The Philharmonic Hall 5/12/16

People of a certain age (including my good self) remember Brit Pop in all its’ glory. The mid-nineties were exciting times, full of hope. A new Government promised change and indie music was at its peak. With the battle of the bands between the so called big two; Oasis verses Blur in the singles chart’s. Blur came out on top in the single battle, with a song that belonged in Oliver. But Oasis won the war in the album charts, and were seemingly destined for world domination, or so it looked at the time.

While all this was going on John Power had formed CAST from the ashes of the La’s. Their debut album All Change was released in October 1995. The album was lorded with great acclaim by the critics, citing the band as the next Who. Noel Gallagher even compared the bands live performances to “a religious experience”.

For myself, Cast will always be associated with just another glorious failure of England’s football team. In Euro 1996, football fans and the general public were swept away with euphoria as England reached the semi finals only to be beaten by Germany on penalties. A cats whisker of Gascoigne’s studs from getting to the final. As Des Lynam summed up the night up, he turned to the camera for his parting words, a nation wept and then a moment that will stick with me forever. John Power’s acoustic strings and Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson’s haunting lead guitar at the start of Walk Away summed up the mood of the nation, at that moment the song became the soundtrack of the summer of 1996, propelling Cast into the next big group to come out of Liverpool.

Twenty years later and after a six month tour of more than fifty gigs, Cast are coming back to play the Philharmonic Hall. To celebrate twenty years of All Change. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition the last couple of years for the bigger local bands and artists to collaborate with Philharmonic Orchestra. The evening starts with Alien slowly introducing the strings from the Orchestra, sometimes over powering the band in places, but in truth this was only technical sound problems which where quickly resolved. The first half ran smoothly with I’m So Lonely, Magic Hour and finishing before the break with Guided Star and Hideaway, but for some reason the crowd seemed subdued.

Whether this was due to the mellow auditorium of the Philharmonic Hall or the crowd where too afraid to stand up during the first set in unfamiliar surrounding. I’ve seen Cast play in a basketball court in Edinburgh in the late 90’s with Scottish kids fighting in front of the stage pissed on special brew creating a ferocious atmosphere.

Thankfully, the crowd started to participate in the second half of the night with the thunderous Sandstorm and the electric History bringing them to their feet.  With singalong anthems Finetime, Walk Away and Alright it seems strange that John Power isn’t regarded in the same breath as Noel Gallagher for his songwriting and harmonic breadth.

With the evening ending with Flying and Free Me the band proved all they had to prove and still have what it takes, they should be appreciated more in the history of the so called ‘Brit Pop’ revolution. Their music has stood the test of time and still feels fresh today.

Mike Sheerin

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