As Cast celebrated 20 years of All Change with a special performance alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson saw their songs in a new light.
It’s become a bit of a rite of passage for iconic Liverpool bands. When two Merseyside musical greats join forces. A classic band and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. In the past couple of years we’ve seen the Lightning Seeds and Echo and the Bunnymen team up with RLPO for special shows at the Philharmonic Hall, before going on to play together again for a headline slot at Sefton Park‘s Liverpool International Music Festival.
This year is Cast‘s turn, with this the first of two gigs at the Philharmonic Hall seeing their music reworked with the orchestra. We don’t yet know if they too will be taking the show to LIMF 2016, but it’s probably a safe bet to assume so. All the signs are there that the shows are a bit of a package deal.
Not only is tonight’s show special because of the collaboration with the RLPO, but it is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of All Change, John Power and Co’s seminal debut album. The assumption when the show was announced was that they’d perform the record in full, yet the show is split in to two halves either side of an interval, and the result is somewhat a bit disjointed.
The first half featured a selection of tracks from the band’s back catalogue, where the second saw some of the big hitters from All Change getting an outing. The first half however, despite including some fan favourites such as Live the Dream and Guiding Star, fails to really grab the attention and probably highlights the strength of All Change, as most of Cast‘s big hits seem to come from that record.
Some lesser known tunes such as Alien from 1999’s Magic Hour and Dance of the Stars do really work with the orchestral backing, with soaring string sections giving them a huge lift, but the constant stream of audience members heading to the bar throughout the first half show that most would probably rather just see the hits. Live The Dream however is truly majestic, with huge, warm brass sounds giving it the feel of something from Sgt Pepper era Beatles.
The second half though is where things really take off. Featuring hits such as Sandstorm, Finetime, Walkaway and Alright, it is a reminder of what a brilliant record All Change really is. It feels as every track played in the second half is a big hitter, and this is reflected in the audience who by this point are now all stood up and dancing in the aisles.
The combination of Cast and the RLPO isn’t always perfect though. On more acoustic tracks such as Walkaway it does sound genuinely brilliant, but on big rock and rollers like Alright and Tell It Like It Is, the two sounds and styles seem to be at odds with each other. It could have been due to an imbalance in volume, but the orchestra at times don’t really add anything to the songs and are often drowned out by the huge, pounding drums and electric guitars.
On tonight’s showing Cast have certainly got the back catalogue of hits and still sound as energetic and youthful as ever for a headline show at LIMF 2016 to be a big success, but if it is to be as memorable and unique as Echo and the Bunnymen and The Lightning Seeds‘ respective sets, there is still a bit of fine tuning with the orchestra still to do.
Pictures by Getintothis’ John Johnson.