Words by Marz Yaghmai – LILMZZ Creative
In support of the recent release of their album ‘Stolen Diamonds’ (Feb 2019) released via Two Shoes Records, Melbourne groovers The Cat Empire have embarked on a national tour sporting a number of sold out shows across the country. Presented by The Cat Empire Touring Company, ‘The Stolen Diamonds Tour’ has already made waves across Sydney, Melbourne and The Sunshine Coast. Now gracing the streets of Brisbane, they brought their 2-hour dance party to The Fortitude Music Hall featuring Perth’s Afro-Kroel goddess Grace Barbé. The Cat Empire’s feel-good, high-energy, boogie-inducing sounds didn’t fail to live up to their reputation as one of Australia’s best festival bands, making the entire room move from start to finish.
Drawing on her Seychellois roots, Grace Barbé opened the show telling tales of the colourful history of slavery in her hometown, pirates and the native ladies ‘coconuts.’ Without fail, Barbé took the audience on a feels-train straight from the sunburnt Indian Ocean. Her fusion style of psychedelic rock, reggae and pop would not have been complete without her band members Jamie Searle on bass and Hardy Perrine on drums creating a three-piece powerhouse that gave the audience chills whilst Barbé bopped along from one side of the stage to another.
With the release of her new album ‘FANM:WOMAN’ (July 2019) via Afrotropik Records, Barbé is quickly climbing up the ladder to become one of Australia’s best independent, ethnic artists. A true force to be reckoned with, Barbé has performed on the entire Stolen Diamonds Tour, slaying the crowds across the East Coast to be here sharing her music in Brisbane.
From the second The Cat Empire took to the stage, the room was bursting with energy. Fans of all ages from the youngins through to the oldies were on their feet – clapping, shaking and twisting along. Frontman, Felix Riebl ran out to his place centre-stage, gave the audience a power-leap greeting and moved into their appropriately placed first song of the night, Anybody. ‘Staring at the crowded room,’ The Cat Empire shimmied on and by their third song In My Pocket, had the whole room swaying their arms to the beat.
To say that The Cat Empire commanded attention is an understatement. This 8-piece ‘anything goes’ style band features some of Australia’s most talented brass and percussion artists including Harry J Angus (trumpet/vocals), Will Hull-Brown (drums), ‘Jumps’ Khadiwala (decks), Kieran Conrau (horns) and Ross Irwin (horns). Not to forget the band’s incredibly sought-after rhythm section featuring Ollie McGill (keys) and Ryan Monro (bass). Whether you were front-left, mid-mosh or nestled in the back of the crowd, fellow-crowd members were smiling from ear to ear, soaking up the unique and diverse sounds The Cat Empire delivered.
All in all, the show was an excellent example of Australia’s talented music scene in it’s finest form. As the night came to it’s close, the audience were in awe (and likely in pain from all the dancing) of the perfectly matched support for this magnificent display of musical expertise. It’s with a heavy heart fans will see the ‘Stolen Diamonds Tour’ come to its close here after a final three dates here in Australia, with our homegrown favourites set to hit Europe and the UK in early 2020.
Our closing wisdom to impart on The Cat Empire’s assortment of fans is that their live presence is something that must be seen to be believed… So why wait? Catch them at one of their final Australian performances (or be sure to be the first with tickets to their next tour!)
Thursday 21 November, Odeon Theatre – Hobart (SOLD OUT)
Saturday 23 November, Queenscliff Music Festival – Melbourne* (Tickets)
Saturday 30 November, Kings Park and Botanic Garden – Perth* (Tickets)
*Grace Barbé not appearing