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Cat out of the bag

Andy McFarlane tracks down The Cat Empire in Liverpool - along with every Aussie in the northern hemisphere

Published on February 23rd 2007.

Cat out of the bag

IT'S a mere six months since the Cat Empire last visited the Carling Academy and life could be about to change for the Melbourne six-piece.

The relentless touring schedule that has seen them take in most of Europe, Asia, Canada and the States paid off this month when they were granted a slot on the influential Letterman show in the US.

But if they really have reached the brink of greatness, you wouldn't know it.

They sauntered on stage in the same laid-back manner and launched straight into their opener, the appropriately-named Hello.

For the uninitiated, the Empire sound is a mish-mash of jazz, funk, hip-hop and reggae, with a spicy salsa tang.

They are huge Down Under and every Aussie in the northern hemisphere seemed to thrown a sickie from their local Walkabout to come join the Liverpool party.

The band were missing their 'Empire Horns', who provided support at their last Liverpool gig, but it didn't detract from the experience.

At times, Angus's Aboriginal wailings threatened to go a little too far and leave fellow frontman Felix Riebl in the shade, but no one in the increasingly happy crowd seemed to mind.

After warming up their followers with favourites from their eponymous debut album, the band ensured there wasn't a static toe in the gaff by the time they got to more recent hits Sly and Two Shoes.

If the Cat Empire ever achieve mainstream success in the UK, they will certainly never do it on the back of their image.

There's not a trendy stripey jumper or pair of skinny jeans in sight and bassist Ryan Monro turns out in a classic outback 'wifebeater' vest. Their cheesy dancing and corny crowd-participation is the polar opposite of cool.

But the band don't care and neither do the audience - it all just adds to the fun. After a rapturous encore featuring their anthem, The Chariot, not a soul heads home without sporting a huge grin.

Success? Ah, who needs it?

The Empire will keep having a laugh whatever.

Andrew McFarlane

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