All images by Georgia Osborn
Kentucky band Cage the Elephant are no strangers to the UK, with the band first making it as a chart success in the UK as opposed to their home country, the USA. This familiarity Cage the Elephant has with the UK and its crowds was evident at Manchester’s Albert Hall, with the band pulling off a confident performance.
Supporting Cage the Elephant on this leg of their UK tour was Declan McKenna, an 18-year-old making big strides within the music industry, providing support for bands such as Blossoms as well as Cage. The other supporting band was Spring King, a four-piece from Macclesfield who have just been announced as the support for Ratboy’s upcoming dates in Manchester and London.
Throughout the gig, watching the band on stage was captivating, in particular the sibling duo of Matt Shultz, the vocalist and his brother Brad on guitar. Lead singer Matt has the best stage presence of any front man I have seen live, reminiscent of a young Mick Jagger. Guitarist Brad spends nearly the entirety of the gig engaging with the crowd, acting as a sort of hype man, even joining in with a rendition of ‘Manchester na na na’. The band’s stage presence is a crucial part of their appeal and makes going to see them live worthwhile even for someone unfamiliar with their songs.
Fans of the game Borderlands will however be familiar with the song Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked, which acted as the ultimate crowd pleaser. This song came fairly early in the setlist which could have been to get members of the crowd who aren’t familiar with their full back catalogue settled in early, but also shows a band that is more than happy to play their biggest hit early on as they know the rest of the set can hold its own towards the end. Songs such as Trouble, Come a Little Closer and In One Ear stood out as highlights within what was a very strong setlist in total. There wasn’t a time throughout the gig in which I was waiting to find out what the next song would be due which is testament to the band’s musicianship.
One minor criticism would be that the setlist seemed relatively short. For a band with four studio albums worth of material to go off, I would have expected a longer set. However, the quality of the songs used more than made up for this. Cage the Elephant are definitely a band that need to be seen live in order to fully appreciate just how good they are. Admittedly, whilst Cage the Elephant are very much a band I like, I wouldn’t place them amongst my favourite bands of all time. However, in terms of live performances, they are up there with the best live concerts I have ever seen. The band is certainly an example of one in which their albums do not capture the impact that the live shows have, which is very much a compliment to their live shows as opposed to a criticism of their albums.