CAGE THE ELEPHANT “Shake Down” O2 Academy Brixton
“Don’t give into hate” – says the band after they round up a majestic show.
The O2 Academy lights up the Brixton street this cold Friday night, decorated for the occasion with ‘Cage The Elephant’ followed by two promising words – ‘Sold Out’.
The queue, stretching all the way down the street is fluttering with anticipating fans, and the mood certainly does not dip after encouraging warm-up effort in the courtesy of youngster, Declan McKenna and Spring King.
Entering the stage drenched in blood-red light, the American outfit jumps straight into Cry Baby taken from their 2015 release, Tell Me I’m Pretty. Fronted by charismatic Matt Shultz, Cage The Elephant go full energy from the start. Their thundering guitar and infectious rhythm has the crowd clenching the barrier, screaming, already after the first tune.
Not wasting any time, they follow up with debut classic, In One Ear. Matt is all over the place. Well known for his electric performance, he is running, dancing, throwing his body around with a reckless energy whilst still, somehow, keeping full control of the show.
“We actually started here in London,” Matt says. “In Hackney, before it was trendy.” Anthem Aberdeen has the crowd go ballistic. Daniel Tichenor’s seductive bassline and Jared Champion’s precise percussion lays down the meticulous grounding upon which the slapping, screaming guitar and vocals excel.
Slowing down with Too Late To Say Goodbye, there is still a sinister flare to the prolonged chords. The twisted darkness and seductive nature of the tune blooms in Brixton Academy that is completely transfixed by the men of the night.
The set can definitely be described as a greatest hits set. Though Cage The Elephant have not had a huge charts success they do have a loyal and big following, and they make the greatest effort in order to please their fans. Next up is Cold Cold Cold, which turns into a massive sing along egged on by Matt Shultz vigorous stage presence.
“London! It’s a pleasure to be back and to be here with you guys,” a grateful Matt says. “Keep moving”, he follows as the band emerge into Trouble. There truly Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked as they play this banger straight up, keeping the tunes coming hard and fast. Shultz waltz around the stage, mirroring the energetic frenzy of the crowd. “I’m looking out at all you beautiful people singing the words back to me and it means so much. It’s special – so I want to say thank you,” he states, glancing out on the packed Brixton Academy.
Back Against The Wall leads to a complete chaos. The melodic opening gives guitarist, Brad Shultz, a moment to shine as the guitar-led escalation of the tune really showcase Shultz incredible transitions as he rounds up the tune in a total mayhem of noise. Closing the main set is hazy Come A little Closer leaving a stunned impression as Cage The Elephant step off the stage.
However, it does not take long before Matt Shultz is back, armed with an acoustic guitar. “It’s a pleasure to be here. It really is special. So I’m gonna do something I never do, since we started out here and all. I might get the lyric wrong so help me out,” he asks as he starts playing Right Before My Eyes. This truly is special, and as Shultz sings, “Right before my eyes I saw the whole world lose control” you hear the echo of thousands of voices singing back fill the room.
Matt is re-joined by the rest of the band for Cigarette Daydreams, and blasting Shake Me Down. Their biggest anthem fluctuates between stoic grandness with hard-hitting drumwork and layered guitars, and Shultz phenomenal vocal effort backed simply single chords.
Rounding off with Teeth, Cage The Elephant give a bombastic finish to the night. The set has showcased all their best sides with capturing sentiment and a transcendent honesty in their craft as musicians.
As the band walks off stage, Matt hesitates. “I feel compelled to say something about what’s going on in the world,” he says, addressing the crowd directly on this night of Trump’s inauguration. “Don’t give into hate. It’s time for the majorities in the world to stand up for the minorities.”
Photos:Aurora Henni Krogh