Monday, 13 June 2011

GIG REVIEW: Cast - Cheese And Grain, Frome - 11/06/2011

The music of my youth could've sent me in any direction, but when Britpop came a lot of the bands were to put me on the right track that would lead to a rich and varied musical life. Cast were certainly a band I discovered during the britpop era, but they are essentially responsible for timeless music that goes beyond britpop. A lot of the great bands of that era split during the early to mid 2000's, and Cast were one of them. They split following a disastrous change of direction and a hugely unsuccessful 4th album that saw them exchange classic songwriting for loops, samples and songs that lacked in quality. Seeing one of the greatest groups of the last few decades split on such a low was a shame, but I was thrilled to hear last year's news that Cast were coming back. Cast had split up just as I was old enough to start going to gigs, so I regretfully missed out on the chance to see them first time round but seeing the group reform boosted my hopes of finally seeing them live after all these years. After a successful comeback tour to mark the 15 year anniversary of their legendary debut album 'All Change' the group began recording their first album in a decade, which is being produced by John Leckie.

As a warm up gig for the band's appearance at this year's Isle Of Wight festival, Cast made a trip to the Cheese and Grain in Frome, a local venue only a short drive away from my hometown of Melksham, which meant that finally I was able to watch the mighty Cast perform some of the anthems that soundtracked my youth so brilliantly. Kicking off the show with 'Finetime', the nostalgia came flooding back but at the same time this music still sounds so fresh, and it could very well still be legendary in decades to come. And judging by a few other people in the front row, these songs can still produce hysteric excitement as well as nostalgic joy, which is evident when they blast through the classic 'Sandstorm'.

But unlike some of the other groups of their era, Cast are certainly doing a lot more than just looking back to the past. Their new songs sound like the work of a refreshed musical unit looking to the future with great promise, and the brilliant 'Time Bomb' is a great example of this. It has a fine Who-like riff and the same sense of hope and excitement of the band's debut album, but with an accomplished sound displaying how John Power's songwriting skills have developed over the years. The 1997 hit 'Guiding Star' still sounded as fun and catchy as it did all those years ago and sent some of the faithful in the front row wild with delight, while 'Magic Hour' sparkled with a tender, understated beauty that proved to be a most charming moment. With the wonderful sounds guitarist Skin Tyson was making, it made it sound even sweeter. 'Live The Dream' proved to be a fan favourite as it induced a spirited singalong amongst the first few rows, and another new track 'See That Girl'  which with its Byrds-esque guitar and sweet melody confirms the band's new album is definitely worth getting excited about. Another reason to get excited about it is 'Troubled Thoughts', an uptempo rock n roll stomp that sounds like The Las but with more ideas.

Predictably, 'Walkway' was beautiful, 'Alright' was great fun and an encore of 'Flying' was simply stunning, and finishing with a jubilant 'Free Me', the group rounded off a most enjoyable night. This is a group who clearly love being back out there playing the old hits, but are also buzzing off of the excellent new music they are producing. After limping away from the music scene a decade ago, it seems that Cast are alive and firing on all cylinders again.

Below is a playlist of videos from the gig (plays automatically from first song), all filmed by myself, stood right in front of John Power . The songs you can watch are:

Troubled Thoughts (clip)
Alrright (clip)
Flying (2 clips)

And below is another playlist of more videos from the gig, filmed by YouTube user Kaf669. Many thanks for letting me use them on the blog.....

And below are my videos again, but available to watch individually.....

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