There’s not a wealth of live Catherine Wheel material out there – barely any, really – so stumbling across this complete, almost two hours-long show from New York in the Summer of 2000 feels like a pretty sweet, unexpected gift. Okay, first the downside – it’s from the Wishville tour, the band’s swan song and favourite record of precisely no one, when they went from being critically ignored to being critically panned. Second, it’s not as professionally-shot as one would like, but as tripod-mounted, pan-and-zoom handicam footage from the balcony goes, it’s pretty damn good. And it seems like it’s got a pretty great soundboard audio sync, so let’s not split hairs. Plus mega bonus points for the Belly callback during “Black Metallic”.
The set list is a pretty fair balance of classic material and new – there’s five Wishville songs – and if some of these renditions sound familiar, it might be because roughly half the set would appear as a bonus disc on a deluxe edition of Wishville. Which also means you’re enough of a completist to have bought a second copy of the album months after it initially came out, so good on you.
I’m actually not a Wishville hater, per se, but I never reach for it (nor Happy Days), with Adam & Eve, Cats & Dogs, Chrome, or Ferment doing well to scratch my CW itches. But the fact that it – and Adam & Eve, whoo! – have finally made their way onto streaming services means that I’ll be able to give it a reassessment without, well, making any kind of effort.
Despite the pleas of a small but very vocal fanbase, Catherine Wheel remain resolutely disbanded, seemingly delighting in provoking said fanbase with random, occasional Facebook posts. And speaking of their Facebook, it’s interesting that 20+ years later, they maintain their identity with the definite article. I mean, I don’t believe grammatical choices can be cursed, necessarily, but still.