Cats in Space

Queen's Hall, Hexham

9 September 2021

I like the Queen's Hall, but it strikes me as an odd choice of venue for this band. It doesn't seem that Hexham would be a hotbed of rock and roll fandom, and how many people are really going to make the journey from Newcastle on a work night, especially in the current climate?

Well, quite a few. The venue wasn't packed but it was comfortably full.

So here I am, for the first time in a looong time feeling like I'm having a proper life, being where I should be, shoulder-to-shoulder in a hot and sweaty room with the familiar anticipation as the support band packs up and the PA starts playing songs you actually recognise, and the lights dim, and the band comes on ...

... and the sound is horrible for the first two songs, a muddy mix that threatens to ruin the show, but it quickly gets sorted and lets us hear that Cats in Space are seriously awesome.

Cats in Space are an anomaly: a relatively new band, but formed by guys who have been around for a long time, so although they have a very classic rock band aesthetic the material is all new and fresh, and they work incredibly hard to win you over with it. Seasoned professionals with immaculate stagecraft and a great bunch of songs, but not just a nostalgia act coasting on a greatest hits set. It's all terribly unfashionable: twin lead guitars trading solos, melodic keyboards, a proper rock screamer, all underpinned by thundering drums and bass. There's nothing arty or pretentious about this band, there's just superb, polished, melodic rock with big sing-along choruses. It's proper rock, and it's glorious.

Cats in Space formed 30 years too late to have the arena-headlining success they deserve, but as long as they keep coming out and playing material like this with this kind of joy and enthusiasm, they're always going to find an audience who value such things. Even in Hexham.

Cats in Space are the best 80s band you never heard of, and this was the best concert I've ever seen.