Monday, February 24, 2020

Cage The Elephant @ Olympia, Paris - February 24th, 2020

Last time we saw Cage The Elephant was six months ago in Queens when Brad Shultz' angular riffs and Matt Shultz histrionic stage presence electrified Forest Hills Stadium before Beck's triumphant headlining set. As brilliant and as energetic as they were, it was still an opening slot and it's never an easy task for a band to play in full daylight for someone else's audience. We've also seen them open for the Stones three nights in a row back in 2017, and that's even more of a thankless task. So we were looking forward to tonight's gig with a certain amount of trepidation: to finally see them in their element, in a human-sized concert hall, playing for their audience. The least we can say is that they didn't disappoint.

But whatever anticipation we might have been feeling was nothing next to the crowd's rabid reaction to Cage The Elephant's performance. The floor never stopped shaking throughout, with bodies jumping up and down, screaming every lyric and dancing to every beat.

The audience's frenzy was matched and even surpassed by frontman Matt Schultz' manic stage antics. Jumping and thrashing all around (and off) the stage like a madman, rolling around on the floor, leaping into the crowd... It was like seeing a cross between Steven Tyler and Iggy Pop... on speed.

Brad Shultz also manages to get some spotlight here and there but the rest of the band remains in a supporting role: competent but discreet. The stars is indisputably Brad.

Of course none of this would matter if the songs weren't great. They played our two favourites back to back early in the set: an intense version of Too Late To Say Goodbye, which never fails to get the old headbanger' muscles going, and Cold Cold Cold, the best garage rock song that isn't included on the Nuggets box set. Both are from 2015's Tell Me I'm Pretty, which was well represented. But the bulk of the set consisted of songs from their latest record Social Cues, including pummelling opener Broken Boy.

I still think of Cage The Elephant as a young band, but they've now been around over fifteen years. It's hard to believe their self-titled debut came out twelve years ago. That's because they still play with the energy, the ferocity and the audacity of a new act with everything left to prove. Which is what they do, nightly.

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