Barry 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:

"The 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."

"There 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."

"The 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 long."

"Together, 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."

"At 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."

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Interestingly, New musical Express also covered the same gig at the Project. Under the heading "YIP YIP PEYOTE", Robert Scott saw it this way:

"Cactus 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."

"The 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 kick."

"Singer 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."

"But 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."

"On 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."

"Cactus 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."

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'The Bridge' EP Finally came out on Mother in late August of '85. The singles reviewer for Music Week wrote this on September 7th:

"This 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."

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By 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:

The 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."

"Set 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."

"In the light of these three numbers, the majority of the Cacti's material is little short of perverse. A future of a fluke?"