Having blogged about the live music scene I’ve grown up with in West Wales last week, I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the best that Cardiff has to offer over the last couple of days.
Whereas the live music scene back West developed in spite of the lack of famous bands that toured in the area, the same can’t be said for the East. When I was growing up I had visions of Newport being a utopia of live music, as every band that visited Wales headed to TJ’s. Fast forward a few years and TJ’s has closed and a lot of those gigs have moved to Cardiff, although live music still has a safe haven in Newport in the form of Le Pub.
The Samoans album was launched on Friday night, and I got there just in time to catch the last few songs of Future Ages‘ set, who from what I hear have a lovely mix of off kilter rhythms and jagged guitars, which they somehow keep tight as hell and drape some big vocals over. This was their first gig in Cardiff, and if you get the chance they look well worth catching the next time they cross the Severn Bridge.
The last time I saw Olympians play they were very synth orientated, but here they were much more guitar focussed. Their lo-fi sound sounds a little like Pavement souped up with some electronic shenanigans thrown into the mix. They were a great band to watch and obviously enjoyed playing live. The joy was infectious, and they got the crowd on side right from the start of their set.
On Elevated Reflections, Samoans’ echoed early Biffy Clyro (i.e. when Biffy were good). On Friday we heard songs from their latest effort Rescue, which continues with a sense of adventure, but takes them a step or two further forward. There are now elements of post-rock in some of their songs, like the intro to Lightning Beneath the Sea. They still have a tremendous sense of light and shade, and a big live sound.
Aled Rheon opened the night and played more English language songs than when I’d last seen him at Swn festival, with the honourable exception of Tawel fel y Bedd. I love his almost ethereal sound. The fact that he sings in my mother tongue endears me to him that little bit more too, and his English songs are equally lovely. Can’t wait to hear his new EP when that comes out.
Wrongs have a gothic tinge to their sound. My initial thought was that they echoed Nick Cave a touch, and in a quick chat with Aled Rheon he compared them to Cave’s Grinderman project. There was also an epicness in there that recalled the Cult a bit. They’re an interesting proposition live as a two piece with a big guitar sound and synthetic beats.
Like the last time I saw Rhodri Brooks, he started off playing a couple of solo numbers before the rest of the band joined him. His sound is a great mix of lo-fi and country, with the lap steel guitar accentuating that last element. Every song drew a strong reaction from the crowd, and deservedly so. Last night was the first time that he’d headlined a show apparently, and I urge you to head to his next one, as I’ve got no doubt that it’ll be well worth it.
So in conclusion…… I’m a lucky so and so. I love Cardiff.