Furry nice indeed: The Cat Empire bring the party to the Palais
Advertisement

Furry nice indeed: The Cat Empire bring the party to the Palais

The Cat Empire
Palais Theatre, St Kilda
Saturday 8 September 
★★★★½
Reviewer: Nicole Precel

"It's always strange playing back home. It's more pressure," says the Cat Empire's singer-percussionist Felix Riebl at one point during this high-energy show. "All the skeletons and the expectations come out of the closet. Melbourne has been such a big part of our lives."

Formed in 1999, the tight-knit outfit is in the midst of a huge Australian tour, with 30-odd dates looming in Europe to an average of 4000 fans a night and about 20 dates in North America to come.

The band has always brought the party atmosphere, and this night is no exception. There's a chill outside but within the golden walls of the Palais it suddenly feels like summer and no one wants to sit down.

Felix Riebl (third from right) and his Cat Empire bandmates have weathered changing times and musical fashions.

Felix Riebl (third from right) and his Cat Empire bandmates have weathered changing times and musical fashions.

Advertisement

The Cuban-inspired Sol Y Sombra is a perfect demonstration of their musical brilliance, and with an impressive display by keyboardist Ollie McGill and the trumpet of Harry James Angus richoceting around the huge theatre, it soon shakes the crowd out of their seats. By the time they crack into Wolves, the audience is dancing, clapping and cheering wildly.

Harry hits the high-notes perfectly in Stolen Diamonds, and throws in some of his distinctive dance moves, his feet firmly planted as he sings and moves the rest of his body.

An incredible brass duel between the trombone and two trumpets in How to Explain builds to a crescendo before dropping out, prompting an eruption of hoots and hollers from the crowd.

The Cate Empire.

The Cate Empire.

Riebl introduces All Night Loud as a song he wrote about The Palais Theatre without knowing it. "The aisles are here but no one is allowed to be in them," he says, referencing the song's lyrics about dancing in the aisles. "It's because it was seated and most people didn't expect us to play a seated venue but most of you are standing up now anyway."

The group also tease a few new tracks, offering fans a taste of what's to come. Since July they've released a new song on the first day of each month, and will continue doing so ahead of the release of their first album since 2016 early next year.

Riebl says he wrote Oscar Wilde about his childhood dog. They also play Killer, which has a thumping bass line  and catchy chorus.

All focus turns to DJ Jumps for In My Pocket, with its long and impressive record-skipping solo; it's an epic display that has him towelling off when it's all over.

After finishing with Still Young, the band responds to the foot-stomping and cheering by bounding back on stage for an encore of Steal the Light followed by one of their old favourites, The Chariot.

For some, it brings back memories of younger years; for others it is simply a perfect way to end another party The Cat Empire has brought to the stage.

Nicole Precel is a video journalist and reporter at The Age. She is also a documentary maker.