Cast - O2 Academy 2, Birmingham - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Cast - O2 Academy 2, Birmingham

by Mark Steele Rating:10 Release Date:2013-04-15

An eventful evening was in store for Birmingham music fans as not only Britpop legends Cast were in town, but classic rockers Wolfmother were performing at the same venue as the main hall act. That, however, did nothing to throw a shadow on expectations for the artists scheduled to play in the smaller room.

A steady, scattered flow of people consisting of mixed-age groups were beginning to fill up the room, buzzing conversations were already in play. The opening 30 minute set by solo artist Willow Robinson and his guitar held some of the crowd's attention with his rock star good looks, nimble guitar work, and impressive vocal command. This is a young man who carries a real maturity defying his years, serving up classic blues-rock, seasoned with some late night romanticism.

As Willow drew to a close, following a quick scan of the crowd, it looked as though Mr Alan McGee of Creation Records and Oasis management fame as in town. Well it took a quick internet image search to check if he was not just a double, the shades sported and physical build seemed so accurate for it to not be him.  Yet following this moment, he seemed to have disappeared instantaneously, whether he was on the scout for new talent or he was happily chilling among the Cast entourage, we may never know.

Following a small break, the next act up was the local four-piece Modern Minds. They had reminded the crowd of their earlier support slot with Cast the year before, they confidently delivered a 30 minute set of songs, full of attitude and social consciousness. They were tightly knit and their animated  frontman was endearing alone. The energetic driving rock boomed across was inventive and refreshingly relevant, with a memorable last song 'Atmosphere' .

Following a further break, the seemingly deceptive small room began to carpet itself wall to wall with eagerly expectant folk who were really awaiting Cast. The four piece from Liverpool currently consist of Guitar wielding Frontman and Visionary vocalist - John Power, Liam 'Skin' Tyson - Lead Guitar, backing vocals, Jay Lewis (Formerly John Power Solo, and Cracatilla) Bass, Backing vocals and  the percussive Tornado on Drums, Keith O'Neill.

The intro music played was a snippet of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, swiftly after, the band made their entrance all waving and greeted with raised applause and whistles. Noel Gallagher of Oasis was once quoted as saying that witnessing Cast play live is comparable to a 'Religious Experience'. Well, he was not far wrong as the band fired off the blocks with 4 euphoria inducing songs from the All Changes album, first 'Promised Land', which grooved along with youthful bounce and immediately showed that renowned spiritual energy which initially captivated their audience 20 years ago. Next were songs 'Tell It Like It Is', 'Finetime' and 'Sandstorm' all potently delivered and warmed up the crowd for more.

Some new songs featured from the upcoming new album, expected in August this year, included 'Birdcage' containing droned phased guitars and a familiar britpop coating, leading into 'Kicking Up The Dust' a strong four-to-the-floor stomper, catapulting into a soundscape of delayed guitar strata. The Indian Raga stylings in the guitar of Liam and John's skyward soaring  vocal phrasing, seemed to conjure the image of roots reggae swami on a beach in Goa. The groovy 'Do That', showed the locked-in guitar and bass melodic phrasing, underneath complimented John's high-end soulful rich vocals.

Featured later in the non-stop set, were songs from the Mother Nature Calls album, including 'I'm So Lonely' which got the crowd singing along and hands in the air, moving into the upbeat hit 'Guiding Star', and not forgetting the inspirational single 'Flying' that had the front section gleefully moshing along, echoing the words as though they were their own.
Two slower songs followed to bring a breath back to all present, 'Live The Dream' packing a seemingly effortless guitar solo from Liam, not to forget a few welling eyes as the gentle ballad 'Walkaway' stirred the hearts of those present. The solid set closer was the driving 'Free Me' which had the crowd screaming ecstatically.

It was a concert seemingly over too soon by the band, but thanks to a relentless mass encore demand, the room was happily obliged with 3 bonus songs. Another new song 'Baby Blue Eyes' skipped along with the familiar Cast energy and a modern savvy songwriting touch. The two remaining tour-de-force treats were the interstellar cosmic trip 'History', containing Jay's hypnotic grooving bass loop, Keith's funky drum workout, Liam's space echo portal guitar tapping extravaganza, and over the surface saw John's melodic mantras imbedding themselves subconsciously. Last but not least was the all time favourite 'Alright' which empowered the crowd into a frenzied sea of gladness, smiles everywhere and hugs exchanged in what resembled a cup final winning celebration, made that more special by Keith's momentous Keith Moon style drum solo.

A well appreciated send off for Cast was given from the crowd, as the evening was a great indicator of a contented band still packing youthful vigour that defies their years. Who would have imagined that 20 years ago, the songs these gentlemen penned, would come full circle to speak into the public consciousness again. It's the right time again, for a change.


(Thanks to Serena Khan for the Photos)

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