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Melody Maker, November, 1997
THE SHOWBOX, SEATTLE
WHAT do you do when you've written a song that takes the wonder of the infinite night sky and fashions it into seven minutes of exquisite soul-searching? Catherine Wheel spent two albums turning their back on the sublime catharsis of "Black Metallic" while Radiohead sneakily rewrote it for the "The Bends" and "OK Computer", but now they're back to what they do best. Star-sailing. Heart-stealing. Changing lives.
Tonight is two hours of gloriously grandiose brilliance and Seattle lap it up like grunge never happened. You can see echoes of Jeff Buckley and The Verve in what's going on here, that exhilarating brand of self-confidence that allows a true star to switch from a light strum on an acoustic guitar to a song that rips through the cosmos. Call it romance if you want, but only if you enjoy being wooed by the devil himself.
Allow me to re-introduce you to singer Rob, a wired visionary with the looks of Beelzebub and the voice of a fallen angel. He's the reason why t'Wheel will seduce anyone fired by Richard Ashcroft's vision, the reason why new songs like "Future Boy" head straight for the part of your soul where hope and imagination reign supreme. He's also a saucy beast, as the many wide-eyed fans confirm.
Yes, yes, a Catherine Wheel comeback does seem like a strange concept, but when has music ever been logical? Indeed, a triumphant show in the home of sludge proves that bringing diamonds to Newcastle is just what these boys thrive on. Magical, truly magical.