The Cats In Space/Space Elevator UK tour was dubbed 'Out Of This World' and was, simply put, a vehicle to take these two extraordinary bands around the UK to showcase the very best of British Classic Rock. Both bands have experienced musicians amongst their number, so there was no shortage of talent on show and for those of you who elected not to go – you certainly missed a great opportunity to get up close and personal with two shining stars of music.
As we dragged ourselves out of the pub and headed to the venue, we arrived just as Space Elevator were setting up their equipment. It's been a wait of two years to finally see them play their first ever Scottish gig, and it didn't disappoint. As the band's intro music played and the house lights dimmed, the bar literally emptied as the whole audience made their way to the front as Space Elevator made their entrance.
Now, I don't think I'd be wrong in saying that one of the attractions of a Space Elevator live gig has to be The Duchess and her collection of catsuits, or in this case a tartan leotard, but as the band kicked into their opening number, 'Elevator', all this was forgotten as they put in a first class performance.
"One night in Sauchiehall Street," shouted The Duchess to applause as the band fired into 'Take The Pain', a song not on their debut release but looking like it could be making an appearance on their as yet unreleased album. It was a fast paced number and The Duchess was a bundle of fun as she bounced around the stage, thoroughly caught up in the moment.
There's not much chat between songs but when she does, The Duchess is obviously delighted to be here and name-checks a few friends who've come to support them. All but two songs from the band's debut album were played with 'The Loneliness Of Love' being a particular highlight which kept the audience enthralled. Bass player Chas Maguire got his moment in the spotlight during the quiet mid-section before guitarist David Young stepped up with his understated solo.
Another popular number was 'I Will Find You (Gallifrey Dreams)' which was dedicated to "any Doctor Who fans" in what was another watershed moment in the set. If you're looking for a power ballad then this certainly fits the bill and ticks all the boxes. 'Oil And Bubbles' gives The Duchess a chance to stretch her voice on some of the high notes, time and time again, whilst the rhythm section of Maguire and drummer Brian Greene seem happy to take a backseat in terms of visibility, leaving the limelight to Young and The Duchess to take centre stage so well on the slower paced 'Really Don't Care'.
Two covers were also added to the set with Thin Lizzy's 'Don't Believe A Word' up first in an endearing moment. Originally recorded for the Action on Addiction charity (actiononaddiction.org.uk), Young tells the audience to applause, and if you haven't heard the Space Elevator version, do yourself a favour and download it. The live version itself is just immense – a slow lyrical guitar opens things up before the Duchess unleashes the full force of her voice in a powerful performance that won't fail to send a shiver down your spine before the pace speeds up as Young's electric guitar riff kicks in and the place was rocking once again.
Set closer was Aerosmith's 'Love In An Elevator' which the band close off their set in fine style and the rush from the front of the stage to the merchandise table at the back told it's own story. This was a 'must see' band and they delivered on every conceivable level and were more than a match for the headliners, Cats In Space.
Space Elevator Setlist:
Take The Pain
The Loneliness Of Love
Little White Lies
Don't Believe A Word
More Than Enough
I Will Find You (Gallifrey Dreams)
Far Away Boy
Oils And Bubbles
Really Don't Care
We Can Fly
Love In An Elevator
Space Elevator are:
The Duchess – Lead Vocals
David Young –Guitar
Chas Maguire – Bass Guitar
Brian Greene – Drums
There's a big noise currently happening in London around Cats In Space and a supreme performance at the Stone Free Festival back in June only solidified their reputation. (Literally) at the heart of the band is Greg Hart, who has written songs for artists as diverse as Donna Summer, Cher and Asia. Like Space Elevator before them, Cats In Space are a hugely talented band and deserve to be listened to.
Their debut album, 'Too Many Gods', was released at the back end of last year and the audience were treated to a fair share of tracks from it. Kicking off with the title track, the band get a huge ovation and they were all smiles as they settled into the groove – you had to feel sorry for keyboard player Andy Stewart, however, who seemed to be stuck away in a corner at the back.
Frontman Paul Manzi is quite an amiable chap and apologised for the lack of eye candy in the band, to which one wag in the audience shouts "Look at me!" to laughter all round - typical Glasgow on a Saturday night. 'Last Man Standing' had a great twin guitar sound from Hart and ex-T'Pau guitarist Dean Howard, along with a powerhouse performance from drummer Steevi Bacon on what is surely a future Cats In Space classic.
'Scandalous' is up next, which isn't on the album but is actually a b-side track, but any band would be proud to call this an a-side. Bacon delivers a thunderous performance merged in with some classic guitar chords, not to mention the incredible vocal from Manzi which is more than matched with some excellent harmonies from Hart and bass player Jeff Brown. Another top notch track.
There's not much between song chatter from Manzi who is more than keen to keep the band on track and to make sure they perform as many songs as possible. 'Man In The Moon' follows, which is a slower paced number that allows the band a breather and features a great synthesised vocal sound giving it a different feel from the other songs.
'The Greatest Story Never Told' is set up with the bass sound before Manzi resumes the status quo with a powerful performance before the song kicks up a notch. This had plenty of the audience clapping along whilst some others decided it was a great opportunity to get out their air guitars. 'Unfinished Symphony', written about the struggle of the music business, had the twin guitars mixed excellently once again really bring the sing to life.
The band close off with 'Five Minute Celebrity', but as they do there's no doubt they're going to come back on for a well deserved encore which turned out to be their current single, an excellent cover of Slade's 'How Does If Feel'. and The Sweet's 'Burn On The Flame', which are preceded by Hart giving an impassioned speech and thanking those who turned out and support small venues and bands which earns him a generous round of applause.
Both bands here offered something different and it's hard to separate them on the strength of their performances, so the real winner was the audience who were treated to two incredible sets by two incredible bands.
Cats In Space Setlist:
Too Many Gods
Only In Vegas
Last Man Standing
Man In The Moon
The Greatest Story Never Told
Five Minute Celebrity
How Does It Feel
Burn On The Flame
Cats In Space are:
Paul Manzi – Vocals/Guitars
Greg Hart – Guitars/Vocals
Dean Howard – Guitars/Vocals
Jeff Brown – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Andy Stewart – Keyboards
Steevi Bacon – Drums