Socially distancing isn’t all that bad when Jack Cattell and his band are on the stage at Deadwax, Digbeth.
Last night was a step into the new normal for myself and many others at Jack Cattell’s headline show at Deadwax Digbeth, with additional support from Cotter and Genevieve Miles. Cotter opened the show with an acoustic set showcasing the material he had written over lockdown. I had the pleasure to catch Genevieve’s powerful performance where she was delighted to be back on stage and gave us a glimpse of her glowing aura (seriously, I’ve never seen someone so happy on stage –– it was lovely).
People were passed around an envelope which said on the front “A small thank you from Jack Cattell”, and inside it was a postcard-sized thank you note, however, some also included the chance to win a physical copy of their EP, single and t-shirt; it came off as quite gratuitous, it’s the little things that really make a gig now. I better not forget to mention Jack giving it large to Genevieve’s cover of ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’. Sorry mate, couldn’t help bringing it up.
After a couple of hours of glorious support acts, Jack Cattell stepped on stage for the first time since before lockdown and the first time as a four-piece. The energy instantly shifted on stage and throughout the room, no messing about now, this was business.
A brash greeting: “Welcome to the fucking show!” and they fiercely snapped into gear, opening the set with ‘Howl’ which demonstrates an electric riff that bounces through the air and vocals that literally howl with massive energy!
Instantly moving in to ‘Just Keep Trucking On’ with unrelenting drums to carry the sound into a much faster version of the song, the high pace they kept for a lot of the music fits them perfectly as a four-piece band now. Jack’s voice absolutely echoed through the tent on this one!
It was then that I realised this wasn’t just a run of the mill gig, it was a performance to set a standard to. More than just playing a few songs on stage for the first time in months, it was a performance so natural and instinctive the stage had already been made their own, and not once did it feel like the venue had been vacant for so long.
The relaxed riff from Jack’s guitar and a rattle from Josh’s drums, the band came out swinging for ‘Your Royal Highness’. As the chorus moves in Anton proves his exceptional skill to play guitar so effortlessly from such a young age and to get on stage in front of so many people takes a lot of confidence for most grown adults but at just eighteen years old? It’s unheard of. Hats off to him! ‘Sunshine’ made an attempt to incorporate the crowd in the show more, not really getting the response they were after they took it in their stride and Jack killed it never the less with his thundering voice on this laid back tune.
‘The Cowboy Blues’ opened with a cheeky little drum solo, Jack and Anton both vibing off each other whilst Alyson’s bass supports. I copped a few people having a little jig in their chairs to the catchy tune which whacked an even bigger smile on my face. The unreleased ‘London Town’ snuck its way in to the set for Jack’s girlfriend on FaceTime all the way from the big smoke itself. “She’s got the right idea,” he says cheekily, alongside a heartfelt cheer for her. “Sha la la la la,” the track opens, it’s a slower-paced tune that Jack’s vocals work really well on, they feel gritty almost and it benefits the song massively. This one really was heartwarming knowing his girlfriend was tuning in.
‘Come Back’ made a second attempt at crowd interaction with its chorus, to which people responded better to it this time. That’s something I have huge respect for, Jack wasn’t afraid of getting stuck in at making the show more about the people who have kindly came and sold out the venue out rather than “Here you go listen to some of our songs”.
Going on to mention that he managed to stay busy in lockdown with writing music we got a look at a new track titled ‘Living For The Weekend’. As the title suggests the lyrics focus on drinking on a weekend… something that we all can live for and relate to. One line went along the lines of “Find the answer to your problems at the bottom of a bottle”. It hit me then and there that the stage presence was brilliant and top level. ‘Ordinary’ hit the nail on the head, honestly, a clinical tune live with a belter of a hook in there and by the end of it, Anton snapped a string and Josh did the same with a drum stick. If that isn’t a testament to how fast the song was played, I don’t know what is.
‘Love Me’ was used as a pathway to formally introduce everyone, which when each of them were, they played a little solo of their own, which Alyson’s bass sounded wicked for. It also highlighted the supreme chemistry they all have with each other when they loosen up and have the crack. ‘Home’ moved quickly as songs usually do when you know the end is near, but that wasn’t the end just yet! A sort of organised encore begins within the set ending with ‘Good Old Mr. Daniel’s’ if you’ve never listened to this before, I’ll just let you do yourself a favour and let the tune speak for itself.
One last big clap and cheer for the band and that was it. Well done to Jack Cattell and support for putting an absolute cracker on alongside Birmingham promoters. Not a bone in my body regrets going and checking the show out, turns out socially distanced gigs aren’t all that bad at all.