McIlheney first saw Cactus World News at Dublin's Project Arts Centre
on a late-spring evening in1985. In his review for Melody Maker,
he dealt astutely with the question of the band's early sound and
the perceived historical problems of simply being a four-piece band
from Dublin at the time:
damn good news of the evening was that Cactus World News sounded
nothing like old U-know who. If ever proof were needed that this
smear tactic is automatically applied to anyone who lives within
a 30-mile radius of Dublin and plays a guitar, regardless of individual
talent and potential, then this was nearly it."
is, of course, the occasional hint of the Bunnymen in there instead,
especially in the vocals, but when you consider that the singer
looks more Costello or Parker than the Mighty Mac, it's hardly surprising
that he over-compensates in his frantic efforts to get out of the
whiskey in the throat style of old."
drummer, meanwhile, looks like Sal Solo but paradoxically plays
like a demon, the guitarist looks like nothing on earth and should
be charged with some wonderful GBH to his instrument before too
these Cactus people conjure up a big beast of noise without ever
losing sight of their melodies and they're possibly the most violent
bunch of well-mannered young men I've come across this year."
the end of a set which included all the tracks from their forthcoming
EP, 'The Bridge', Frankie Boy picked up his guitar, whacked it against
his amp a few times, thrashed it into the ground, held it out for
the crowd to punch and then threw it away. Rock n roll lives in
the most unlikely places."
* * * * *
New musical Express also covered the same gig at the Project. Under
the heading "YIP YIP PEYOTE", Robert Scott saw it this
World News appear amidst an ocean of dry ice in the early hours
of the morning to play their second set in five hours. Having played
only a handful of gigs, they seem to have gone from the garage to
the stadium stage in as few moves as possible. The sound is big
and would work well in large venues. Again there is the unmissable
aura of U2 about them, but in this case the influence has been chewed
up and spat out."
basic acid-test of any group is the tunes, and Cactus World News
have a fair sprinkling of exhilarating, flowing songs like the anthemic
'The Bridge' and 'In A Whirlpool', which they deliver like a mule
Eoin McEvoy sometimes has to shout to be heard and it's in the quieter
passages of the songs with only his acoustic guitar for accompaniment
that the true strength and timbre of his voice is revealed."
it's Frank Kearns' shimmering guitar work that rounds up the individual
strengths of the other members and focuses them into a powerful
single entity. He shares a similar sense of dynamics as the Edge,
but draws on a completely different vocabulary. One reference-point
that springs to mind is the middle eight of Ultravox's 'Hiroshima
Mon Amour'. If you close your eyes you could easily forget it's
a guitar you're listening to; one minute it sounds like an ethereal
piano, the next like a piercing, timewarped violin."
the final song, 'The other Extreme', the band left Frank alone on
the stage swinging his guitar tick-tock fashion in front of the
amp, teasing melodies out of the feedback. The audience were completely
silent, almost hypnotised by the sound."
World News made a strong impression and won over the crowd easily,
but I think they're still a long way from realising their full potential.
When they do it should be quite something."
* * * * *
Bridge' EP Finally came out on Mother in late August of '85. The singles
reviewer for Music Week wrote this on September 7th:
Dublin band has seen a spectacular rise in their fortunes over the
past year, and on the merits of this record, you have to admit it's
justified. 'The Bridge' is a monumental song, both in its scope
and in its emotional pitch, with some of the freshest guitar playing
to come through in quite a while. If they can sustain this quality
without succumbing to the vulgarities of concert hall rock, there's
no saying where they might end up. A terrible beauty is born."
* * * * *
November of 1985, The Band had recorded its debut album and was
on the road in the UK. Pete Marcetto caught them in Sheffield, England,
and submitted his review for the November 16th issue of Sounds Magazine:
first song, 'Jigsaw Street', trades trash for passion, the Cactus
presenting its spines in a solid, gut-vibrating assault. 'Maybe
This Time' builds on a delicate sparsity of sound into a solid,
glaring majesty, a storm of a number that finally recedes beneath
heavy clouds of echoed bass."
closer, 'State of Emergency', is the final surprise, an exercise
in atmosphere that always threatens attack and yet catches me unawares
when it finally does so, a perfect finale but for the singer losing
his glasses as he slams his guitar to the floor, exiting subdued
having been casually handed them by a member of the audience after
a minute's frantic searching."
the light of these three numbers, the majority of the Cacti's material
is little short of perverse. A future of a fluke?"
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