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Catatonia,
Dublin Castle,
May 3rd 1999

"I've been taking lessons, Andrea," says Cerys Matthews in the introduction to 'She's A Millionaire', picking up a standard primary school descant recorder and looking up to where the Corrs' lead singer is wilting anaemically behind a pillar. The congregation of guestlist royalty shuffle uneasily in the dark on the Dublin Castle balcony. If they're not thinking that Catatonia are too fabulous tonight to be taught anything by anyone, then they should be.

It's hardly surprising that a woman who once threw her own TV out of her own front window would have enough stage presence to fill Grand-Canyon-sized venues, let alone conquer Dublin Castle's murky, eggshell sound system. From the second Catatonia kick into anti-monarchy guitar rant 'Storm the Palace', they emit charisma and confidence. And it's not the same kind of temporary, talent-free cocaine confidence that Cerys disparages on 'Game On' and 'Do You Believe in Me?', both of which are played emphatically tonight.

'International Velvet' is a similarly pointed and proud, but then Catatonia haven't really changed much since their days on the dole; they're still as histrionic as they are catatonic. The fact that Noel Gallagher once dismissed 'You've Got a Lot to Answer For', the best pregnancy scare song in the world...ever, as music to fall asleep to, says more about his one-dimensional hearing than Catatonia's rabble-rousing power.

So never mind that the 1999 set list has no room for 'Bleed' or 'Way Beyond Blue' or 'Sweet Catatonia', or that audience interaction bizarrely sparks a crowd rendition of 'Molly Malone'. When once-cute supporting act The Cardigans have traded kitsch pop for leather and lessons in taking yourself too seriously, and also-rans Gay Dad lived up to all expectations by being shit, then Catatonia's headlining reign seems assured.

As the silver-and-pink dressed Cerys lubricates her vocal chords with alcohol between songs, the equally immersed and blessed crowd waits in anticipation. Seconds later, Catatonia will continue making not just hay, but all the right noises too.

by Laura Slattery