Live Music + Gig Reviews

Cast @ Forum, London

15 March 2024

The Liverpool guitar outfit return, mixing tracks from new album Love Is The Call with Britpop classics


Cast (Photo: PR)

Cast’s short headline tour to promote their seventh studio album Love Is The Call proves they are not just a ’90s nostalgia act. Of course – as audiences expect – at the Kentish Town Forum they play plenty of songs from their Britpop heyday, but they also perform most of the tracks from the new album.

Produced by Youth and reaching the Top 30, Love Is The Call is a bit of a comeback by the Scouse indie rockers, though their two previous releases had already showed they still have much to offer. This year has also seen resurgent albums by Kula Shaker (likewise getting to Number 22 in the charts) and Shed Seven (who remarkably hit the top spot). Following on from the high-note Blur and Pulp reunions last year, it seems Britpop is back, and not just going through the motions.

Cast have three-quarters of their early line-up: songwriter/singer/rhythm guitarist John Power, lead guitarist Liam “Skin” Tyson and drummer Keith O’Neill, with original bass player Peter Wilkinson replaced on this tour by former Lighting Seeds member Martyn Campbell. They gel nicely in a 90-minute set that is mainly made up of the new songs and those from their debut 1995 album All Change, plus some from follow-up Mother Nature Calls. They all get a positive response from the packed audience.

The band kick off with a couple of well-known hits from the past to loosen up the crowd, Sandstorm with its wah-wah guitar and Finetime (their first single) with its more jangly guitar sound, both with signature vocal harmonies. Then follow four tracks from Love Is The Call. The opener Bluebird (performed solo by Power) is a short, sweet, folksy ballad. The title track and first single has a big chorus and fuzzy bridge, while Love You Like I Do is equally catchy and The Rain That Falls includes a characteristic time-signature change when guitar pivots from squealing to chiming. Frontman Power tells the crowd to much applause: “Now it’s out there, it’s yours, the record’s yours now… it belongs to you.”

The band – like many in the audience – are in their mid to late 50s, but the enthusiasm still shines bright. The grey-locked Power (garbed in an army jacket over a red T-shirt proclaiming “Bill Shankly 1973 Liverpool”) starts off wearing glasses, until midway when he takes them off saying, “It must be a good night as my glasses are steaming up.” The hirsute Tyson (looking like he hasn’t had his hair or beard cut since the first Covid lockdown) makes excellent use of guitar effects pedals, while O’Neill’s drumming is as busy as ever and Campbell fits in seamlessly.

Reverting to All Change, Flying soars into the air and the wistful Walkaway inspires a singalong. From Mother Nature Calls, the familiar opening guitar chords usher in a stirring account of Guiding Star, while Free Me shows Cast at their most raunchy rock ’n’ roll with scorching guitar-playing from Tyson – before band members exit the stage leaving O’Neill to perform a drum solo as if relieving his excess energy.

For encores, Tell It Like It Is still exerts a rousing power, the staccato rhythm of History is sustained throughout four and a half minutes, and (perhaps inevitably) the band sign off with probably their best-known song Alright for a joyous end. Cast will be back in the early summer supporting Liam Gallagher on his 30th-anniversary tour of Oasis’s genre-defining debut album Definitely Maybe. Who said Britpop died at the end of the ’90s?

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