Gig Of The Week – Cats In Space – Believe The Hype

In March 2023, Cats In Space announced a big and bold theatre tour to show the band live as they had always envisioned it. Ambitious, yes, but MetalTalk’s Chris Howell described the Southend show as exceeding expectations. This week sees the 2023 finale with four shows beginning in Islington Assembly Hall, where we will be out in force.

The Cats In Space set for the Kickstart The Sun Tour was designed by ‘Mad’ James Heron. Heron, who made the film for 1,000,000 miles, was given the brief to build something spectacular which would support the bands two sets per night. 

What was built was the opposite of the click track/press play you see in many arenas. This is the most organic live show on the current circuit.

Not that anyone from Cats In Space saw the set before the first show. “We didn’t have a run-through at all,” Greg Hart told MetalTalk editor Steve Ritchie. “We were going by the seat of our pants. James was having kittens right up until the 11th hour. He just said we will have to run with it. He was confident, and the guys that he built it with were confident.”

Cats In Space - Palace Theatre, Southend - 26 September 2023
Cats In Space – Palace Theatre, Southend – 26 September 2023. Photo: Razorrhead Productions/MetalTalk

James and the team had run through the program for the show in a warehouse up north but with no band. “Everything worked,” Greg said. “We hadn’t seen it. We didn’t even know what it looked like until we turned up at the first gig. Everyone just said, look, whatever you do, don’t look round at the screens when we’re playing, as that would look bad. We were going bloody hell. What’s going on here?

“But the funny thing was by the time we went on stage, we were so in the zone about making sure we played both the sets right that we completely forgot we had any screens going on behind us anyway.”

The only stage hitches that have happened so far are a couple of glitches where images did not show on the screen at the right place. “But no one would notice that,” Greg says. “Only James would notice. It’s been unbelievable for something that isn’t run to a click track or synced in with a backing track. Most of the big shows are. Everything is run to computers. Ours is played live off of the space bar on a laptop. 

“It’s so Heath Robinson, it’s actually quite shocking. I don’t mean that in a derogatory term, just in how it’s all hands on deck. We’ve got push buttons and knobs and switches to make it work. It’s brilliant.”

It is to the testament of drummer Stevie Bacon and his perfect timekeeping that live, it all works. “He keeps incredible time for a drummer,” Greg says. “So everything every night was running as clockwork.”

Cats In Space - Palace Theatre, Southend - 26 September 2023
Cats In Space – Palace Theatre, Southend – 26 September 2023. Photo: Razorrhead Productions/MetalTalk

During the design and build phase, there were stresses. Greg says that when he is not in control of something, he has the tendency to panic. There were some wobbles, but they all dug in with the desire to make it work winning out.

Our Chris Howell loved the Cats In Space Southend show, and Greg says that he is not alone in that experience. “The reviews have been astonishing,” Greg says. “We tend to get good reviews as a live band anyway because we are a good live band, without blowing up smoke. We always get told that we’re a good live band. But this is a different level.

“I think people were generally nervous for us thinking, well, they’re putting their live reputation on the line here for something that could end up looking like a bad pantomime. It’s anything but. We’ve got people that are following every single show. They’re buying tickets for every show. It’s like the old Status Quo thing, you know, the first four rows of the audience, you see the same every night. It really has gone down incredibly well.”

Cats In Space - Palace Theatre, Southend - 26 September 2023
Cats In Space – Palace Theatre, Southend – 26 September 2023. Photo: Razorrhead Productions/MetalTalk

There was one FFS moment when the Stockport venue was closed at the last minute due to the RAAC concrete issues, which affected a lot of UK Schools. “You couldn’t make that up,” Greg says, “and the annoying thing was we were cancelled the day before the show. They should have known way before that. I’m not blaming the venue, but I’m blaming the fact that we had no time. We were literally on the road, and it was only purely by fluke that we could come home for a couple of days and were not out in hotels. We would have lost all the money on the tour. That could have crippled us.

“But we managed to get away with it, fair play to both the venues. Stockport plus the Scottish date, we got them rebooked straight away within 48 hours for March next year.” 1/2 March 2024 are the Stockport and Bathgate rearranged shows. “Very good damage limitation there.”

Cats In Space - Palace Theatre, Southend - 26 September 2023
Cats In Space – Palace Theatre, Southend – 26 September 2023. Photo: Razorrhead Productions/MetalTalk

This week finds the band in London, Southampton, Milton Keynes and Swansea. “Three really big shows there,” Greg says. “Plus, we’re doing the Brook in Southampton, which is a fantastic club gig. It’s a really, really good venue. I’ve always wanted to get us into there because it’s such a good venue. So we’re pleased about that. The Stables in Milton Keynes are flying tickets out. I mean, that’s gonna get close to a sell out. 

The London show is the one that we’re pushing more than anything because we’ve taken a humongous risk because it’s a big venue. But it’s the only London venue that we can put the show into. All the other London venues that we could have approached, we couldn’t have put a show in.” 

A Kickstart The Sun tour without a London date would have been strange.

Next year will be busy for the band, too. There will be a live album from this tour, and Greg is already demoing new songs with Stevie. “I’ve got a great feeling about the next batch of songs that we’re gonna be doing,” Greg says.

But first, we have the London show tomorrow night. MetalTalk will be out in force. Come and see it and believe the hype. Cats In Space will, Greg says, be ready to turn the Christmas lights on in London.

“Islington Assembly Hall is a hell of a big gig, to be fair. We’re gonna do the best that we can, and hopefully, we can get a few bods in there to come and join us in London. It’s Christmas time. It’s gonna be a great night.”

We can’t wait. See you at the bar.

December

13dec7:00 pmCats In Space | Kickstart The Sun, LondonIslington Assembly Hall

14dec7:00 pmCats In Space | Kickstart The Sun, SouthamptonThe Brook

15dec7:00 pmCats In Space | Kickstart The Sun, Milton KeynesThe Stables, Jim Marshall Auditorium

16dec7:00 pmCats In Space | Kickstart The Sun, SwanseaPatti Pavilion

Cats In Space - December 2023
Cats In Space – December 2023

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