Carl Barât.

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It’s not the typical haunt of a libertine but Carl Barât and his band-mates still managed to bring the house down in H&M’s Buchanan Street branch in Glasgow last night. As part of a partnership between NME and the fashion line, a series of mini gigs are taking place in H&M shops across the UK with competition winners making up the audience.

The shop was transformed into a venue fit for purpose, resembling King Tut’s on a sold out night. It’s hard to imagine that only a few hours’ earlier people were coming through the door to update their wardrobe. Despite the sales advisors best efforts at encouraging the audience to shop, it was clear that the rowdy crowd were there for only one thing.

Kicking off the set with Dirty Pretty Things Hit ‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’, Barât drew attention to his previous understated band.  Joined by former band mate Gary Powell (of the Libertines and DPT) the band threw themselves into Libertines classic ‘Horror Show’, which had the crowd eating from the palm of their hands. Seizing the opportunity, Barât performed a few tracks from his forthcoming album (due to be released later this year) which had the audience dancing along as if they already knew them.  After a few up-beat and energetic tunes, some of which taken from his self-titled solo album, Barât slowed things down with an acoustic version of ‘What Katie Did’ followed by a tender rendition of ‘France’. However it wasn’t long before he was re-joined with his equally enthusiastic band to finish off the set with guitarist Anthony Rossomando throwing “free” goods from the shops’ shelves into the audience (much to the sales assistant’s dismay). Rounding things off with anthems ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ and ‘I Get Along’, Barât and the boys exceeded the expectations (and more) of their sweaty crowd. If only all shopping trips were like this! (Jocelyn Healey)

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CATS

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Almost ten years since the cat flap was closed, CATS has returned commencing its tour at the Edinburgh Playhouse. With the characters and lyrics adapted from numerous stories and poems by T.S. Elliot, CATS is still one of Andrew Lloyd Webbers most successful musicals and another feather in director Trevor Nunn’s cap.

When the Jellicle moon is shining bright all of the Jellicle cats gather in a bid to be chosen by head cat, Old Deuteronomy, to enter the heavy side layer and be granted an extra life. A series of cats are introduced and presented to the others through song and dance, such as the heart-throb bad-boy Rum Tum Tugger, Gus the theatre cat and thieving twins Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer. But who will be the cat that gets the cream?

John Napier’s timeless set still sits well with the audience a decade on. From old cushions and smelly boots that transforms the cats into their arch nemeses – the dogs, to a tire that becomes a throne for Deuteronomy, the junk yard set is transformed into a conventional palace. The actors have to be commended for their commitment to their frisky feline alter egos. Through movement and typical quirks, the characters convincingly come to life. Even throughout the interval the occasional cat strolls on, has a scratch or a sniff before finding a secret hiding place in a broken pipe or behind a net.

It’s hard not to compare Joanna Ampil’s performance as Grizabella the Glamour cat to her predecessor Elaine Paige, however, Ampil’s rendition of memories is just as moving and emotive as the original.

CATS is a musical that will never date due to its subject matter, a world without cats? Don’t be daft!

(Jocelyn Healey)