Gig review: Cat's Eyes at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

As far as musical duos go, Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira are quite the eclectic combination: he's the brooding, rip-roaring frontman of The Horrors, and she's a Canadian soprano and multi-instrumentalist, writes Faith Gledhill.

Thursday, 3rd November 2016, 3:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:50 pm
Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira of Cat's Eyes at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. Picture: Opera North

However, vocally, the two complement one another perfectly and what comes from their somewhat unconventional pairing is a theatrical performance with all of the drama and intensity of a Broadway musical.

Just a hint of a smile plays upon their lips as they take to the atmospheric stage of the Howard Assembly Room to the theme of Twin Peaks. They swiftly launch into the other-worldly Chameleon Queen, Zeffira’s operatic and celestial vocals filling the room in no time at all. Throughout, the electricity between them is all but sizzling, and Badwan’s dry sense of humour draws laughter from his audience on a number of occasions.

The complexity and variety within their sound means that it’s all but impossible to assign them to any one genre, but perhaps this is the intention. Face in the Crowd and Standoff show off the grittiness and post-punk roots in Faris’ vocals, and then at the other end of the spectrum are the romantic, dizzying heights and haunting delicacy of The Missing Hour or The Lull. Both appear confident and relaxed to the point of nonchalance, Rachel introducing Be Careful Where You Park Your Car as her “revenge” on an old flame.

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Cat's Eyes at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. Picture: Opera North

I Knew It Was Over won the band acclaim when performed within the walls of the Vatican back in 2011, and Faris declares that it’s to be the final song of the night. It’s an ethereal number, and a suitable finale, but within moments the band are back for one last hurrah. They end on a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, an unorthodox choice and a fitting culmination to an idiosyncratic performance.

Cat's Eyes at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. Picture: Opera North