sat 04/04/2020

Cage the Elephant, O2 Academy, Glasgow review - old-fashioned rock n' roll from Kentucky sextet | reviews, news & interviews

Cage the Elephant, O2 Academy, Glasgow review - old-fashioned rock n' roll from Kentucky sextet

Cage the Elephant, O2 Academy, Glasgow review - old-fashioned rock n' roll from Kentucky sextet

Frontman Matt Shultz carried the band through a lively set

Cage the Elephant, managing to stay still for once

Matt Shultz was clearly taking no chances. The Cage the Elephant frontman appeared onstage underneath a large umbrella, presumably bought to cope with the day’s deluge of rain. In the ever effervescent Shultz’s hands it was swiftly used as a prop, kickstarting a lively evening of old fashioned rock 'n’ roll.

Matt Shultz was clearly taking no chances. The Cage the Elephant frontman appeared onstage underneath a large umbrella, presumably bought to cope with the day’s deluge of rain. In the ever effervescent Shultz’s hands it was swiftly used as a prop, kickstarting a lively evening of old fashioned rock 'n’ roll.

These are heady times for the Kentucky outfit, who arrived fresh from winning their second Grammy for fifth album, Social Cues. It provided the backbone of a lengthy set that suggested they have outlasted many of their contemporaries by serving up invigorating versions of classic styles, from the bold glam thump of “Spiderhead” and Stooges-esque squeal on "Mess Around” to the persistent groove running through “Ready To Let Go”. Yes, they are familiar templates to work with but in a live setting they felt infused with life, a reminder of the heady excitement a rock band can generate.

Shultz, a marionette doll of a singer, jerked around and strutted like a southern fried David Johannsen. It was a performance theatrical in nature, every gesture as visible from the back row as from those squashed against the barrier. At points he slumped down to the ground, singing while sticking his legs in the air, at another moment his vocals came while having his back firmly turned to the crowd before spinning around.

His brother Brad, on guitar, joined in with the interaction by going crowd surfing while they rolled through the only tune played from their debut album, “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”. It was a number where the onstage antics actually detracted from the song, with Shultz playing guitar for an instrumental segment with such dramatic gesturing that it felt overly staged.

Still, centre stage was his throughout, with three of the other band members almost obscured by smoke as the set went on. Despite being hidden, drummer Jared Champion’s rhythms were crucial, as although there was a plentiful supply of material the band’s songs worked best when remembering the latter part of rock n’ roll as well as the former, as on the sway of “Trouble” or the camera phones in the air provoking “Cigarette Daydreams”, a crisp sound mix giving them room to breathe.   

Yet those familiar formulas sometimes stuck too tightly to the more straightforward rockers, and no showmanship could lift them quite enough. There was certainly muscle to the holler of “It’s Just Forever” or “House of Glass” but not enough dexterity underneath them, even with Shultz contorting himself throughout.   

And if “Teeth” was strikingly fierce late on then the laid back “Love’s The Only Way” and droning “Goodbye” that followed provided a damp squib of a finale.

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