Cats In Space – Corporation, Sheffield, Saturday 11th May, 2019
Set List: Intros: Stray Cat Strut & Johnny Rocket/Too Many Gods/Mad Hatter's Tea Party/Clown In Your Nightmare/Narnia/Mr. Heartache/Timebomb/September Rain/Last Man Standing/Scars/Silver & Gold/Hologram Man/Greatest Story Never Told/Five Minute Celebrity.
Encore: Thunder In The Night.
Now I remember seeing this six-strong band a couple of years ago supporting Status Quo at the City Hall, Sheffield but this is the first time I have witnessed them headline. Turns out it's the last gig of the 'Daytrip To Narnia UK Tour' as well and also the final fling for their vocalist, Paul Manzi who is joining The Sweet hereafter.
It was kind of weird to think that each song in the set would be the last one we would see him sing again but he put his heart and soul into every part of the show with a massive amount of love being delivered to the crowd who gave a lot of joyous passion and enthusiasm back as a result. They took us on a 'Daytrip To Narnia' now and again , with the various parts of the concept explained to us that fit the songs that had killer backing vocals from every member.
To top that musically there was of course outstanding soaring keyboard sections from Andy Stewart, solid drumwork, courtesy of Steevi Bacon and to-die-for guitar-work from Greg Hart & Dean Howard that was off the chain and bang in the pocket bass pumping from Jeff Brown. A pristine act that are clinically faultless with every single part of it live as well which guitarist, Greg Hart is not a fan of one bit. You'll find no hidden pre-recorded extras secretly concealed in this act.
From a musical point of view they come across like a mix of Styx & Boston with a Journey meets Foreigner feel at times. It was impressive to see that they had sold enough tickets to be playing in the main room (Room 1) – no mean feat either I have to say – it was curtained to a point though but fair game to them regardless.
What is great about these Cats is that they totally make an effort when it comes to visual stage presence because while others just go up their in clothes you'd wear down the pub, this bunch gets all flamboyant and snazzy – something that is emphasised in their majestic, top-notch vocal and playing ability. The dress sense really compliments the songs and makes the show all that more special for the fans in the venue.
Quite a few highlights were featured in this concert to say the least. For Christopher Merrick, it was the song 'Silver & Gold' and also the fact that more than Frontman, Paul Manzi, sang lead vocals in parts of various songs. Michael Kissane said his song highlight was 'The Greatest Story Never Told', not to mention the ovation that the band and particularly, Paul Manzi got from the crowd. They were simply loving it!
Lead guitarist, Greg Hart told us what he thought to a certain band using a hologram as frontman – it's sh*t in his eyes and many more too and went onto to tell us they'd written a song about it and cranked into 'Hologram Man' that went down a storm with everyone in the Corporation tonight. The booted boys were real impressed with the crowd who had come out to see them and the singing from them too.
We were even apologised to because there had been sound problems that night but from what I could hear, theirs was perfect regardless. A few songs were also took out of the set because of the delay as well earlier in the night. I couldn't help but love the disco mover of an encore 'Thunder In The Night' that both myself and Steve Cooper were reminded of 'I Was Made For Loving You' By Kiss.
Each member of the band gave Paul a big hug as a thank you to being there for the band as their Frontman over the years as well as several bows by them all to the audience. It really was a bittersweet ending almost but they kept it together regardless and met the crowd at the front of stage left as opposed to over at the merchandise. table due to the timing restraints.
Looking forward to seeing these Cats' back at the Corp. We are all in wonder who the new singer will be though.
By Glenn Milligan