Are Catholic Action your new favourite band yet?
Or haven’t you been paying attention?
When Catholic Action come on stage at Sneaky Pete’s, it’s a different challenge to their triumphant set at The Mash House back in February. That was a headline gig, and the task was to live up to the promise of strong support sets from Whitehall Grove and, especially, Spectacular Primate Disaster. A cold Monday night in Edinburgh supporting Kagoule is a different proposition, and the band get straight down to business with the irresistible licks of Doing Well.
It’s going to be a necessarily truncated set, so the band round out a knockout opening one-two punch by launching straight into Rita Ora. The Motorik-flavoured pop of the NME new music favourite is, if anything, even tighter than it was earlier in the year. Catholic Action have been touring debut album In Memory Of and their comfort with the songs is evident. Tempos are varied to reel the audience in and let them back out again, and in no time heads are bobbing and hips are grooving.
That’s no surprise, because Catholic Action sound like they’ve swallowed a Scottish indie kid’s dream record collection and distilled it into something concentrated and fresh. Yes, there are still hints of Bandwagonesque Teenage Fanclub and Good Feeling Travis, but a familiarity with the songs reveals echoes of the confident, artsy Franz Ferdinand of Tonight and… wait, was that a chiming Big Country chord?!
Fully confident in the songs, the band can have fun, with singer/guitarist Chris McCrory bumping playfully against bassist Jamie Dubber and relating absurd tales of drug dealers in Paisley. But this is Edinburgh, he teases. Will the crowd be as polite as Oxford? As if in answer, the lad on the left bumps into me, lost in his own personal mosh pit.
But tonight’s about guitar-driven pop songs from In Memory Of, and dropping in a song from the follow-up that Catholic Action has just completed recording maintains the tempo. The idea that three-and-a-half minute art-rock epic The Wash is a single’s B-side seems as ridiculous as the fact that Rita Ora didn’t make the cut for In Memory Of. When every song could be the finale, it seems like when the band launch into L.U.V., they and the crowd have constructed their own encore. To a support set, no less.
The tech guy pumps another puff of dry ice onto the stage, and the singer challenges him to provide more and turn the band into a prog rock arena behemoth bestriding the stage at Sneaky Pete’s. You feel like Catholic Action could pull it off if they wanted.
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