June 2006

The Cat Empire
June 30, 2006The Mod ClubToronto
Welcome to the empire
by Sue Bullas
You should be warned: this is the most biased review I will ever file. I love The Cat Empire. I have since the first time I heard them and I think I always will. When I heard they would be here I had to see it myself.

Opening for The Cats was Nine Mile, a dynamic duo just returning from a tour in Australia. The singer D’Ari sounds like a combination of Ben Harper and Jack Johnson with a few others too. The drummer Dave Tolley plays a Peruvian drum called a cajon. Talk about man becoming one with his instrument. It was interesting to watch and the drum sounded incredible. Nine Mile’s songs reflect on relationships, the longing while being away and the turmoil of returning. This duo’s combination of instruments and voices is a beautiful thing. They finished their set with Bob Marley and it turned into a massive sing-along. Nine Mile’s tees scream ‘Unf*** the world’. It’s a sentiment I hope they continue to spread far and wide.

The Cat Empire fuses every style of music: funk, jazz, latin, rock, klezmer, rap, ska, reggae, Indian styles and others I don’t know can influence any one song. Introduced to this Melbourne band while I was in Australia, this CD was one of the best things I brought back with me. The band consists of a DJ, a singer/drummer, a drummer, a singer/trumpet player, a keys player and a bass/guitar player. ‘Music is the language of us all’ states one of their song titles.

‘How you feelin?’ yells Harry James Angus. He loves to sing, at one point taking on a crooner role! The crowd needed nothing to set us off. We’re anticipating this concert from the word go, singing along at the top of our lungs. The guys have been traveling since 6:30 am and while that didn’t seem to affect them during the show by the end you could see they were tired but buoyed by the spirit of the crowd. You can see Felix Riebl wanting to dance as badly as sing. The voices of Harry James Angus and Felix Riebl complement each other so well, it’s a pleasure to see them sharing the role of lead singer.
Ollie McGill plays the piano and shows a classical flare now and then. Ryan Monro stands back until he can’t stand it and runs up to the crowd cheering them on. Will Hull-Brown had a great solo rampage on the drums. Jamshid ‘Jumps’ Khadiwala moves up and dances with Felix when he’s not creating background music. These boys are grouse as they say or maybe that is a Sydney thing. I can’t pick a favourite song because they’re all great.

The crowd had a deep and abiding love for these guys, having a good time and enjoying the music at hand, swaying as a mass, jumping to the beat while some newbie fans wondered what was going on with the shifting beat and instrument variations. The buzz was the perfect start to the long weekend ahead. And to the guy in the green Mooks shirt, his Jack Russell and his buddy: buy Two Shoes by The Cat Empire. You won’t regret it. G’day.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Sue Bullas
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