Cassia, Alfie Neale, Tilly Louise, Hollows: The Zanzibar, Liverpool



Never did we ever expect a band from Macclesfield to bring a carnival atmosphere to The Zanzibar, yet that is exactly what our man David Hughes enjoyed.

Cassia are an interesting band, having risen in the early days of Facebook ads with their first single, Moana, they’ve grown from strength to strength ever since. Earlier this year they released their debut record, Replica, which went straight into the Top 10 of the Albums chart.

Their twelve nights tour has eight of those already sold out as they hit the middle of their road trip at Liverpool, which is 100% sold out.

It’s pretty impossible to move around the venue before the first act is even on. The buzz and anticipation in The Zanzibar tonight is unreal.

First up is a band called Hollows, who, by the hand tattoos and black nail varnish, we should have guessed were not going to be a similar vibe to Cassia. That being said, it’s a great vibe to open the show.

The Manchester 3-piece sound like a mixture between a million different things, from your favourite 00s emo bands, to the Arctic Monkeys, to 90s indie. It’s the perfect start, but with the room being fairly hard to get going at first, it takes the big gun guitar solos and a dour, yet charming stage presence to try and get them into it, and they oblige.

Up next is Tilly Louise, who charms the crowd from the off. Her groovy, upbeat, at some point almost jazzy tunes get the real party started, with some audience participation allowing for everyone to get a bit more into it.

With her excellent band behind her, Tilly shines, and midway through her set she whips out a cover of Hard Times by Paramore, which goes down a treat with her fan club; shouts of ‘Tilly, Tilly, Tilly’ ringing in the air.

It’s clear to see that groovy, riff based influence on her own music, with it being impossible to stand still throughout the entire set – hips are swinging.

It was lovely to notice Cassia standing in the wings cheering her on and clapping along, something you don’t see a lot from other headline artists, but showing that Tilly’s talent is evident for all to see.

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Alfie Neale was up next, with his soulful, yet at times husky voice complementing his perfect backing band.

His sound is an enigma, with some groovy 80s inspired guitar licks, with an overall 70s jazz sound pushing to the front. A bit of saxophone here and there complements the vibe perfectly, yet the odd white boy rapping style juxtaposing that vibe every now and then.

He manages to get some audience participation involved as well, but his chiller vibe fails to captivate the whole room, with the sound of laughter and general chat overwhelming most people’s ears, which is disappointing as he has a great sound and definitely deserves a better response.

Last up is the band everyone’s been waiting for the whole night, and the chatter and laughter certainly stops.

Cassia walk on to some pure tropical vibes, bongos going off with some natural sounds you’d find in a rainforest. The Zanzibar would seem like the perfect setting, with the jungle netting on the ceiling providing even more of a Cassia ‘carnival vibe’.

Starting with Loosen Up, the room starts to do that and the dance moves are unveiled by the people in the middle of the room. The bongos and grooving bass lines complement the sexy guitar riffs and that amazing voice of lead singer Rob Ellis perfectly, with everyone in the room bouncing.

The Zanzibar usually has a limited array of lights, however Cassia decided to bring their own. With the room lit up like a Christmas tree, through the smoke, Cassia look like the coolest band in the world; certainly, they are one of the best live bands in the country at the moment.

Being named runners up for the Best Live Act at the AIM Awards this year proves that, with the energy of the band continuous throughout the night. They sound exactly how they do on record, which is a difficult thing for a band of their stature to achieve, so kudos for that as well.

They move through their set with ease, each song bringing another level of euphoria to the room.

Usually at this sort of gig, there’s the odd song that brings down the moment, or that certainly feels like it doesn’t fit in the set, however this couldn’t be further from the truth with this band, every song feeling like a hit, making it difficult to single out individual songs that were great – they were all great.

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DreamA towards the end of the set brings a bit of a chiller vibe, but in a captivating way, which sees the drummer simultaneously playing a synth and the drums; the musicianship in this band is second to none.

The usual ear fatigue of a night like this with four bands on doesn’t hit, as we all want more from this band, but sadly it must end, with Moana and 100 Times Over to end.

These both receive the best crowd response as shoulders are clambered upon and it’s difficult to hear the band over the screaming and shouting of lyrics back to them.

This was the perfect night for this band, who are likely set to continue their fast rise through the ranks.

They continue their tour this week, back at home at the 1000+ capacity Manchester Cathedral, with support from Marsicans.

That should be one hell of a gig.




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