Cattle & Cane At The Exeter Phoenix

by Weihan Tang

While not being a particularly dedicated fan of folk, I was pleasantly surprised last Monday night by Cattle & Cane’s wonderfully diverse, polished, and rather intimate set. Arriving in the less than packed venue, I was initially afraid we’d stumbled into the wrong room, yet the numbered crowd was definitely not an indication of the quality of that night’s performances.

What was surprising was the sheer variety in Cattle & Cane’s musical repertoire. Transitions between the almost hard rock and blues inspired The Poachers, with throbbing bass lines, to the crooning, gentle harmonies in Then You Came Along offered unique pace changes to a deliciously diverse medley of songs. Going so far as choosing to perform We Were Children acoustically, the crowd’s reserved silence was tantamount to the group’s talent. The rising chorus of We Were Children was akin to taking a sip of double shot Cappuccino. Smooth and innocent, yet with bittersweet undertones, as was the song’s inspiration.

Lead singers Joe and Helen Hammill’s vocal abilities were never doubted. Theirs was the compelling force behind the group, delivering an impressive vocal range. Especially in Come Home, which is arguably their most well known song, layering their voices above running drum beats and repeating riffs like drinking in an early morning horizon. So too, was Joe’s instrumental talent showcased at one point, when he drove out a quick and clean acoustic guitar solo. The rest of the band’s accompaniment was no different. A small crowd provided a more intimate atmosphere and a good level of audience interaction, though Cattle & Cane definitely deserved a larger gathering. The running joke was that the entire band, save for the drummer, were all siblings.

Credit should also be given to local supporting act, Tors, who also put on a stellar feel good and danceable opening. Both groups provided an effortlessly enjoyable experience. Be sure to head on down the next time Cattle & Cane are in town.