The band campaign for a living wage alongside Toploader and Idlewild...

CATATONIA previewed songs from their forthcoming new album in MANCHESTER last night (April 28), at their first full-scale show for 18 months.

The band headlined the ‘Campaign For a Living Wage’ awareness show at the Evening News Arena, put on by the public service trade union Unison. The campaign aims to bring about a change in UK minimum wage legislation, setting the rate at £5 per hour, regardless of age.

The band played five new songs, which had been debuted at a warm-up show at Northampton Roadmenders earlier in the week. Titles included forthcoming single ‘Stone By Stone’, a mid-paced pop song that ends in a refrain of The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’.

“That’s the first time we’ve managed to play that one,” said singer Cerys Matthews, referring to the aborted attempt in Northampton.

Other tracks included ‘Misogyny’ and the heavier ‘Immediate Circle’. ‘Misogyny’ is a dramatic ballad in the vein of ‘Strange Glue’, while another new track ‘Fuel’ marks a political direction in the band’s lyrics, declaring: “Don’t ask the government you voted in on trust / where is our fuel?” – presumably referring to last year’s petrol crisis in the UK.

The new material is trademark Catatonia , but mostly heavier than the band’s last album ‘Equally Cursed and Blessed’. Catatonia played for an hour, and left out any material from the last album, concentrating mainly on breakthrough second record ‘International Velvet’.

Before classic single ‘Mulder And Scully’, Cerys quipped: “Geri Halliwell here last night was she? Could you see her? This is for all real women.” Halliwell had made her own live comeback at the same venue the previous night at the Key 103 Feel The Noise charity show.

Catatonia‘s as-yet-untitled fourth album is due for release in mid-summer through Blanco Y Negro, preceded by the single ‘Stone By Stone’.

The rest of the line-up featured Toploader, Idlewild, Wheatus, making their debut UK live appearance, and a two-song set from the Dum Dums. Beset by transport and technical difficulties, they did not have time to set up or soundcheck properly, and as a result were forced to turn in a semi-unplugged performance, using Wheatus‘ bongo-drums.