Cage The Elephant Live: O2 Academy, Liverpool 18-02-16

Last night was a bit of a novelty for me, my friend Dave asked me a while back if I fancied going to see Cage The Elephant, I had no idea at all who they were* and had never heard a note of theirs but a gig’s a gig and so I jumped at the chance.  As the days rolled around it got to Monday before the gig and I realized I was still in that state of ignorance and so I downloaded their new LP, Tell Me I’m Pretty, via the sub-super-sonic-parallelogram magic of the internet and I span it** twice before last night.  I quite liked it, producer Dan Auerbach brought some of his influence to bear and I could hear traces of the Black Keys, Beck and others in the tunes, but if I had a criticism it would be that it was a bit of a faint-sounding LP, a little diffident maybe.

Cage the Elephant 04

So the novelty for me was rocking up to a gig and not knowing anything about the band I was going to see at all, what they looked like, where they were from*^, what they’d play, whether there would be costume changes, or even the basics like whether they’d have nude fire-breathing midgets.  The Academy in Liverpool made me feel Goddamned old, in the absolute crushing manner that only a room packed with happy great-looking young folk having a wonderful time can; at a rough count there were only 7 other people in there old enough to remember grunge and I knew three of them from work.

Surely the best gig photo ever taken? I'm sitting back and just waiting for all the awards to come flooding in.
Surely the best gig photo ever taken? I’m sitting back and just waiting for all the awards to come flooding in.

The venue lit up as soon as the band ambled on stage, all 6 of them and launched into their opener and it was soon a mass of heaving, bouncing youth.  One thing I liked about Cage The Elephant right from the off was the way that each of them looked like they were in a different band, running the gamut from Southern rock through to buttoned-up indie and they were really good musicians one and all.  Another thing that I was mightily impressed with was singer Brad Shultz, who was the best frontman I’d seen for a long, long time – dancing, strutting, jumping about, diving into the crowd (at least twice), the man was a dynamo who didn’t miss a note, or stay still for almost two hours straight.  He really had something of Anthony Kiedis about him.

Cage the Elephant 02

At various points I’m pretty sure I recognized each and every track from Tell Me I’m Pretty, but each and every one had so much more bite live.  In fact Cage the Elephant had a really intriguing sound live, there was a groovy and original mix of all manner of great stuff in there, some really interesting rhythmic touches, some Stooges thuggery and a couple of blistering guitar solos courtesy of Nick Bockrath.  The band as a whole is a lot heavier live than on the LP I’ve heard and it serves them really well.  I really enjoyed myself and that was with me hearing the majority of these songs for the very first time.

Nice to see the RCA logo again in this post-Bowie world
Nice to see the RCA logo again in this post-Bowie world

My particular highlights were the mutant go-go beat of ‘Cold Cold Cold’, the emotional drama of the ballad-ish ‘Too Late To Say Goodbye’ and the (totally unrecognizable from the LP) ‘Portuguese Knife Fight’^ which I thought was actually a cover of Stooges ‘Loose’ at first, as well as a great earlier track (which almost sounded a bit RHCP, but good!) called ‘In One Ear’.  I really enjoyed myself, showed those kids that old guys can dance good and went home all sweaty and happy, although defrosting the 1537-mobile at the station at 11:40 and thinking ‘Hmm, I have to get up for work in 6 and a half hours’, was food for thought.

Cage the Elephant 03

Cage The Elephant, certainly as a live experience, come highly recommended by me; to the point whereby I invested in some vinyl from them today.  And now, I must sleep.

And no there weren’t any nude fire-breathing midgets.

633 Down (still).

*being the well-informed know-all that I am.

**not sure precisely what the correct verb is for MP3s so I’ll stick with ‘span’.

*^other than ‘American’, I understand that it’s a bit of a big place.

^great title!

27 thoughts on “Cage The Elephant Live: O2 Academy, Liverpool 18-02-16

  1. I like that experience of seeing a band with little prior info, like reading a book without looking at the book jacket.
    They had a hit a few years ago (ain’t no rest for the wicked I think it was called) – but I would have been similarly uninformed beyond that, sounds like a show I would have enjoyed too!

    1. They played a really rocked-up version of that track half way through and it was excellent. It was fun, in the same way its good to see a movie without knowing anything about it.

  2. I’ve never heard these folks, though the name seemed familiar. Seems they played the QMU here last week, so I maybe spotted a poster and the name’s stuck. Not sure they’re my tin of Super, though.

  3. I remember playing their CD ages and ages ago, and saying I thought it would sound great live. But then more than one person (I think James was one) said no they were terrible live. But these are unreliable memories and it matters not because perhaps they’ve improved greatly and your experience was the end result of all their hard work!

  4. I do not know any of their new songs, but I do like a lot of their old ones. Good dirty rock, from what I have heard. I’m wary of Auerbach bringing in too much of a Black Keys sound. Patrick Carney produced a recent album of the Sheepdogs and you could hear his influence in the rhythms right away.

    1. I’ve heard a few more now and like them. Still much better live I say and he really was a great front man.

      Your one man war on Black Keys still going strong then?

      1. It’s no one man war, I just find their rhythms to be very identifiable. There is only one band that sounds like Black Keys and I don’t really enjoy hearing other bands suddenly start to emulate it.

      2. Rubbish, I hear you spend thousands of dollars every year buying front row tickets to all their gigs just so you can make rude faces at Dan Auerbach.

  5. Yeah, that was the thing with seeing the Watchmen…everyone was over 38. Cage the Elephant did the title track for Borderlands, and that’s about all I know of them. Glad you had fun, old man!

  6. Thanks for your efforts in trying to keep us middle-aged folk relevant. It’s not easy these days. I have to grow a beard down to my chest, wear a beanie, flannel shirt, chinos, and army boots just to keep up with today’s hipper crowds. And that’s just sitting in my living room.

    Cage The Elephant seem like the kind of band that would be better enjoyed live to me. I’ve listened to most of their records and some songs stuck while others just fell to the floor. The middle albums seemed like they were trying to find a niche. The new one sounds as if they may have found it. Good for them.

    1. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated them? you sure it wasn’t just haaaaaated them?

      I really enjoyed them but I had no expectations at all, which was quite fun because normally I’m always clued-up and excited about such things.

      And thanks, the wrestler has the best mullet EVER.

Leave a Reply