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Live Review: The Cat Empire w/ The Pierce Brothers @ The Tivoli

AAA - The Cat Empire @ The Tivoli 18:25

On a Friday night in Brisbane at The Tivoli, fans of the jazzy-ska-funky sound filled the venue for an evening of non-stop dance to Melbourne 8-piece The Cat Empire. Identical twins Jack and Pat Pierce, more commonly known as The Pierce Brothers, opened up the show with high spirits getting the crowd dancing early on. They took a moment to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, which was no wonder as their music is clearly culturally inspired by indigenous Australians with didgeridoo featuring in many of their songs. 

The duo were reminiscent of Mumford & Sons but still had a strong Aussie sense of humour, introducing one of their songs as “our really miserable sad love song that we really love because we’re self-absorbed dickheads”. With Jack Pierce drumming every possible item he could get his hands on, including his brothers guitar and the stair railings that lead up to the balcony, The Pierce Brothers were the perfect warm up to the main act.

The Cat Empire kicked off their set with Wolves, which placed #79 in triple j’s 2015 Hottest 100. The stage set up used the artwork from their latest album ‘Rising With The Sun’ and made use of spinning features and different lights to create a beautiful kaleidoscope effect. It’s funny how jazz music done right can create the same reaction as an epic drop in EDM music, with plenty of The Tivoli crowd going from slowly getting pumped to head banging within moments.

AAA - The Cat Empire @ The Tivoli 22:25

In the middle of the set all three brass members of The Cat Empire performed what could only be described as a “brass-off” in the middle of the stage, with trombonists and trumpeters trying to outshine each other. Lead vocalist Felix Riebl pointed out this show was actually a momentous occasion, being the 21st show they had played at The Tivoli. Fittingly the stage featured a “2” and “1” balloon, which kept managing to get twisted and spell out “12” instead of “21.”’

Each member of The Cat Empire was given their moment to shine during the set, starting with a long piano solo from Ollie McGill followed by Will Hull-Brown on drums. Even Jamshid ‘Jumps’ Khadiwala on the decks had a solid five minutes of scratching and sampling soloing. The Cat Empire seem to be one of the few bands who put their other instruments above their vocalists, and with the talent each of them ooze it’s entirely justified.

AAA - The Cat Empire @ The Tivoli 3:25

They “finished” the night on All Night Long before The Tivoli crowd yelled out for an encore, with some deciding to go against the usual “one more song” and insist on “two more songs.” Instead of seeing the whole band return to the stage, McGill took the opportunity to once again show off his fast fingers and incredible virtuoso keyboard ability with a 10-minute solo, which trumpeter and vocalist Harry Angus insisted was just the introduction before the rest of the band joined them on stage for The Wine SongThe band ended the night on possibly one of their most popular songs The Chariot, leading the whole crowd to sing along with passion whilst jumping around to the jazzy intervals.

The Cat Empire will always be one of the most enjoyable bands to see live. Their mix of fun fast tempo jazzy tunes, to slower latin inspired songs, the band always satisfy both loyal and new fans. The 8-piece never fail to make the audience feel a part of their shows and with a discography six albums long (and counting) you never know what combination of songs you’ll get to hear. So to the twisted limbs, the hoarse voices, and the sore feet from singing and dancing the night away, we salute you The Cat Empire!

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