I last saw Cage The Elephant stampede through a London venue in 2011. That time it was at The Garage. My lingering memory of this monstrously energetic show is that of singer Matt Shultz’s frenetic, wild abandon in crowd-surfing, at one point returning to the stage missing one shoe. A small sacrifice to the gods of stage-diving, perhaps, but the symbolism of merging with a crowd, and leaving changed in some way, has stuck with me.
Five years later and the Kentucky-originating, genre-defying, rock-garage-punk-alt-pop band are playing a packed out show at The Forum. Originally planned for west London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the show was moved to north London at fairly late notice, due to SBE’s continuing emergency repair work on its roof. Tonight, The Forum is in severe danger of having its own roof raised.
The show kicks off with Cry Baby, the opening track from their latest album, Tell Me I’m Pretty. Clearly keen on opening with openers, it’s followed by In One Ear (the first track from 2008‘s self-titled debut album) and then Spiderhead (the first track on 2013’s Melophobia).
It would be hard for a novice to pick out the new songs from the setlist, as they receive as much gloriously enthusiastic response as Cage The Elephant’s earlier, well-loved favourites.
Who could say that the irresistible Mess Around was less familiar than the hotly anticipated Back Against The Wall, or that the haunting grandeur of Too Late To Say Goodbye was any less relished than the sweeping and delicious Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked?
Cage The Elephant more than simply recreate their distinctive yet curiously varied sound, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The band’s secret weapon live is Matt’s explosively captivating performance. Channeling Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and a host of dynamic band leaders, Matt’s constant jumping, dancing, crowd-surfing and encouragement of the crowd is electrifying.
The show ends with Come A Little Closer before they return for a three song encore of Cigarette Day Dreams, Shake Me Down and the final blow of Sabertooth Tiger. For the last track, Matt throws himself into the audience. The song descends into feedback and the rest of the band leave the stage, while Matt floats across the top of the crowd, standing up several times, ending up at the stairs at the side of the venue, before climbing up and diving back into the sea of welcoming hands.
A fittingly wild end to a strangely joyful live show. The elephant may be caged but these musicians are wonderfully free and will continue to surf over your head.
Cage The Elephant @ The Forum.
Interview with Cage The Elephant will be coming soon.
Live Review and Photography By Imelda Michalczyk. February 11, 2016.
Imelda has her own great personal website here: www.rebeladelica.com
Cage The Elephant here:https://www.cagetheelephant.com