Cast, Preston, 53 Degrees
A sell-out in the upstairs room of this seemingly-mothballed UCLan venue proved beyond doubt that Cast are as relevant today as when they made their groundbreaking early albums.
Theseminal four-piece put on a stonking set on Brook Street, output from 2012 reformation album Troubled Times and beyond suggesting the band’s sixth album will be another winner.
But it was tracks from best-selling ‘95 debut All Change and ‘97 follow-up Mother Nature Calls that went down best, on a night that showcased the staying power of the songwriting craft of John Power across the years.
The main support carried on where openers Flight of Arrows set off, and we could be hearing a lot more from The Sherlocks, this young Sheffield quartet offering proper stage presence.
At times they echoed the Arctic Monkeys (not least the accents and delivery), Babyshambles and fellow sibling-heavy Yorkshiremen The Cribs, but that’s no bad thing.
And among their quirkier moments, a few sing-along choruses signposted a couple of future hits. I’ll watch their progress with interest.
Pretty soon, we had Liverpool’s alternative Three Graces up front, JP flanked by the hirsute Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson and Pete Wilkinson’s replacement Jay Lewis.
In fact, hirsute is an understatement with wild man of rock Skin, while bass buddy Jay and drummer Keith O’Neill are – on this evidence – working on their own peacenik presence, making me wonder at times if I’d chanced upon the set of Fraggle Rock.
Keith stoked the engine throughout, in his element. In fact, the quarter seemed genuinely pleased to be out there, still coming up with the goods.
They didn’t pander to the hits, warming up with La’s-like opener Time Bomb and Not Afraid of the World from their 2012 comeback before four tracks from All Change got the crowd truly moving.
The rousing exuberance of Tell It Like It Is (and yes, it gets better each time) and Promised Land led to Sandstorm and Fine Time, this packed-out venue’s clientele elevated to cloud ‘95. They must have played those songs a heap of times, but still seem genuinely inspired.
See That Girl was next, the band back to Troubled Times with another timeless melody suggesting a nod to JP’s first band, with Liam and Jay’s harmonies spot on and the frontman’s delivery always impassioned, seemingly forever on the fringes of losing his voice.
Beyond the wondrous new track Baby Blue Eyes was the gorgeous I’m so Lonely, Guiding Star and a wistful Live the Dream, reminding us of the strength of the second album, while non-album single Flying had us on a further high.
We were back to that 20-year-old debut LP for crowd favourite Walk Away before a guitar-laden Free Me from ‘97, its ravishing riff building to a mountain of Who-some noise, Keith playing us out in namesake Moon territory.
For the encore, a laid-back Four Walls fed into a truly baggy History, Jay leading on bass as the band reached a monumental peak, anthemic finale Alright seeing us flying on swift on our journey home.