Whether Chris Catalyst pays himself overtime for gigs like this, we’d like to ask, but here we are with The Chris Catalyst Band opening tonight – but only after his eBay auction has ended (it might have been that he checked his laptop to turn his sequencer on….). TCCB is not, in truth, a million miles away from the main job, but only because the concept of writing melody and tunes comes naturally. He starts with the superbly quirky “Make Good Art” – which like many of these is from his “Kaleidoscopes” record. “A King Of Everything” is a little more straight up, while he reasons that he probably won’t be the last to die in Eureka Machines so we should all enjoy “A Modern Adventure” while we still can. “Yeah (Oh No)” merrily deals with the power of positive thinking and there is a sense of fun that pervades the likes of “Wake Me Up On Monday”, with its all-encompassing harmonies. “The Ride” by contrast is an odd slice of Electronica, which seems to be the reason for the Chris Catalyst Band. It gives him a freedom to be whatever he chooses. Maybe that’s why the last song “Happy” is a perfect summation. The next line is simple. “Being me”. And, that’s the point, right there.
“And The Return Of Grand Theft Audio” says the poster for tonight. That’s a big deal to some. I know because I am one of them. GTA were, back then, sometime around the end of the century, the boys most likely, the boys who melded dance and punk and whatever they chose on their one brilliant record. Back then it was a new thing. Right now, watching them “Stoopid Ass” – which they do around halfway through – you do wonder why it never happened for them. Anyway, fast forward 21 years since their last show and singer Jay Butler is worried: “I’ve never been so nervous!” he reasons. “I can’t even work the TV and I’ve got to remember these tunes.” He need not have been concerned, as “Death To The Infidels” the-should-have-been-a smash of “We Luv U” and the aforementioned “….Ass” sound as good as they ever did – and perhaps this is the passage of time, but they sound more raw. This version of the band (live at least) includes Rob Lane on bass and Ben Marsden on lead and there’s a genuine, authentic air of danger as Butler spends most of his time in the crowd (“I want to make it like my living room”). They don’t do my favourite from back when I was boring anyone that would listen about a band who was going to revolutionise things, the dumb anthem of “Rock The House”, but there’s a smattering of new stuff to make up for it. Best of them, is “Gods Of Rock”. A big, brash sneering slice of sloganeering, which luxuriates in the thought that “the rock gods will hate you for this.” Not a care is given to that, or any other naysayer in forty joyous minutes, which prove that Grand Theft Audio are back.
Of all the things I expected tonight, a rendition of Russ Abbot’s “Atmosphere” wasn’t top of the list. But this is Eureka Machines. So forget what you think and go with the flow. Their trademark black shirts and white ties donned (its about a million degrees in KK’s tonight so fair play to them) its 75 minutes of fun.
They might begin with their “eureka” moment (if you will) of “Champion The Underdog” (not only one of my favourite songs but the only one in history to mention Fred Dibbnah – I haven’t checked this but I suspect I don’t need to) but its far from the only diamond in this.
“Story Of My Life”, “Brainwaves” and wherever you care to stick the pin in this particular map are all bound by their fun, their cleverness and their hooks. And when you add in the fact that Catalyst and his gang look like they are genuinely having fun here, it makes for quite the, well, atmosphere.
“Being Good Is Ok (But Being Better’s Better)” is the type of sugar coated power pop that Honeycrack fans have looked for ever since, “(I’m) Wasting My Time (Yet Again) isn’t far behind.
“Paranoia” is a mighty slice of work (and might have been one of ones he meant he jokingly looked at the setlist and said “oh Christ, there’s some tough ones to play”) likewise, the action packed “Dancing In The Dark” (not a cover) and the wordy “These Are The People Who Live In My House” are superb. There’s no encore either, which always gets bonus points, as does the overtly pop “Wish You Were Her”.
There’s a togetherness here with the band and their fans. A family feel, if you like. More than once songs are dedicated to fans who have found times tough, and “Wasting My Time” must have meant a lot to the woman who got mentioned before it was played. Indeed, that feeling runs right to the end and a song they don’t usually play, “We’re Going To The Future” concludes things in a more serious fashion, as it reckons the universe always has a way of righting itself.
Of course, on evenings like this, you know, its tough to disagree.