Leaving your fans waiting nine years for your first visit to their country is a potentially dangerous tactic, building expectation to almost impossible levels. But when it comes off as well as it did for The Cat Empire last Friday night, it seems like they planned the whole thing in advance. When State saw the band play in Calgary during the summer, a warning was issued that this Dublin date might well be the party of the year. The sold out venue was packed with eager Irish fans and Australian ex-pats all itching to get their feet moving and throughout the band’s solid two-hour set, the wild party atmosphere continued to build exponentially until a riotous encore.
State arrived slightly late. Late enough to miss their arrival onstage, but early enough that by the time lead singer Felix Riebl uttered his first words into the mic, our camera shutter was clattering in his direction. Beginning their set at 8:30pm sharp was an indicator that they meant business and we were likely to be on the receiving end of a lengthy set. They obliged with a relentless selection of old hits like ‘Hello’ and ‘Two Shoes’, which got the elated crowd singing as well as they moved, while songs from their newest album, Cinema, like ‘The Heart Is A Cannibal’ allowed Harry Angus to impress with his skills on trumpet, vocals and beat-boxing duties.
While pockets of animated dancers threw flailing limbs around every corner of The Academy, it seemed that everyone in attendance knew that this was the kind of gig where being doused with the flying beverages of others is unavoidable. Nobody minded; this was a party that nobody wanted to stop. When the Melbourne group finally left the stage, the stampeding call for an encore felt like it was threatening the structural integrity of the building. Returning with the stamina test of ‘The Wine Song’ – which brought the delirium of the crowd to new levels – followed by a slow one in the form of ‘Reasonably Fine’, it was only ever going to be their declaration of musical intent, ‘The Chariot’ that would end the night. This was the kind of night that made sense of the idealistic lyrics of that song from the band’s early days. An atmosphere of peace and unbridled joy emanated from the venue as the masses continued to sing the brassy melodies out onto the street while hoping it won’t be another nine year wait for the Empire’s next visit.