The entertainment this evening seems a mixed bag. Opening band, The Whybirds, favour a look straight out of an American high school student’s wardrobe circa 1970 and a sound somewhere between Status Quo 1984 and the Gavin and Stacey barn dance episode. Although these are all classic eras in their own right, there is also then obviously something dated about this band. Not to mention the fact that all of them seem to be the lead singer which just manages to confuse the hell out of me- it’s almost like they can’t decide on who gets to sing what song. This would be all well and good if they were Lennon and McCartney but their jangly rock and roll/ sometimes- tribute-to-Billy-Ray-Cyrus (albeit pleasantly harmonic) needs a bit more attention than that. As they widdle and wah their way through the set, proclaiming that they “feel love”, I, frankly don’t. And I get even more aggravated by the big encore-style finale, after which the drummer comes to the front of the stage to do probably yet another five minute speech during which he wants to thank the thirty or so fans for coming down this evening. Except someone turned his mic off. Shame.

Thankfully, The Mono Effect just get in there and get on with it. Yes, I may be accused of bias here but the kids down the front jumping about and chanting along agree that here is a band that deserve much more than what they have got. Unfortunately, it may be too late to realise this as, a week or so prior to this gig, three of the members announced that they were getting too old for the band and so subsequently left lead singer, Miba, figuring out his next move. As they launch into another half hour of melodic rock awesomeness, complete with very impressive light show to complement their equally as impressive sound, all four members, regardless, appear to be enjoying themselves (even those of them pushing twenty-nine). And by the time Miba jumps into the mini-crowd at the end of the set- wholeheartedly embraced by some newly-won fans- no-one is really sure why this band has near enough jacked it in. Tonight, they own it. Well, they could have done. I hope that TME come back soon and give it a proper go in another incarnation.

A good warm up for Cage the Elephant then. Not that there was any doubt that they would get the crowd going if all else failed. The girls scream almost immediately for the singer, Matt (does he have a long trunk perhaps? Arf, arf), lapping up the rhythmic grooves and funky blues guitar work in abundance and revelling in the kooky story-telling whilst not realising that what they are actually witnessing really amounts to a younger, more energetic Charlatans-meets-Beck combo. Just as well this old croc was in the audience to do a bit of analysis then.

Stuck somewhere between 90’s Madchester and lazy Americana then, here are five young lads for whom influences are obviously everything, Matt even emulating the crazed E-tinged dancing of Tim Burgess to near-imitation, jumping up and down for the entire length of the show. Perhaps he needs his own cage. Still, those who remember it first time round are glad of the revival and, as said, those that don’t, well, don’t. The crowd are appreciative, nay, totally adoring anyway, so when CTE launch into recent single “Ain’t no rest for the wicked”, an excitement explodes in colour and sound and I, for one, feel a sense of justice that the hard work this band have done to get where they are has paid off. Perhaps the extent of their journey is why then, what they lack in originality, they make up for with sheer charisma. Because I find out afterwards that they are also really really nice. Which puts them in good stead to stay on the top of their game for as long as they wish. Long may the beast remain on the rampage. Had to be said, innit.

Thanks to Fiona Byers at MVillage for sorting this for me and the plus one. Apologies this review has been a long time coming. My life has been taken over by the theory ‘live to work’. Yuk, yuk.

Anna C

See Steve Bateman's exclusive R*E*P*E*A*T Cage the Elephant pix