlist with so much light and shade, containing a satisfying seven tracks from the new album and stunning highlights from the previous four.
Take your pick of any song played tonight, such as the earworm of Charlie’s Ego, the emotional intensity of 1,000,000 Miles or the modern driving fable of Poke The Witch, and you’ll get lost in a mini symphony with its own story.
Or simply bask in the incredible musicianship, whether the duelling guitars of Greg Hart and Dean Howard or the rhythm section of drummer Steevi Bacon and Jeff Brown on bass, who create grooves for days. Andy Stewart continues to astound with his piano wizardry, and of course, Damian Edwards, one of the very best vocalists on the scene, adds that extra touch of magic.
There’s no respite from the delights here. Towards the end of the main set, we were knocked out with not one but two double whammies, starting with a magisterial combination of Marionettes and Atlantis before a roaring Thunder In The Night segued into a super-energetic Mad Hatters Tea Party. It’s almost too much. Almost. I can take it.
The band looked to be having just as good a time as the audience, which is not surprising considering what they’ve put together. This display of glam-tastic, premium rock was extravagant but never overindulgent, hitting a sweet spot that was deeply satisfying.
Closing the main set with I Fell Out Of Love With Rock’ n’ Roll, complete with Led Zeppelin outro, before returning to end the night with Listen To The Radio and, of course, the epic showstopper Greatest Story Never Told, which left us once again marvelling at the strength of the catalogue and the power of what had been witnessed tonight.
So with top marks for stage presence, audience engagement and performance, there is no room for complaint whatsoever, apart from the frustration that this show is not taking place in an arena to be enjoyed by thousands. Having said that, being up close and personal like this is a real treat.
For a couple of hours on this dark foggy night in Reading, these felines with the finest pedigree absolutely brought the sunshine and gave an out-of-this-world experience. It’s going to take a week to come down to earth again.
Matt Mitchell & the Coldhearts
Openers Matt Mitchell & the Coldhearts impressed with an engaging and solid set of modern classic rock. Former Furyon and Colour of Noise frontman Mitchell has really come into his own with this quartet, a perfect vehicle for his strong vocals, ranging from husky to bluesy to powerful.
A selection of cuts from the self-titled debut album and this year’s excellent Mission provided a perfect introduction to a band that deserves to go far.