The Catherine Wheel Tour stopped off in LA with a gig at the Hollywood Grand on August 12th. I happened to go in the wrong door, which placed me behind security friskers and right in front of a box of KROQ/Catherine Wheel T-shirts. I got my promo shirt and went ahead of the line to offer my ticket to Cerberus. As he’s taking my ticket, Catherine Wheel’s Rob Dickinson is behind me flashing his ID pass at Cerberus, but the big dog will have none of it and sends Dickinson and his assistant back to the line to be frisked. Apparently, Cerberus noticed that people were coming in the wrong door and even if you’re Headlining a gig, you need to be frisked. Gwen Mars was finishing up their set with “She’s Got A Ticket To Ride”, but the crowd did not seem to care.
Wax came on and apparently was down to a Trio for this gig. Their sound man panned everything in favor of the instruments to conceal the babel emanating on vocals…or so the soundman made it seem. The crowd was like a virgin on its First Night: anxious and ready, saving it up for Catherine Wheel.
CW’s new album, Happy Days, hints at the band’s capacity in live performance, but when you hear the band live you get the special treat of feeling the wind created by the sheer force of twin lead guitars strumming enormous power chords layered orchestrally. Brian Futter played 3 Fender Strats throughout the set with power delivered by several JCM 800-type heads on top of twin 412 cabinets. Rob Dickinson handled vocals and played a white Fender Strat all night with power courtesy of Mesa Boogie via twin Boogie 410’s or 412’s. It’s tough to make out everything from the soundboard, but I like to hear exactly what the soundman hears, so excuse any variance in Rigs. Such power delivered CLEANLY is a difficult thing to muster, but Catherine Wheel has perfected it with great success and skill.
The set list included most of the songs RATW selected for Internet Listening Pleasure. Never heard CW live? The new album, Happy Days, will serve as an excellent reference point, since it’s produced to remark CW’s live essence. Nevertheless, you must catch them live in order to feel the wind I’m talking about. CW has harnessed the power of Air. Reprises included Little Muscle, Heal, Shocking, Judy Staring At The Sun, and Hole. For their first encore song, CW played Shocking with great fun and enormous, orchestral power chords. Toward the end of CW’s second encore number, Dave Hawes began to “knight” various members of the crowd and as he was “crowning” loyal subjects, one full of avarice thought to take the Bassist’s Axe, which got the attention of stage security, gradually helping the Bassist recover the facility of his instrument. Neil Sims was an arsenal on drums. CW’s soundman is a most excellent practitioner. Aside from one or two moments where the gain got out of control, the Crowd definitely had a First Night experience. That is what they were coming for. Catch Catherine Wheel when you have the chance.
This article was originally published at Rock Around the World.