“It’s a pleasure to be here in Manchester” Catholic Action vocalist/guitarist Chris McCrory laughs. “After this tour, it’s safe to say that us and Kagoule are very close and personal friends”.
It’s rare that you get a support band as good as the headliner – but that’s exactly what tonight is all about. Nottingham’s Kagoule have chosen to end their first full-length UK tour in two years in Manchester – and joining them are Scottish pals Catholic Action, here to celebrate the release of their stunning debut album In Memory Of.
Kicking off with the ecstatic ‘Doing Well’, McCrory’s flared trousers and shirt combo making a flamboyant presence, the quartet immediately whip the crowd up into a frenzy with a strong opener that foreshadows the rest of the set.
Fan favourite ‘Rita Ora’ sees Jamie Dubber throw out some brilliantly syncopated bass riffs; the same’s continued in ‘Breakfast’, drummer Ryan Clark slowing things down a touch to match those plodding basslines. It’s astounding how heavy and neat Catholic Action sound live compared to on record – and they’re all the more better for it.
“We’ve got a quiet song next – and we’ve been debating which city would have the most tender audience” McCrory laughs, the crowd shushing each other as he breaks into In Memory Of’s closing track, ‘Stars and Stripes’. His vocals are goosebump-inducing, the songs’ opening accompanied by just his guitar before the four join him for the anthemic chorus. Judging by the mass movement in Soup Kitchen, Manchester’s audience for Catholic Action is anything but tender.
“Have we scared you off?” bassist Lucy Hatter laughs, pointing to the intriguing gap below her before the eager-to-please crowd rush right in to fill the space. Vocalist/guitarist Cai Burns laughs: “That’s sorted my OCD right out!”
Kicking off with 2016’s standalone single ‘Magnified’, it’s a grunge-heavy introduction to Kagoule that blows the room away. It’s immediately apparent that Lawrence English is one of the most talented drummers on the circuit; his beats are meticulously on time, crashing cymbals to heighten the atmosphere at pivotal points to create an electrical atmosphere.
It’s a set dominated by unreleased material as Kagoule gear up to drop their highly-anticipated Album Two. “I hope you like our new material because you have no say in the matter” Burns jokes, acknowledging the unknown tracks that go down a storm with a crowd previously unacquainted.
‘Glue’ sees Hatter bring some raw chorus yells to the table as Burns contrasts with his quieter tone; ‘It’s Not My Day’ conveys a more tender side to the trio, Hatter taking over lead. But it’s latest single ‘Monsieur Automaton’ that owns the set, the three’s strongest song to date that’s a storming success. After two years off the road, Kagoule are certainly back – and thanks to sets like this, the hype for their sophomore release continues to grow day by day.