Live review: Cage The Elephant

Hot on the tail of their second album, the US rockers drown Camden’s Electric Ballroom in grungy guitar... with a bit of cross-dressing on the side.

Heralding the arrival of their second album with a single UK show, you’d be forgiven for thinking Kentucky five-piece Cage The Elephant didn’t have much enthusiasm for this gig.

But that would be a big mistake. Beefing up their sound from 2008’s fun rock’n’roll to heavy-assed, crunchy grunge-punk, singer Matt Shultz and co brutalised it still further in front of an excited crowd - which set off his crisp, cream blouse and long, royal blue skirt nicely.

With his floppy mop of hair it was only his frequent ragged screams and compulsion to dive into the baying crowd that suggested he hadn’t just swapped bodies with a 1950s WI member.

After opening with In One Ear, the bouncy single from their debut with a pop melody and early-Chili Peppers bass groove, the guys unleashed most of new album Thank You, Happy Birthday, Shultz flinging himself about and thrashing his air guitar between lines.

With just a couple of days to bone up on the new material the crowd were left behind at times, the middle of the gig sagging under heavy-grained guitar and self-indulgent noodling that swamped the pop sensibilities they still possess - as evinced on the rapturously-received, boisterous lead single Shake Me Down.

Like a pet porcupine, this abrasive show was hard to love despite the obvious signs of life lurking within.