Words & Pics : Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
The end of the tour in support of new album “Scarecrow”, Cats in Space came to The Borderline in London. An earlier album launch show at the same venue had to be postponed to allow guitarist Dean Howard to recover after being hospitalised but all appears to be well now which was great news for the packed house.
With almost no negative reviews for the new album or the debut, a sound that mixes classic ELO with a dash of AOR and a touch of prog, Cats in Space have a sound that appeals to many. First up however were a new act for me, Kaato.
KAATO are a band from Sydney, Australia with an added dose of Nashville, Tennessee, thrown in for good measure. Singer Kurt Lowney, looking like a reincarnated blend of Bowie \ Ronson met producer Mitch Malloy whilst recording in Nashville and the end result is the band’s debut album.
Recording time spent in Japan a few years earlier saw people refer to the singer as Kaato (pronounced Kah-toe), meaning Kurt. It was during this time KAATO became Kurt’s performance persona and stage name.
With longtime friend and bass player, Mika Nuutinen, added to the band, Mitch also brought in guitar virtuoso Tristan Avakian for lead guitar. For the tour, the line up is missing Malloy but has extended to a five piece. 2 guitarists (bringing in Jack Edwards from Piston), bass, drummer and of course Kurt on vocals. Their show is one that gets a lot of people moving in the busy Borderline and they managed to play a set a little over half an hour and really warm up the crowd.
With material from their debut, not surprisingly, KAATO played ‘SDRnR’, ‘Clean As A Whistle’, ‘High Time’, ‘I Don’t Love You’, a great cover of ‘Bony Moronie’ that grabbed many people and got a fair few dancing along with glee, ‘Snake Eyes’, and ‘Time Stands Still’. Fair play to the band, a warm up in a small venue when, unlike the patrons in Cheers, not many people know your name.
Rightly so then that they stay on stage and take a well deserved bow at the end of their set. Job Done!
Cats In Space
Getting the ball rolling with ‘Too Many Gods’ and ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’, the aim of the night is melody, harmony and the opportunity to simply have a good old sing along to some of the most glorious tunes released in the last 30 years. Cats in Space bring experience, knowing lyrics, sublime melodies and some stunning guitar work all mixed up to present the complete package. It’s almost a shame that the guys weren’t doing this 30 years ago when they would have had the opportunity to be as big as bands like ELO, 10CC and more.
No one element of the live Cats experience stands out above any other and that, I think, is the key to success with this band. For once, the unit works because everyone is key to the sound and delivery of songs like ‘Last Man Standing’, ‘Unfinished Symphony’ and ‘September Rain’. Each one is a euphoric shot in the arm for each and every crowd member and the smiles on the faces on the audience suggest Cats in Space are the current drug of choice for many of them. Several members in the crowd look like they’ve tried a few other concoctions before settling on this particular drug but that’s a story for another time!
For those raised in the glorious days of the 1970s when the aforementioned bands were in their heyday, the gig was a welcome trip back in time but the key take away is that the music sounds fresh, modern, relevant as well and, as they band confirm later in the set, probably the reason that they’ve just been picked up to support Deep Purple \ Europe on the UK dates of their autumn tour. A prestigious slot and one that should open them up to a much much wider audience.
The fantastic lighting, PA and stage setup from the new look Borderline simply added to the show making it fast becoming one of the go to venues on the London rock circuit. Everything just came together with perhaps the one person shrouded in darkness being poor old Andy Stewart, perched behind his keyboard emporium at the back of the stage. When a band has six on stage with quite a lot of kit, I guess someone gets the short straw and minimal lighting. Thankfully though, Stewart added the depth, volume and magnificence to each and every track. If Jeff Lynne needs an orchestra to help him do this then kudos to Andy for managing the feat on his own!
Slade’s ‘How Does It Feel’ was followed by ‘Broken Wing’ which then led to a welcome encore of ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ where Mr Stewart got to shine once more and ‘Five Minute Celebrity’.
With vocals smoother than honey infused Lemsip and guitar playing that oozes class, experience and more harmony than the famous hairspray of the 70’s, this is a band that deserves, nay MUST, go places.
Too Many Gods
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
Last Man Standing
How Does It Feel? (Slade cover)
Greatest Story Never Told (inc. Andrew Stewart solo)
Five Minute Celebrity