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Cats In Space / Novatines http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d1/9a/76/Cats-In-Space-Live-Thumb-23-1556738552.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 30, 2019    
 
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Cats In Space / Novatines - The Stables, Milton Keynes (UK) - 25 April 2019

This was my first time visiting The Stables in Milton Keynes; it's a great, friendly venue with a low stage that comes right out in amongst the seating at the sides, giving it a very intimate feel.

The show was opened by young Bath quintet Novatines. They have a Classic Rock image and a penchant for vintage instruments, but musically their approach is more Alternative-based; there was melody enough but I was put off by the singer's insistence on screeching at each song's finale. They garnered a fairly decent response, but as a support I think they were a complete mis-match to the more "mature" Cats In Space audience due to their Alt-approach. I would have to hear them again to determine whether I think they're any good, but to be honest I'm not really sure I want to.


Cats In Space Live 1

However, Cats In Space were, excuse the pun, on a completely different planet. It's obvious they're seasoned performers and their Power Pop/Glam Rock hybrid is just so irresistibly catchy you just can't help but enjoy yourself. This tour was billed as 'Narnia Part 1', but it would be the last tour featuring vocalist Paul Manzi, as it was revealed just prior to these shows that he would be leaving to join The Sweet full-time. Whoever comes in has enormous shoes to fill, as though Manzi's highly theatrical performance is hugely entertaining, his voice is simply phenomenal.

The show began with The Stray Cats' 'Stray Cat Strut' playing over the PA which led into the fanfare for 'Johnny Rocket' to start the show properly, then followed by the brilliant 'Too Many Gods'. It's not just Paul Manzi's vocals that were impressive, as the harmonies from guitarist Greg Hart, bassist Jeff Brown and keyboardist Andy Stewart are so cleverly arranged as they trade vocal lines with Manzi himself. The tour was to promote the excellent 'Daytrip To Narnia' album, but all three Cats records were equally visited for material, with 'The Mad-Hatter's Tea Party', 'Clown In Your Nightmare' and 'Mr. Heartache' all early highlights.

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Mid-set saw an acoustic interlude, with drummer Steevi Bacon coming to the front of the stage to play bongos on 'Chasing Diamonds', 'Man In The Moon' and 'September Rain', with the lighter approach enhancing the sublime vocals even more, particularly Manzi's soaring performance on 'Chasing Diamonds'. However, just when you think they couldn't get any better, it was when the guitars were plugged back in and the set led to its finale that things became even more amazing. My personal favourite 'Scars' featured a wonderful, extended guitar solo from Dean Howard at its finale, but it was the pairing of newies 'Silver And Gold' and 'Hologram Man' that finally saw the audience leaping to their feet and singing along.


Cats In Space Live 2

Then came the pièce de résistance of the show with the epic 'The Greatest Story Never Told' with excellent dual lead vocals from Jeff Brown and Manzi and a lengthy guitar duet from Hart and Howard that was scintillating. That only left 'Five Minute Celebrity' to close the main set in style. They were off stage barely minutes, with Steevi Bacon returning first for a brief but thunderous drum solo which led into the Disco-inspired 'Thunder In The Night' – camp but brilliant, the only thing missing was the use of the glitter ball that was hanging above the stage to enhance the mood. The Cats then took their final bows as 'Everybody Wants To Be A Cat' from The Aristocats played over the PA.


Cats In Space Live 3

Although The Stables is a great venue, Cats In Space really should be playing in much bigger venues than this. When I interviewed Greg Hart earlier this year he told me about his intentions for the band and the huge theatre show they have planned, but to do that they need a bigger audience. If you haven't seen them live yet then I urge you to get to a show as soon as you can – I promise you won't be disappointed.

Review and photos by Ant Heeks

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