AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews Cast’s performance in The Globe in Cardiff with support from Houdini Dax. Britpop titans Cast marked their return to Cardiff in fine style within the dense musical hive of The Globe. Their return tour coincides with twenty years since the release of their inaugural album All Change, an undisputed classic of the 1990’s British indie scene that cemented the Liverpudlian band as one of the shining jewels in the Britpop crown, and earmarked frontman and The La’s alumni John Power as a songwriting force to be reckoned with. Furthermore, their Cardiff gig came on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the debut single release that kicked it all off for them – the ageless paean to limitless positivity Fine Time.
A full-capacity audience greeted their welcome return, standing as testament to the band’s enduring popularity and the timeless appeal of their impressive canon of anthems. There was a mix of generations old and new, from people who have followed the band from the beginning, to new fans discovering them for the first time.
As the swarm of spectators poured in, it fell on Cardiff young guns (and one of last year’s BBC Wales Horizons acts) Houdini Dax to entertain the crowd and they did so with aplomb. Like yours truly, the Welsh trio possess a sound dipped in rich, irresistible melodies and topped with a vintage indie rock swagger. If some of the audience were perhaps unfamiliar with them before, the unrelenting aural onslaught that came their way would have made sure that Houdini Dax would not be forgotten in a hurry. The dozens of new fans rushing over to sign up to the band’s mailing list for a copy of their new album Naughty Nation signalled a job well done.
From future stars to established icons, as the band who Noel Gallagher once described seeing live as a ‘religious experience’ arrived on the stage. From the outset, they demonstrated that Noel G’s statement was well and truly merited. Opening with the tracks Time Bomb and Not Afraid Of The World from their 2012 reunion album Troubled Times, the unbridled sonic force coming from the stage reverberated off the four walls of the tiny building and sent the entire room into a state of delirium – perhaps augmented further by the heatwave sweeping through the room.
Much of the setlist consisted of tracks from their 1995 magnum opus All Change, an album that arguably encapsulated and embodied the euphoric vibe of the Britpop period. Their debut single Fine Time, a mantra to the unbounded positivity of youth, still never fails to send a crowd through the roof twenty years on. Other anthems such as Sandstorm (their first ever Top 10 hit of seven), Tell It Like It Is and Promised Land were met with just as buoyant a response.
As well as revisiting the old classics, their new single Baby Blue Eyes, one of the new cuts from their forthcoming album due out early next year (news of which was met with an ecstatic response), was given an airing, proving that they haven’t lost their ear for a Velcro-like hook while demonstrating the maturity of their new sound.
With such a repertoire of hits to choose from, it was never going to be a challenge for the Scouse quartet to fill an hour-and-a-half show and if further proof were needed that John Power is one of the finest tunesmiths of our generation, then the rousing reception that greeted renditions of Guiding Star, Live The Dream and Flying (their biggest hit reaching number four in the UK charts) surely solidified that.
Walkaway has still retained the ability to make even the most hardened, beer-swilling fans in the audience throw their arms around their best mate or loved one and belt their hearts out in unison, as have Magic Hour and I’m So Lonely. The almighty encore came in the form of the driving spectral force of Free Me, followed by the hedonistic power-pop of Alright, the opening track of All Change. It’s fair to say the crowd descended into a frenzy straight from its strident opening chords right through to the last glorious chimes of guitars.
A blinder of a performance that served as both a welcome trip back in time to the hedonistic heydays of a bygone musical era, and a stark reminder that Cast have lost none of their magic touch two decades on.
Reviewed by Dean Hodge
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