CATS IN SPACE
I've been aware of Cats in Space for a while now, since their 2015 inception; predominantly, through sporadic press releases. However, until this live release arrived for review, I'd not previously checked out their music... or, to be honest, knew much at all about the band. The unusual absence of a press sheet with this CD perpetuates my lack of knowledge... hmmm... so just who are Cats in Space? And is there a feline link?... I hope so... I'm a fervent cat lover.
Seemingly, their astronomical feline aesthetic is in name and imagery only. Featuring members whose credentials make for rather impressive reading - vocalist Paul Manzi, guitarists Greg Hart and Dean Howard, bassist Jeff Brown, drummer Steevi Bacon and keys man Andy Stewart have, between them, been involved with The Sweet; Arena; Oliver Wakeman Band; T'Pau; Ian Gillan; Toby Jepson; Bad Company; Robin Trower Band, etc. That's quite some list! And, claiming to "transport you back to the days of 70s Classic Rock with a sprinkling of AOR PowerPop", it seems their collective sound has been largely influenced by their CVs.
At just under 35 minutes long, 'Cats Alive!' is rather short for what's been billed as a live “album”. Basically, it's a recording of their support set at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on Thunder's tour last year. March 24th, to be precise, and it states on the inside of the digipak that 4,000 "nutty folk" were in attendance. I'm guessing it was a relatively short support slot in front of said nutters, unless their set has been truncated for this release... either way, some bonus live material would've been a nice inclusion here, to extend the playing time to a more respectable length.
Still, of the material that is included... well, it's all very wonderful, I must say. Songwriting and performances (I'm presuming there were no post-show overdubs), as well as the actual recording, mix and mastering, are all first class. There's just the right amount of crowd noise in the mix, too, to accentuate that feeling of a second-hand live experience. A few "meeows" and some gentle purring might've been nice, but that's sadly not the case. Melodies have been finely interwoven within their compositions. And each of the seven songs on offer does indeed adhere to Cats in Space's self-proclaimed classic rock/power-pop amalgam.
If a classic rock/power-pop fusion floats your boat, and 'Cats Alive!' is a faithful and exemplary representation of just what Cats in Space generally offer in the live environment, then they're an act (or "cat") well worth checking out on whatever stage you're able to. Cats or no cats.
Review by Mark Holmes
23rd Feb 2018
1) Too Many Gods
2) Only in Vegas
3) Last Man Standing
4) The Mad Hatter's Tea-party
5) Mr Heartache
6) Greatest Story Never Told
7) Five Minute Celebrity
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"There's just the right amount of crowd noise in the mix...to accentuate that feeling of a second-hand live experience. A few "meeows" and some gentle purring might've been nice, but that's sadly not the case."