• James Booton

CAGE THE ELEPHANT - The martyrs of live music


Cage The Elephant instantly became our favourite live band here at BOOT MUSIC when we first saw them a few years a go. We returned to see them last month at The Royal Albert Hall, Manchester, to see if they have kept that fact alive.

For a band that began their live career playing dirty underground venues across Southern-Eastern America, it seems somewhat peculiar seeing them play at such a grand venue such as. However, the band seem to have a priceless ability to turn even the most extravagant venue into a sweaty back-street bar and to fine tune any show to their preferred level of viscosity , blending their southern blues-rock with a hell of a lot of on-stage energy. When Cage The Elephant first came into the public eye in the UK with their debut, self-titled album, we were treated with a full throttled attack of aggressive Southern Rock. Although their 3rd album took on a slightly lighter tone, this did not reduce the intensity of their live sets. Their latest album has also brought back some of their original angst-fuelled punk vibes and managed to fuse the sounds of their first and third albums together, producing a brilliant mix that just begs to be played live. The night’s opener Cry Baby perfectly demonstrated this new blend. Combining dream-like verses with a more explosive bridge and a chorus fully brought to life by the showmanship of the four piece, and finally cutting to a purely blues inspired outro.

The album versions of the set list do carry a certain level of energy but the incredible swagger of frontman, Matt Schultz amplifies the significance of every clever riff, every passionate lyric and well, pretty much everything. With the idea of having a solely vocalist frontman becoming increasingly rare, we are finding a decreasing number of individuals who possess their own unique on stage persona. Matt Schultz happens to be one of a dying breed, promising incomparable passion in his vocals, plenty of head banging and of course, the odd stage dive. He certainly did not disappoint on this occasion, instantly breaking down the performer/viewer barrier and raising the hormone levels from start to finish, most notably on Cold Cold Cold and Too Late To Say Goodbye. The later acting as a perfect demonstration of his ability to take a song to the next level.

After a non-stop bombardment of sweat-dripping rock&roll , we were treated the sweeter side of the Kentucky group, with possibly one of the most beautiful songs to come out of such an angst filled band this decade, Cigarette Daydreams featuring in their encore. Their emotional rendition left everyone walking away with their ears ringing, yet with a slight tear in their eye. Despite their success Cage The Elephant remain a hugely under-rated band and are not to be missed live. They have certainly maintained our opinion that they are one of the best live acts around.

#gig