Cast are a contented band.
The veteran rockers are back on the road with a revised line-up ahead of a new album – and are clearly happy to be back out there,
Since bassist Pete Wilkinson left, to be replaced by Jay Lewis, frontman John Power admits it is a far happier, cohesive band – and they proved it with a great set in the smaller Academy2 room at Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
Opening with early hits Promised Land, Tell It Like It Is and Finetime show John is back at ease with a back catalogue he avoided playing for a number of years – and also put the crowd in great spirits, even before the affable Liverpudlian has addressed the venue for the first time.
After a stunning performance of 1996 top-10 hit Sandstorm, the band turn to the attention to new stuff – with John semi-apologising to the crowd for breaking up the impressive set of hits to play “new material you won’t know”, but which the band are “excited to share”.
Birdcage is Cast’s brand of anthemic guitar-rock at its very best, quickly followed by the title track of the forthcoming album, Kicking Up the Dust.
The self-indulgent Roar is probably the low point of the set, followed by the up-tempo Do That - a song to “wiggle your bums” too, says John.
Then it is back to the hits which brought Cast nationwide acclaim back in the late 1990s, quickly restoring the energy to the room.
Flying and Guiding Star almost become huge singalongs as John – clearly buoyed by Liverpool FC’s success in the Europa League and a steady intake of whisky – is backed by the hundreds packed into the venue.
Walkaway and Free Me – complete with a long drum solo by Keith O’Neill – end the set, but the band are quickly back for more.
New song Baby Blue Eyes, which John says he loves, opens the encore, followed by History and a heavy, guitar-laden Alright to end the 90-minute set on a high note.
A Finetime was had by all.