LIVE REVIEW: Cat Empire at Stuart Park 12/02/17

Stuart Park in Wollongong has become a popular place for events by Yours and Owls, most notably their annual music festival. Sunday 12th of February saw Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd perform, supported by HARTS, Ocean Alley and Sahara Beck, at the beautiful location right next to the water. The concert had a real festival feel, running for most of the day and featuring food and drink vendors. The re-emergence of daytime festivals featuring alternative music is exciting considering the unfortunate cancellation of many Sydney festivals including Big Day Out and Soundwave. Events like this are also a great way to draw people to the Wollongong area; some concert-goers had travelled over two hours to see their favourite bands perform.

The hot weather of the previous few weeks eased up for the concert, resulting in a perfect, if a little cloudy day. The event began as 18+ only during the ticket sales but was made all-ages later on, meaning there were a lot of families set up to enjoy the music. HARTS, Ocean Alley and Sahara Beck were the bands to kick off the day and warm everyone up for the bigger acts later in the afternoon and evening.

Xavier Rudd put on a stellar performance with his band, featuring long jams melting into each other to create a set with a continuous soundscape. Rudd holds an interest and connection with Aboriginal culture and incorporated didgeridoo into his performance, something that not many artists do well but that was in this case was highly effective and haunting. He also featured harmonica solos, another musical foray that many musicians fail to do justice, done beautifully by Rudd and his band. Rudd’s distinctive sound was evident but he managed to put his own modern twist on his reggae/world style with bass drops and keyboard. His lyrics and between-song banter captured his music’s socially conscious theme, as he spoke about Aboriginal culture and the environment and land.

Cat Empire took to the stage later on with a brilliant sunset as the backdrop, which of course prompted a sea of mobile phones to appear to capture it. This didn’t dull the special moment however, and the beautiful sight set the mood for the show, which was that of a typical Cat Empire gig – friendly, fun and a feel-good time. A highlight of Cat Empire’s performance was the instrument solos – even the harmonica (played by Xavier Rudd) and the drummer got the chance for an extended, wild solo. This cemented Cat Empire as not only true entertainers, but very technically skilled musicians. Cat Empire is a band that just makes you want to get up at dance, but at one point one of the frontmen got the entire crowd to sit down for the quiet introduction of their hit ‘All Night Loud’ before jumping up again to the famous trumpet hook. Cat Empire put on a fun high-energy and finished off the day nicely.

The success of this even hopefully heralds many more events and festivals at Stuart Park and other locations in Wollongong, giving music-lovers more opportunities to get out and enjoy their local area and some fantastic music to go with it.

Feb 21st 2017 | Daisy Loomes

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