Cage the Elephant – Unity Works, Wakefield – 19.02.16

Cage the Elephant – Unity Works, Wakefield – 19.02.16

The elephant was out of its cage tonight

The Kentucky quintet venture to Wakefield tonight touring their fourth studio album, Tell me I’m Pretty. That’s right Wakefield. But how will the seasoned American rockers fare deep t’up north? 

Frontman Matthew Shultz unsurprisingly acknowledges in the set that it’s his first time in the sleepy West Yorkshire town, that boasts a few bargain watering holes. It’s the kind of place where everyone has such a thick northern accent that you’re uncertain if a stranger is seconds away from starting a fight, or just being friendly. Anyway, judging from the tireless response from the crowd tonight, I’m sure they’ll be back pronto.

Cage the Elephant immediately make a stomp on their opening song ‘Cry Baby’. It’s volume is so skull rattling that you can imagine Dumbo whimpering in the corner. It’s is a combination of 60’s blues, gnarly bass lines and pure grit, a theme of their recent album. Perhaps unsurprising since it was produced by Black Keys maestro Dan Auerbach.

Second up, rather shockingly, is the quintets classic ‘In One Ear’. The all-aged crowd don’t mind though, as the funk rock tune enters their ears and rattles their skulls viciously. It’s result sees the Yorkshire congregation put down their Red Stripe long enough to throw some shapes and immerse themselves in the funk.

What is most noticeable is frontman Schultz stage presence. Consistently through the set he tosses himself around in an Iggy Pop-esque manner. Clearly the band’s relentless touring has taken its toll. His posture is more bent over than when Rihanna performed ‘Work’ at the Brits with Drake. However, the real firecracker of a showman is a true spectacle, with all eyes fixated on him for the night.

If there is one criticism for tonight, it’s how quick Cage the Elephant go through their setlist. They rush through a twenty one song set like their on a mission to get to their Wakefield afterparty as quick as possible. Consequently, the lack of gaps between songs means that the crowds bleeding ears do not have any chance to make any recovery. Moreover, why does every crowd in the mining county consistently feel the need to shout “Yorkshiiiire” in football chanting manner? Just wondered.

Cage the Elephant finish their time in Wakefield off with a three song encore. Opener Cigarette Daydream is a harrowing insight into the softer side of the band, it’s chorus reaches a pensive melancholy where the crowd sway along. The penultimate song is autotune anthem Shake Me Down, it’s the moment that everyone has been waiting for, with Schultz and the crowd screaming every word like it’s the only moment that matters. Finally Cage the Elephant end with the ferocious beast of a song Sabertooth Tiger. It’s an unforgiving three minutes of metal break downs and spoken word which results in everyone losing their shit.

Anyway, I’m off to let my ears recover.


Words and photo by Tyler Hilborne

Tom Cadman