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Cat Empire a Ruling Force

Cat Empire a Ruling Force

Who: The Cat Empire, Scaddabox
Where: Newcastle Panthers
Author: Jade Lazarevic
When: Wednesday October 13, 2004

THERE is no denying the amazing rise of THE CAT EMPIRE. In the past 12 months, the band has released one of the most celebrated Australian albums of 2003 and spent a large part of the year delighting audiences with energetic live shows across Australia and abroad.

With its popularity continuing to grow, The Cat Empire has graduated from the small stages and will present its biggest Newcastle show to date when it plays NEWCASTLE PANTHERS on Wednesday, October 13.

Although it has only been in the past year The Cat Empire has made its mark, the roots of the band were established more than a decade ago.

Percussionist and vocalist FELIX RIEBL and keyboardist and banjo player OLLIE MCGILL laid the foundations as 12-year-olds growing up in Melbourne.

The pair eventually teamed up with remaining members HARRY J ANGUS, WILL HULL-BROWN, RYAN MONRO and JAMSHID KHADIWALA, and the musical kaleidoscope that is The Cat Empire was born.

The Cat Empire began playing small jazz clubs such as THE BASEMENT in Sydney and, as word spread about its infectious blend of Latino, reggae, gypsy rhythms and funky beats, the band found itself in demand.

Soon, The Cat Empire was playing all over the world.

All aged in their early 20s, the members of The Cat Empire spent Easter 2003 playing Byron Bay's EAST COAST BLUES AND ROOTS FESTIVAL before jumping on a plane to the UK, where they made a return appearance at the EDINBURGH FESTIVAL. In 2002, they had played a memorable 16-night run in the 3am-to-5am slot.

Despite the late hour, by the end of their stay they were packing out the room every night.

Other festival appearances included READING in the UK and shows in Singapore in 2003 and this all before the release of an album.

The Cat Empire released its eagerly anticipated self-titled debut in October 2003. It has already gone platinum in Australia.

By the time HOMEBAKE hit Sydney in December 2003, the buzz surrounding The Cat Empire was deafening.

In between appearances at the FALLS FESTIVAL in Victoria and Tasmania, The Cat Empire played Melbourne's FEDERATION SQUARE on New Year's Eve. It played before about 150,000 people .

``To play there was wonderful we were playing for the people, but also for the city itself,'' Riebl said .

``When I was younger, I spent so much time walking around that area, thinking of songs and all sorts of different things. That made it a really significant event for me.'' Riebl said playing to such a broad range of audiences had allowed the band to take big performances in its stride.

``I suppose the fact we've grown up playing jazz on one level and also having big, big parties on another level lets us cope with that,'' Riebl said.

``Some nights we were playing shows to 10,000 people at a big festival, which was fantastic, and the next night we'd play a jazz club, and the next night we'd play an underground party.

``Some nights we'd stay at five- star hotels and some nights we'd be sleeping above a bowling alley.

I guess this is in line with our music it can change so much, depending on what the room's like.'' The Cat Empire has already completed a 35-show sell-out tour of Australia this year, playing to more than 100,000 people in eight weeks.

During this time, the band supported JAMES BROWN on his SOULED OUT ON FUNK TOUR, and returned to the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

The Cat Empire play Newcastle Panthers on Wednesday, October 13, with special guests SCADDABOX as part of the ON THE ATTACK DVD TOUR. The Cat Empire's new DVD On The Attack will be released on September 13.

Advance tickets to the concert cost $25.

They are $30 on the door.

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