THE MUSIC MAGAZINE FOR WALES
a decade of Welsh rock
TOM JONES Welsh icon
Alabama 3 Feeder Funeral For A Friend Goldie Lookinâ€™ Chain Friends Electric People In Planes Cerys Matthews The Futureheads The Shortwave Set The Alarm Ida Maria
Ever Wanted to Get Up Close to Real Rock Stars? Learn The Art of Performance Photography Creative young people between the ages of 16 to 19 are invited to apply to join this FREE six-month course running between April and September 2009. If you are interested in photography then you will want to be part of this dynamic project! The six chosen participants will be tutored by Darren Warner in the skills of live performance photography by being taken to local gigs. The enthusiastic students will have to produce a series of unique photographs for an exhibition of work, which will also be published in the pages of PLUGGED IN magazine. To apply, you need to send five photographs of gigs you have attended, with a covering letter, to: Tanya Walker-Brown, SONIG Youth Co-ordinater, RCT CBC, Llwyn Castan, Library Road, Pontypridd CF37 2YA (NOTE: sorry, you must be a resident of the borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff to be eligible)
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Contents firstname.lastname@example.org www.pluggedinmagazine.co.uk
ELCOME to the latest issue of PLUGGED IN magazine — a bumper 48-page issue filled with around 100 live performance reviews. Our ethos at PLUGGED IN is simple — to promote new Welsh music and writers by reaching as many people as possible, which is why all magazines produced in 2009 will be available FREE throughout our outlets in Wales (though there will be a small p&p charge for email orders). Also we are continuing to link up with other youth projects throughout Wales and are currently working in partnership with our friends in Gwallgofiaid, based in Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales, and Glamorgan Gates in Merthyr Tydfil. We have also recently donated a load of magazines to a Valleys-based reading scheme to help young people. So if you have a community-based group and would like us to help in some way please get in touch, and we’ll see if we can work with you too! More news for 2009 is that we’ve now gone green — PLUGGED IN is printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks. Enjoy!
Gail & Darren MANAGING EDITOR & PUBLISHER Gail Griffiths CREATIVE DIRECTOR & CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
CONTRIBUTORS Adam Perkins, Becca, Gary Bolsom, Jessica Ramthun, Kayleigh Edwards, Kikki Stavros, Liam Padfiled, Lauren Wannenburg, Lisa Derrick, Maria Murphy, Marv, Nadine Ballantyne, Richard Samuel, Rob Jones, Ryan Atkinson, Stephanie McNicholas, Victoria Turner & Stephen Lewis PLUGGED IN magazine is a not-for-profit social enterprise, run by unpaid volunteers. Printed in Wales on recycled paper using vegetable inks.
4 6 8
bands to watch out for!
living Welsh legend
Alabama 3 going full out
playing to a home crowd
12 Funeral For A Friend on tour in Wales
16 Goldie Lookin’ Chain you knows it
18 Friends Electric on their unique sound
22 Stereophonics 10 years at the top
24 Pull-Out Poster double-page pin-up
26 Live Reviews 20 more pages
32 The Shortwave Set influenced by the Sixties
34 Return Of Punk explosive performance
46 CD Reviews
great music recommended
We would like to thank Fframwaith for funding this issue of PLUGGED IN magazine
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DAY IN DECAY
elcome to our New Section! PLUGGED IN Rising Talent is devoted to some brilliant young Welsh artists we believe have the potential both musically and through song writing ability to go further. Passionate, exciting and, basically, bloody good! You need to hear them or see them live, so visit their myspace sites (you can get to them through ours at www. myspace.com/pluggedinmagazine — see our top friends).
We reviewed this heavy metal outfit in Newport’s Riverside Tavern (page 37) and felt they had something to shout about. So where do they come from and how did they get together as a band? “We’re from all over to be fair, ranging from South East Wales to Bristol.” All friends to begin with, AJ says this band should have been formed years ago rather than just the year they’ve been going. “We all vary in age and kind of met through different members of the band. Two of the lads are step brothers so that helped a lot.” They describe their music as “heavy f**king metal” and don’t want to be pigeonholed into the sub-genre of metal. “We just want to stand out. I don’t think we need to follow a guideline on how to achieve it.” So any releases yet? “We have two EPs, but due to our financial position haven’t released them yet — but once we’ve sorted that out we should be releasing at least one and hopefully writing more songs for another. It’s not about money to us, it’s just about having a good time. But I think we would all love to make a living from making music. Fingers crossed, who knows!”
Regulars on the pages of PLUGGED IN are Go-X, whose front man Josh introduced himself to us at a gig in TJ’s in Newport. “We’re exciting,” he said and after seeing them live we agreed. Now we want to know more about the band whose members are from Ebbw Vale, Tredegar and Crickhowell. “Av and I (Josh) have been best mates for a decade, we didn’t fit in anywhere at school so forming a band was our way of passing the time. Murph and Tee joined December 2008.” The band had established itself around South Wales with a strong live reputation playing “a merge of super-melody orientated grunge funk backed with a metally pophardcore rhythm section. This way we start with something really nice, something that could work as an acoustic song or a pop song, and we twist it into something much more powerful and up-tempo. Something that you can listen to again and again.” So is there anything exciting on the horizon for the boys? “We’re going to Longwave Studios in April for a week to record a four-track EP. This is very exciting for us because we’ve recorded a fair few times before but this is our real big push. We’ve taken six months out to write these songs and make them mega. In June we’re doing a UK tour with DissolvedIn who get seriously big crowds and we can’t wait to get stuck in there with them!” And what about the future? “Our goal over the next year is to get noticed by some heavyweight management who will be able to do more for us than we are able to do for ourselves. We’ve got a good name on the Welsh circuit, everyone is waiting to see if we can back it up with some ground-breaking, ball-crunching excellent recordings and we can’t wait to show them what we’ve been cooking up during the past year.” Liam Padfield covered Go-X’s Barfly gig for this issue, both writing and taking the photographs — see page 37.
Opening for Funeral For A Friend in Swansea could be quite a daunting task, but not for these guys. From Pontypridd and Barry they formed by merging two old bands together — so if you think lead singer Leon looks familiar, look back at the Tomorrows History review we featured in Issue 1. The boys told us, “Our music appeals to all sorts of audiences as we have an indie/ ambient sound.” Finding influences from U2, Kings of Leon, Angels & Airwaves and Coldplay, they plan to release an EP sometime around the summer. “We also want to gig as much as possible and see where the future takes us.” Well it seems people are already taking notice — especially as Ryan Richards from FFAF has picked them up for his management company. (See our live reviews, pages 18 & 40.)
In Issue 4 we reviewed a CD Bar Brawls & Downfalls by Haddonfield, as having previously seen them at a recent Fight Night here in Pontypridd we felt we needed to spread the word on them. The band from Blaenau Gwent, got together about four years ago after their previous bands hit the rocks. “We got on super well and knew each other prior to Haddonfield, finding common ground with our love of punk rock, horror movies and goofing around.” They say they play melodic punk rock, “I guess, we get compared to a lot of bands. This being due to the fact that we listen to a lot of different stuff, anything from Neds Atomic Dustbin, Samiam, Poison...” Still the guys have been busy releasing a couple of demos and an EP, for which they’ve toured and received some mentions in the international press. Their forthcoming releases will be a 7in vinyl for their song Panic, followed by a brand new record in April. As far as the future goes, “Well, we’re looking forward to recording our new material and touring later on in the year. Whatever else comes along is a bonus!”
One of the more interesting CDs we’ve reviewed in this issue (see page 46) is by the Welsh-language band Wyrligigs, hailing from Bethesda “a small town between the hills and the quarries of North Wales. We started making noises around 2003/4 with different music workshops up here. We all when to school together and everything sort of happened from there.” The three members are very strongly influenced by 70s music and others like The Jam, The Strokes, The Ramones, Kentucky Afc, Anhrefn — alongside “booze, rants about youth culture and making loud noises with three chords!” Already having released a single, Rocars Cymraeg A Ciwdod, back in 2005 they’ve recently released a new single/ep Yn Y Ddinas (see page 46). So what’s the future outlook for the band? “Hopefully more gigs, maybe even a few the other side of the border — and to make more music as the band is always developing.”
SET IN MOTION
When we asked Victoria Turner to cover a Set In Motion gig at TJ’s, she came back telling us what an excellent gig it was. So we thought we’d better talk to these guys from Newport who seemed to have her in such raptures. “I hate saying this, but you could probably describe our music as alternative pop-punk with an essence of emo, which is cool. Everyone in the band has a very eclectic taste in music, but it’s most probably bands like Taking Back Sunday, Saosin and Glassjaw that influence our sound the most.” Any releases to date or forthcoming? “We’re going to Longwave Studios to record our debut album with Romesh Dodangoda in March and plan to release it later in the summer. We’re pretty confident about this record as we feel we’re in highly capable hands.” And then? “Once we finish recording the album and release it, our main plan is to tour as many towns and cities as possible. If anything cool pops up along the way, then happy days!” (Our Set In Motion gig review is on page 40.)
DEAD AGAINST THE REST
One of the showiest rock bands in the Valley, DATR are a force to be reckoned with. From Porth and Merthyr the band have been together since 2003 though back in the summer of 2007 they parted with the then front man as there was a clash of opinion. “We needed somebody who could captivate the crowd within seconds, and hold them in the palm of his hand until the end of the set”. So up stepped Mr Paul Marshall, formerly of The Alternative Ending and the rest, as they say, is history. Their influences stem from Guns ’N’ Roses to David Bowie with each member bringing something different to the band. “We released a demo/EP back last March called Echoes Of The Dead and it went down really well. We’re currently locked up in the studio recording our new release, which is yet to be named, but is gonna blow you away — should be out March/April. This is going to be a very big year for us, as we have a load of dates in February around the UK, then head to Europe in April. We’ve been lined up for a number of festivals this summer as well as a number of UK and Ireland tours. We have endorsement deals sorted with a number of different companies, got us a new manager, a new booking agent and four new tyres on our trusty little van ready for the road.” Who said rock ’n’ roll is dead!
KID KEEP DANCING
This five-piece band from Port Talbot started off by recording a session at Screamadelica Studio in Cardiff before they even set foot on stage together. “We did it so everyone in the local area would know exactly what we were about and thought it’d help get us gigs.” Even though this worked, a full time keyboard/ synth player was needed to complete the sound. Once recruited a headlining show was organised, which immediately sold out. “The atmosphere in the audience was electric. Since then we’ve played shows for Redbull and are now frequently played on Bethan Elfyn, Huw Stephens and Adam Walton’s Radio One shows.” They say that they don’t have any particular influences, just listen to a wide variety of genres which add the various flavours that create their music, “Though we have been compared to Kids In Glass Houses, which we are all very flattered about.” They create catchy and infectious music that they “guarantee you won’t get out of your head.” Their first self-titled EP sold out, but is now available as a free download. So any new stuff in the pipeline? “We’re releasing our second EP shortly, however there will only be a limited CD print and a digital download available. Then it’s into Longwave Studio to work on our third EP with Romesh. This year we’re hoping to tour in Ireland and Italy, and as many towns and cities in the UK as possible to get our music out to everyone throughout the country.” Go for it guys! (Read our live review on page 18.)
While supporting Funeral For A Friend in Aberystwyth, SaidMike took the audience by storm with their slice of indie rock — but then we know they’ve been doing that for quite a while. We caught up with them after that gig to find out how it all started and what they have planned for 2009. Having known each other from school the lads started a band as a bit of a laugh. “We used to play our school Eisteddfod’s and put on school concerts after lessons, originally stemming from a Wheatus tribute band called Shredded Wheatus. We started out playing covers but soon wrote our own songs, recording a few demos on a karaoke machine. Ultimately we were just a bunch of friends who started a band to get girls — we’ve been going a while now, but there are still no girls!” How did the guys come up with their sound? “We’re not trying to sound like anything in particular. We’re an unusual mix of indie and heavy rock, we like to mix melodic groovy sections with heavy riffs and choruses. Crowds can dance to us and mosh to us. In terms of influences, we all listen to different stuff and have done so throughout this band’s existence. I think the bands we grew up listening to have influenced our sound to a large extent. Bands like Biffy Clyro, Jimmy Eat World, Incubus, Foo Fighters and At The Drive-In were all on our mini disk players when we were in school. We were also big fans of local bands like Midasuno and got really excited when we were lucky enough to support them.” First the band released a three-track EP called Heads Down, Check It Out! in 2006, then self-released an EP in 2007 called Stop The Clocks, which received airplay on Xfm South Wales. “We also released a downloadable Christmas single last December called It’ll Be Fine At Christmas Time through Xtra Mile Recordings. The proceeds from that release will be donated to Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice and are currently writing new material for a mini-album later this year.” As for the future they intend taking every opportunity they can get to tour. “We’re getting old now, so we’re hoping this year will be our year.” PLUGGED IN hopes so too — these guys deserve it. PLUGGED IN
t was the 28th May 2005 and in front of over 25,000 people Tom Jones walked on to the stage and started to sing. A strong, powerful vocal performance like... well... Tom Jones of course! His unique voice carried up the surrounding hills and into the Valleys where thousands more fans who couldn’t get tickets had gathered to hear the man sing. The Voice had returned to a welcome in the hillsides, to Pontypridd, the place of his birth 65 years previous — and his first performance in his home town since 1964. At the time I was sitting in my garden listening to the outpouring of hits just a stone’s throw from Ynysangharad Park where the concert was being held, while my young daughters were in bed and Darren had gone down the hill to photograph the event. The acoustics of the valley meant I could hear our Tom as clearly as if I had been in the Park in person — and I could also picture him, smiling that familiar smile as he walked the stage and posed for his adoring fans. Because, you see, I am a Ponty girl born and bred, and Sir Tom Jones, The Voice, is a Welsh icon, a living legend and a legend I had grown up with throughout my childhood. Tom Jones is around the same age as my dad, had of course gone to the same school as my dad, so I had heard a few stories of old Tommy Woodward before he was famous. Like the time when... but that would be telling! Tom is so famous that he’s been immortalised in a mural of musical icons from Pontypridd (decorating a wall in town), who include Evan James and James James the father and son team who wrote the Welsh national anthem, no less. But Tom is still in the limelight, is known the world over by people of all ages, and even though he spends most of his time in America he has never disowned his Welsh roots or lost his Welsh accent — giving his voice that rich timbre which, of course, is so much part of him and what he is. It all started on the 7th June 1940 when Thomas Jones Woodward was born in Wood Road, Pontypridd, a mere half mile from the offices of PLUGGED IN magazine. A regular singer at family functions he was renowned for his powerful voice, drowning out other members of his school choir at the formerly named Wood Road School (more recently Treforest Primary before being closed). Never one for school, the tearaway Tom started dating Melinda Trenchard (known as Linda) before becoming bed-ridden for almost a year with tuberculosis — an important time for the young Tom as it was then he developed his taste for modern music. At 16 he left school and married Linda a year later, a month before the birth of their son Mark. In 1963 he fronted Tommy Scott & The Senators, a local beat group that became legendary throughout the area, though a recording deal still eluded them. After a failed attempt to start a career by making a demo tape with the help of local song writers Raymond Godfrey and John Glastonbury, Tom was spotted by Gordon Mills at the Top Hat, a club in Cwmtillery. A London-based manager, originally from Tonypandy in South Wales, Mills was later quoted as saying, “The first few bars were all I needed to hear; they convinced me that here was a voice that could make him the greatest singer in the world.” Renaming his new find Tom Jones, Mills took him to London where he recorded a single for Decca — It’s Not Unusual was an instant smash hit. During 1965, Tom received a Grammy for Best New Artist and recorded a number of major movie themes, including
Words by Gail Griffiths
24 Hours (album) Parlophone/S-Curve What with Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Bryn Christopher releasing stormingly popular music over the last few years with their take on Sixties-style songs and production, it’s like Sir Tom has said, “Hold on a minute, I can do that!” Which of course he does — brilliantly! Using the production skills of Los Angeles based Future Cut, the drum ’n’ bass outfit who have previously worked with Lily Allen and Kate Nash, to make him sound like himself from the 60s he has basically tapped into the current trend for retro production and actually sounds, well, like Tom. So this album becomes a winner, forgetting his age, and is the best album he has done since the collaborations on Reload while quite easily the sexiest, most vibrantly emotive set of songs he has ever recorded. With writing credits on most of the songs he has finally opened his immense soul to us and let the feelings inside rush out, as if for all these years he has been
bottling everything up — just listen to Roads, written for his wife Linda of 52 years which is sung as a apologetic tribute to her, and the beautiful title track 24 Hours with its military-style drumming emphasising the power of his singular emotive voice. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a sit down and let’s be reflective album. This is Tom Jones after all and the up-lifting vibe he put out back in the 60s is as strong now as it was then, heard especially on the first two singles If He Should Ever Leave You and Give A Little Love and the album opener I’m Alive, a cover version of the Tommy James and the Shondells track. 24 Hours shows why Sir Tom Jones is such a Welsh singing legend and you can understand the status he holds. When most people of his age and riches wouldn’t bother even getting out of bed, he comes back to prove he is still a credible force today. Sir Tom has been quoted as saying, “The fire is still in me, I want to be a contender.” Never a man to mince his words 24 Hours proves that his fire does burn still brightly. DW
What’s New Pussycat and the James Bond theme Thunderball. The singles What’s New Pussycat and Green Green Grass Of Home went Gold in 1966, followed by I’ll Never Fall In Love Again in 1967. Mills had also managed to secure his star a 78-episode TV show, This Is Tom Jones, which landed Tom in The Guinness Book Of World Records for the largest contract ever signed by an individual in the UK. This was an amazing feat at this time, and one which probably helped secure his position on the international stage while many other icons of the Sixties faded into obscurity. During the Seventies, Tom became a mainstay of the Las Vegas circuit — which continues to this day — mixing with the likes of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. It elevated him to superstar status and brought many highly lucrative deals and stage shows that played on his sexual appeal. Since he first took to the stage Tom has always radiated a raw sexuality, which over the years earned him a following of devoted female fans who frequently threw their underwear at him. But the record releases started to dry up and the 1977 Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow was the last Tom Jones single to make the charts for over 10 years. After Gordon Mills’s death from cancer in 1986 Tom’s son Mark became his manager and helped reinvent his father’s sound, bringing him back into the public eye with the song The Boy From Nowhere from the stage play Matador. Next came a reworking of Prince’s sexy single Kiss (with The Art Of Noise), the flirtatious You Can Keep Your Hat On which cropped up in the smash hit movie The Full Monty, topped by the just fantastic, multi-million selling album Reload on which Tom cleverly duetted with some of the brightest stars in pop music of the Nineties — including Welsh superstars Kelly Jones, James Dean Bradfield and the amazing Cerys Matthews. And so Tom has never really gone away. He became a Sir in 2005 and has now released the exceptional album 24 Hours — the next upward step in his career ladder. Regarded as his most personal and best album for years, the man himself said, “We’ve been thinking about this for a while, doing a retro album but with a new sound, and Amy Winehouse cracked it. When her album came out, my son called me up and said: ‘You know what we’ve been talking about? Listen to this.’ Just what we’d been waiting for.” Tom wanted his voice to be as natural as possible, “The arrangements and the production needed to be modern, but the vocal needs to sound like me.” It’s the first time Tom has had a major hand in the song writing, with this album being a reflection of his life. “It’s all very well just singing songs, but for this record I really wanted to get properly personal. I’ve been getting reflective recently, looking over my journey through life, and I wanted to get that down on song. This time I wanted to make something that was all about me, my stories, my life. In other words, you listen to this album and you get the real me.” As if to highlight this last point Tom has now stopped dyeing his hair, letting the natural grey come through and looking much better than he has for years. You see, he still can’t get away from that sex appeal image! He’s also cannily jumped aboard the charity wagon, performing a version of Islands In The Stream for Comic Relief alongside Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon (Nes and Bryn of hit TV series Gaven & Stacey). It’s even rumoured that Tom is to play Glastonbury this year — not bad for a bloke of 68!
Words by Adam Perkins Photographed by Darren Warner @ Sub 29, Cardiff
alking into one of Cardiff’s newest venues, Sub 29, was a surreal experience. As I climbed the stairs I was sure I was on my way to see a live band. But then I heard this Techno blasting out of the speakers. Shortly after, these strange folk appeared. There were nine of them. They wore sunglasses and cowboy hats. This wasn’t just any live band. This was Alabama 3! Notorious for their live shows, A3 have been kicking up a fuss for some time now, and marked the release of their 2008 Hits & Exit Wounds ‘best of’ album with this MDMA (Monday Doesn’t Mean Anything) tour, the only way they can. And that is to party… “You can tell people coming along that any perverts are going to be converted and any convicts are going to be perverted. It’s a Holy Roller of a show!” pipes Larry Love. Speaking to one of the creators of all this chaos, Valleys boy Rob Spragg, aka front man Larry Love, the licence the nine-piece have to make such unpredicted and unviolated pandemonium comes from the soul and passion of being allowed to perform. “We are very privileged. And I don’t understand bands that moan about going on tour! I mean what a joy to do it. You go to sleep at 10am, awake at 5pm, have some food, go on stage, all the girls love you, and then you stay partying all night. And we really enjoy that. But aside from all the rock and roll clichés we never miss gigs, we are quite a disciplined band despite all the chaos. And what keeps us going is that it’s a joy to do this as a living. I want to carry on doing that because it never tires!” Before the rapturous applause died down, the set kicked in with the funky and beatfilled tour title track MDMA. Larry sounding as sexy as ever, and complemented up front by the sassy Devlin Love and the crazy D Wayne Love (aka fellow founding member Jake Black). Accompanied by fantastic green lasers A3 grooved their way through their greatest hits to date, such as Cocaine (Killed My Community), Hello…I’m Johnny Cash and U Don’t Dans To Tekno Anymore. The tour in itself summed up the severity of A3’s hard work and commitment since signing to One Little Indian Records in 1997. As Larry reminisced, “We were very serious about being stupid on one level, because we have a certain smoke screen, but we are very serious and we have a respectful and obliging love of blues and country and gospel music. It was our intention on taking it on in a very serious level!” Alabama 3 are not your regular band. Experimental in their attitude to fusing country and blues and gospel music with techno, and not forgetting those Southern accents, they certainly command some respect in the musical community for their innovative approach. “Our stuff is quite timeless I think because it’s got quite a lonely agenda to follow… We are like Marmalade — sticky and dangerous!”
Talking to Rob Spragg was a fantastic experience. He’s the same character offstage as he is on it. “I’m a 43-year-old man walking around with the name Larry Love. It’s just a way of keeping ourselves amused.” And for the boy who used to go to Merthyr Mormon Chapel there are some fantastic stories to be told… “Three of us got busted the night we got signed. The head of the label said we could help ourselves to any drinks we wanted and put it on his tab. So we bought loads of Crystal Champagne and then 10 of us piled into this little mini and promptly got nicked!” On this night at Sub 29, Alabama 3 showed all the passion that has kept them partying since the meeting between Spragg and Black at an acid rave in Peckham, and their first venture into music when they went to Italy and “played some Detroit techno and sang some Hank Williams songs over the top. It was in 1986/87 when Samplers were just coming out and we took our record collection of a load of blues and gospel and it mutated from there. Our first song was based on a serial killer sung in the first person which was quite cool.” The night’s set was enthusiastically delivered by the animated and enigmatic Larry Love and his eight cohorts. Tracks such as Lockdown and The Night We Nearly Got Busted provided a cool and charming build up to the immense Sweet Joy, which got the place rocking and was greatly received by the adoring audience, and plausibly the best song of the night. It’s one of A3’s hot tunes and has helped them to their current success. And Larry Love was happy to admit, “We haven’t sold too many records, but we’ve certainly made a career out of it. We’ve got a tremendous live reputation, and that’s what it’s all about!” Following this it’s plain to see that the A3 party is still in full swing. “I think there’s a lot more to come because we’ve set the benchmark so high. It was a gamble to mix those genres, but we’re still recording now and making a living out of it. It takes people a while to get their heads around us, but you can listen to our back catalogue now and you can realise that we’re really serious about it.” Spragg was in fine form. I asked, “Have your tastes changed over the last 10 years?” And “No!” replied the front man. “It’s still Stella and lime and whiskey!” Following a brief stay offstage the ninepiece came back on to great applause, kicking back in with the enigmatic and outrageous Woke Up This Morning. A track which has popularised the band due to its use as the title track on hit television show The Sopranos, though it’s also been used on The Simpsons. “We are really really proud to be associated with those programmes. When I move to America I’m going to live in between Tony Soprano and Homer Simpson. What a thing for a Welsh national to live in America and in between those two! And what a wicked street that would be — gangsters one side and
cartoon characters the other. You knows it!” The tag line of Welsh rappers GLC, shows that Spragg is still in touch with his roots… “I love the Super Furry’s music and you’ve just got to dig the Manics.” Alabama 3 closed a fantastic night with the mellow country tune Too Sick To Pray and a rock ’n’ roll belter, Twisted (Peace In The Valley). The chaos of Alabama 3 though is far from over. They have a passion for it. They are currently doing some free downloads of half-finished ideas. “We’re going to put some tracks that we’ve broken down into different parts and have a competition who can come up with the best remixes and do a remix album.” I look forward to it!
t takes a lot to spit in the face of adversity, but Feeder have done just that. When others would have faltered, they continued on after the loss of one of their friends and band members — just like the Manic Street Preachers. A form of therapy that hides the darkness in their past. “There’s always going to be that memory, but we have to move on. Jon lives on three Feeder albums. He’s always in our minds, but this is about the next chapter.” Feeder’s roots go back to Newport in Gwent, where in the early 90s Grant Nicholas and Jon Lee crashed about the city in their grunge band Temper Temper. With a move to London and a name change to Reel the pair joined forces with the talented Tokyo-born bass player Taka Hirose. The now renamed Feeder signed to the Echo label and soon released their debut EP Two Colours, winning prestigious support slots that helped build their fan-base. 1996 saw the release of Swim, a six-track mini album that gained moderate success and notoriety with the single Crash that scraped into the Top 40. The first proper debut album Polythene was voted album of the year  by Metal Hammer magazine and placed the threesome amongst the big boys on the scene, but it was their second album Yesterday Went Too Soon, released in 1999, that saw Grant’s song writing developing into a more commercial style. It was at this point that I personally was introduced to the band, supporting the Manic Street Preachers at their massive Manic Millennium concert on New Year’s Eve 1999, the first major event at the newly-built Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. They played along side the Super Furry Animals and Shack, and impressed me with their aggressive stance and strong live performance — especially when billed alongside two of Wales’s finest. You just knew they were a band to watch. It wasn’t until early 2001 when they broke the back of the charts with their first single from their third album Echo Park, the pop sensation Buck Rogers (a fixed feature in every boy racer’s car at that time) that Feeder were recognised as a major force. The furore that followed them throughout that year was unfortunately short lived. On the 7th January 2002 drummer Jon Lee was found dead in his Miami home. Cited as suicide due to depression caused by marital problems he had hung himself using a dog chain. Over a thousand mourners turned up to pay their respects at Lee’s open funeral at St Mary’s Church in Newport back in Wales. Nicholas and Hirose vowed to continue for the fans saying, “It just seems tragic to give up now.” They recruited former Skunk Anansie drummer Mark Richardson and later that year released new material — single Come Back Around paid tribute to Jon Lee and was off their fourth album Comfort In Sound. And on they strove. January 2005 saw the release of Pushing The Senses which held the classic single Tumble And Fall while in March 2007 they released Picture Of Perfect Youth, a b-sides and rarities album. With such a back catalogue under their belt it was no surprise that in 2006 Feeder decided to release the 20track ‘best of’ entitled simply The Singles. One of the additional new tracks and single released to advertise the album was the anthemic Lost & Found. ‘Best of’ albums usually signal a passing of a band, as their record company try and make money from an artist in the last throws of their life. Not the case with Feeder. In the autumn of 2008 they release new material on their brilliant Silent Cry album and have shown that true talent really never goes away.
So now to the present and Feeder have come back to their old stomping ground in Newport to give their long-standing fans a set to remember. Firstly the support act. This was the first time for me to hear Fightstar and I was shocked at the complete transformation of former Busted singer Charlie Simpson. Fightstar only played a couple of songs but it was evident that they have something growing in them which I expect will take them to bigger things in the future. There were quite a few fans in the audience considering they were supporting Feeder who are on a different musical spectrum, who did their heroes proud in the mosh creating a brilliant atmosphere and something fun for more sensible people like myself to watch. Deathcar is a mosher’s song in every sense of the word and was the standout track from the band. Onto the headliners and Feeder had brought along the most impressive light show I’d seen in ages, which blinded the audience as they opened up with We Are The People from their most recent album Far Cry. Delivering their set with a passion that we’ve grown to love from these boys, they performed what was a greatest hits set producing song after song of classic Feeder. Most notably were the songs from their defining album Echo Park which included Oxygen, We Can’t Rewind, Seven Days In The Sun, and of course clear crowd pleaser Buck Rogers which sent everyone into a mad frenzy. I was a bit disappointed, though, that they didn’t play my personal favourite track Paper Faces, but all is forgiven to the lads for putting on an almighty show filled with passion. A crescendo was reached by another recent song called Fires, the thoughtprovoking lyrics of which you could see from Grant Nicholas’s face were written about a subject that truly meant something to him. Or maybe it was the fact that he had dedicated
it to their crew whose tour bus had gone up in flames the previous week! Though former drummer Jon Lee was never mentioned Nicholas did dedicate the song High to his ‘absent friend’. One standout moment was when midway through Lost & Found the band gave a rendition of the mighty Foo Fighters track All My Life, which again sent the crowd into a frenzy. The band returned for a three-song encore ending the set with Just A Day rightly kept for the finale as this was the last single released before Jon Lee died. Incidentally this song was originally a b-side but after much campaigning from the band’s fan-base Feeder succumbed to the demands and it has since became a main focal point for the band’s live gigs ever since. Feeder are a subtle band, a band that tend to never be regarded as a favourite band but are always listed in that Top 10. Their performance, though not as in-yer-face as those heady early days, is still heartfelt perfection. The thousands of fans would agree to that. This kind of homecoming, at least for Grant, has seen a lot of water under Newport’s transporter bridge — and Wales still regards them as her own.
Words by Gary Bolsom & Gail Griffiths Photographed by Darren Warner @ Newport Centre
Photographs by Darren Warner
emory And Humanity is out and Funeral For A Friend decide to take the live set to the people of Wales. So rather than playing one big event, as they did last year in the Cardiff International Arena, they come face to face with their audience in some low key venues. PLUGGED IN followed them from Tenby to Swansea to Cardiff then Wrexham and finally Aberystwyth, and as a result this four-page picture special â€” with photographs taken at some of those dates â€” is dedicated to the band and captures the Funeral live experience.
he atmosphere before a gig is usually the same wherever you’re going, whatever band you set your pleasure-meter to for the night. There’s that same tension rising higher with every second that passes, as eager fans anticipate the grand sight of those doors opening. There’s that firm look of strength on all bouncers’ faces that sets deeper the further the night goes on. And there’s that same feeling you get in every single gig you go to, if you live in Wales that is. No matter how old you are, which part of the Taff world you’re from, there’s that same shiver down your spine that you get while waiting in line — the wonderful Welsh weather, sweeping frost bite over your fingertips (and that would be a summer’s night). So on this dark December night, you can only imagine the chill feasting its way over bodies and, with a hefty helping of rain supporting it, it’s a wonder anyone can stand it. But this lot can. This lot, this frost-bitten but loyal gathering of fans are here to stick out this swine of weather, and they’re here to welcome their boys home. For two nights previously they had been slowly working their way back into Wales after a huge UK tour, and for two nights following tonight they’re going to continue to spread their season’s greetings, making sure all of Wales gets a chance to embrace their return. Tonight, this lot are here to see none other than the hometown glories that are Funeral For A Friend. As we’ve been told by the boys already, they love playing at home, and they love their intimate shows more than their arenas, so swapping last year’s CIA Christmas show for five mini Welsh dates that include Tenby, Swansea, Wrexham, Aberystwyth and tonight’s Cardiff, they get their many welcomes home, and they get to play to even more of their favourite fans, us lot back home! The night starts off with Cuba Cuba and their pop-rocky sort of sound. All the support bands on the bill have been chosen by the FFAF lads themselves, letting the unheard of underground bands from Wales have their shining time. Cuba Cuba manage to get the crowd dancing along with them, and after a short set of about 20 minutes, off they go, with a good few more fans under their belts. Next up were Attack! Attack! who took to the stage with their heavier pop-rock, and even for those who didn’t like the music all that much, watching guitarist Ryan Day lose his head in the music was, well, worth being there to see. The last support act actually surprised me. The Cancer Bats came a whole lot further than the other bands and were a complete change of pace. Setting sail all the way from Canada, these guys literally blew my head off with their heavy metal music, so much so, I almost broke my neck from head-banging so hard after the second song. Now the moment we had all been waiting for drew closer and closer. To say you could cut the tension with a knife would be understating it by a vast amount. So when the lights dimmed and five figures appeared on the stage, Cardiff University Great Hall quite literally erupted. Breaking into song after song, these boys soared through the night, playing so perfectly and so full of pride, simply for the fact they have so many homegrown fans who were here to see them tonight. They cruised through their greatest of hits, and when the first few bars of Juneau were played I got thrown around in a sea of dancing and jumping, and of pure enjoyment. Because you see that’s one of the things with this lot. No matter how many times you see them, every time they have something different about them. Both you and the band have matured in some way, so you can understand every word of every lyric of every song, and you can feel so deeply about those lyrics, that you simply have to jump around like a maniac just to show how, well, how chuffed you are that you can feel the true meaning of the songs. One surprise that had me filled with glee tonight was a song I’d never heard live before, a song that I simply adore, but never thought I’d hear in the flesh — Your Revolution Is A Joke. The atmosphere was truly beautiful as this song was played out to the crowd, every single person singing those words back to Matt, and every single word emphasised with at least some kind of emotion. After a brilliant and tiring set to say the least, we were gifted with an encore which finished the night off with an explosion and sent every single person in the room out with a zesty smell of sweat, an achy feeling all over their bodies and the biggest grins on their faces, knowing that they had just spent the night with Funeral For A Friend — and let me tell you, it was a night worth waiting for. KAYLEIGH EDWARDS
t’s been a while, clart. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the Newport (mock) rappers on my TV screen for a little longer than I care to discuss. But it seems things are on the rise once again with the band releasing fresh new singles and a fantastic new album for 2009. New Day was available for download on New Year’s Eve 2008 and has had excellent feedback with fans enjoying the more mature sound of the new stuff. Their new album Asbo4life is due for release on 6th April. The album will be preceded with a single, By Any Means Necessary, on 16th March. The group will heading out on a full UK tour in March in support of the album, with the tour been kicked off on the 14th January with a unique warm-up gig at the Metro in London. The gig was the focus of much musical gossip when it was reported that it was going to be free for the punters to get in, on the condition that they cough up some cash on the way out. How much they donated was based on their enjoyment and the value of entertainment. I know. Awesome, right? The lads did indeed keep their promise and punters did indeed enjoy an evening of delightful entertainment, with the end profits not exactly going to plan — we’ll get onto that bit in a minute. Their first UK Chart Entry was Half-Man Half-Machine/Self Suicide which was originally about one of the members (Eggsy) believing he was a robot, dressing in foil, and then going to the shop to buy 10 fags and some crisps. Bizarre, some would say. Hilarious, says me. Even more hilarious is that when the single reached the top 40, group member Dwain Xain Zedong (aka Rhys Hutchings) was phoned by BBC chart presenter Wes on the Official Chart Show to be informed of this, and Xain then informed the rest of the band, live on air, that they had reached Number 1. Much to the shock of the DJ! In August 2004, the group reached Number 3 in the UK singles chart with probably their most famous song so far, Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do which came with the tagline, The gun is the tool, the mind is the weapon. It’s the humour of these tracks, and indeed the rest of their music, that captures listeners all over. They take the mick out of ‘chav culture’, out of our own little Welsh-isms, and out of themselves. Their music satirises Gangsta Rap and the American Hip Hop scene by highlighting the difference between the
local boys and their deliberately unglamorous image, as opposed to the media hype and glamour typically associated with the Hip Hop/ Gangsta scene. With many successful tracks to date, including the crudely popular Your Mother’s Got A Penis and the locally loved You Knows I Loves You, the group have steadily built up a loyal fan base that understand their humour, motives, and music. Other tracks, like the brilliantly funny Your Missus Is A Nutter has drawn a mixture of laughter and outrage, with the group controversially dedicating the song to Victoria Beckham which resulted in them being summoned by the Newport Mayor’s office, who also objected to the title of their album, Safe As F**k. The band were later invited by the Football Association of Wales to perform before the World Cup qualifying match against England at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2005, where they once again caused a stir by famously dedicating the song about his wife to David Beckham (VB was also present at the match). The Welsh Football Authorities later had to issue apologies to the Beckhams, despite David Beckham appearing to take the joke in good humour at the match. After being dropped by their record label and being away from their fans for a while, it now looks like the band are finally back on the scene to whoop us with some more of their towel dry, cringe worthy, goldie looking tunes, and I was super excited to catch up with GLC’s Rhys Hutchings and have a chat about their new UK tour, their new album, why some people just don’t get them, and what exactly the profits from the free gig were spent on… MM: Your new single New Day reminds me of Deep by East 17 — in a good way. It’s very different to some of your old stuff. Is the rest of the album as much of a contrast to your previous albums? RH: Deep? Which one is that? MM: You know…(sings like a fool) “Deep baby, deep deep down…like sleep sugar…” No? RH: No-oooo… (laughing) I haven’t heard it. I can’t believe I don’t know what song you’re talking about! I���m going to look that one up when I get off the phone! But yes, this album has a different feel to previous ones, a more mature feel I think. It’s the first time we’ve ever used live instruments all the way through
an album. We’ve used live instruments in the past on various albums, but it’s always been samples and then a bit of live. But on this album we used live instruments all the way through. MM: Did you play any of the instruments yourself? RH: Yes I did! I’m very proud actually. It’s nice to have a body of work where you’ve done it all yourself. I borrowed a guitar from my sister’s boyfriend, and I got a keyboard, and I had a tambourine too, it was great! MM: How did you enjoy your gig at The Point for Swn? It was a crazy atmosphere there. RH: I know, it was madness! They had a big tent in the middle of the room, it was crazy! I had a great time, the crowd were really good. I bought a suit from ASDA for £15 and wore that for the gig. I thought I looked cool, and then when I got there everyone was wearing really weird outfits and completely upstaged me! MM: So you have a huge new tour coming up. I’m shattered just thinking about it! How do you all get on during these kinds of tours with so many of you in such an intense environment? Which one of you is most prone to flipping out? RH: The tour is massive, I’m shattered just thinking about it too! We’ve just added a new date for Shrewsbury, it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m really looking forward to it. Maggot is the one who flips out. He sleeps all the time, he loves to sleep, and if he’s woken up he gets really narky! We all get on fine though because there are so many of us that if you get bored or agitated with one person, you can just go and chill out with another one, so it never gets to the point where we really get on each others nerves. MM: I love the free gig idea with the ‘pay what you want’ thing at the end. How did it go? Were the punters honest enough to pay well if they really enjoyed? I think it’s such a fantastic concept to base the amount that you pay on the value of the entertainment. It may very well take off in the future with other bands. Whose idea was it to do this? RH: It was our manager’s idea actually. He got it from the Radiohead album — you know, the one where you could pay what you wanted for the album? It was a really good idea, and to be fair the majority of people who came to the gig donated well at the end of it. The thing is, people weren’t obligated to come to the gig.
OKIN’CHAIN They had the tickets for free so it was up to them if they turned up or not, and the fact that they did turn up and they did pay something at the end was really good for us. You just have to have some trust sometimes don’t you? I mean, you don’t go to a good restaurant and not tip, do you? That’s just rude! I was talking to someone in a restaurant the other day about it actually. He was French, and he was saying that apparently they do it all the time in France. You go somewhere to watch a film for instance, and then if you like it, you pay at the end. I think it’s a fantastic concept and if we had more of that here, and we got used to that kind of culture then I think it would have a really positive effect on us. The only problem was, we didn’t see any of the profits because we hired a van for the travelling, and it cost us £200 with the petrol and everything, and then we cracked the windscreen by accident and had to pay about £250 to have that fixed, so any profit we made from the gig all went on the bloody van! (laughs) Typical, isn’t it? MM: Maggot had a little extra fame of his own when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother a couple of years ago. What was it like to see him on the programme? RH: That was so strange! It was fantastic to see him on the TV, but very surreal. I was like an obsessed Big Brother fan when he was on there!
Here’s a basic rundown of the GLC dictionary — just in case you want to impress your mates next time you’re warming up to see the lads at a gig! A-Team Van (n) — a drinking game which involves at least three people standing in a circle passing and drinking a bottle of Lambrini while singing “get on the A-Team Van, get on the A-Team Van!” Bra (n) — a friend Bufflin (vb) — to run from a fight Clart (n) — a person who knows about the GLC Cock Socket (n) — vagina Craig Davids (n) — large set of oversize headphones Cunnie Weed (n) — extremely strong herbal remedies
I don’t usually watch it, but when Maggot was on there I was having automatic updates on my computer and everything! Every 10 minutes my computer would give me the latest news and I hated it if I missed anything. I’d go to the loo and come back and there would be an update saying ‘Maggot is making a drink’ or something like that, and I’d be like ‘What? When?!’ MM: A lot of your likeability boils down to the fact that you’re local boys with a good sense of humour. I love that you take the mick out of ‘chav culture’, out of our Welsh-isms, and out of yourselves, and some of the lyrics in your songs ring so true that it makes you cringe! (Once again make a fool of myself by mimicking… “I bought you this necklace, It cost me £12, From Argos, Elizabeth Duke…”) That song still cracks me up to this day! But I have come across some people in the past who just don’t get it. They don’t understand what the band is about. They don’t understand the humour behind your music, and are critical of the band as a result. Is that super frustrating? RH (after laughing again at foolishness of my terrible voice): It can be frustrating when you get criticised for something because people assume that you’re trying to do something/be something that you’re not. We’ve been called ‘wannabe rappers’ so many times now that it’s just old news. We know who we are, we know
Dean Gaffney or Dean (n) — your house Dragon Taxis (n) — taxi service in Newport Draw (n) — herbal remedy Driver’s Choice (n) — very weak lager Get In Nice (n) — another wonderful concept as introduced to us by the Maggot, involves making oneself comfortable and ensuring everything you need is within arm’s reach. Cold, hungry and tired? Bad day at work? Haven’t got out of bed yet and you’ve already had enough? Get in nice Leisurewear (n) — sports related clothing Permaleish (adj) — to wear only leisurewear at all times, ie weddings, barmitzvahs, court appearances, etc. See also: Semileish Pubes In Batter (n) —onion bhaji Rave It Up (vb) — to have a good time Raz (adj) — something that is good Red (n) — chicken tikka massala
Words by Maria Murphy
what our music is about, and more importantly we have fans that are intelligent enough to know what we’re about as well. You’re always going to get people who just don’t get you, but it doesn’t bother us really — I mean, that’s part of our appeal. We’re all genetically different, you can’t force people to like something; some people like the colour pink, some people like the colour blue. I suppose what surprises me is the amount of people who do get it. We were in a cab in London the other day and the cab driver knew who we were and was like ‘You knows it!’ which was quite funny. So it’s not just Welsh people who get us, we have fans all over. It is what it is, at the end of the day, and as long as people are enjoying themselves that’s all that matters really. MM: Do you have a message you’d like to give the readers of PLUGGED IN before you go? RH: Thanks for having us, I hope you all enjoy the new album, chill out, enjoy yourselves, and be good! (There were some other choice words that Rhys wanted to pass on, but unfortunately they’re not suitable for publishing!) Rhys then had to return faithfully to his bowl of blackjacks and fruit salad sweets, which were the topic of discussion for the next five minutes or so, along with the subject of WHAM bars, and which of these confectionaries were the nicest. Old school, braaaa!
Safe (vb) — 1: a greeting, 2: a measure of quality Safe As F**k (vb) — really good Semileish (adj) — only wearing leisurewear for special occasions, such as weddings, barmitzvahs, court appearances, etc. See also: Permaleish Shirley Bassey (n) — toilet Splew (n) — friend Valley Commando (n) — youths from the South Wales Valleys out in local towns looking for female company, often seen with a toothbrush in the shirt pocket Yates’s (n) — popular night spot, good to meet girls You Knows It (vb) — to understand the GLC For more, visit: www.youknowsit.co.uk
Words & Photographs by Darren Warner @ The Bank, Port Talbot
LUGGED IN has always felt that Friends Electric are one of the most intriguing bands on the South Wales circuit, and we respect their courage to be diverse in a land dominated by heavy guitars and scream-at-you rock. We wanted to find out what drives them on so with a pad full of questions I travelled westwards to Port Talbot where they were headlining one of BBC Radio One’s Bethan Elfyn’s Introducing... shows at the Bank. Passing the bright neon lights of the steelworks with its smoke belching skywards, I entered the town I noticed a sign saying crematorium and seemingly pointing to the works as if trying to make a point. This is an industrial landscape, reminiscent of the world that Tubeway Army created on their seminal album Replicas from where Friends Electric got the inspiration for their name. You see, I was a bit of a Tubeway Army fan, seeing early live performances on many occasions back in 1979/80 (yes, I’m that old). So my first question to the boys was: Did you gleam any influence from Gary Numan or was it just the name Friends Electric that interested you? And this is what they told me. “Matt was buying a lot of cheap vinyl off eBay and picked up Gary Numan around the time we were looking for a name. I got to rehearsals one morning and the boys said we’ve got something no matter if you like it or not. I think it sums us up pretty well.” So why then did the band take the electronic road? “I guess you could say the seed was planted when I was growing up. If you play any single off Homework by Daft Punk, any Fatboy Slim, Children by Robert Miles, stuff like that from the mid to late 90s, it really does bring back good memories of younger days. Things really started though after we accidently stumbled upon our first dance show. We thought we were going to see Soulwax the band. But it turned out to be Radio Soulwax who re-mixed their own album into an electro album and played it live. The place was bouncing from back to front from start to end. It was relentless and completely awe-inspiring. We knew then that we wanted that for us.” So what’s the background history of FE? “We’ve been a band now for around two years, formed as an experiment I guess. We really didn’t know where it was going to go or what we were going to do. I think we’re still in that developing stage to a certain extent.” Friends Electric are probably the most unique band on the South Wales circuit, which is full of guitar-fuelled rock and screamo. How do they feel about being that individual? “Good. But, lonely at times. It’s rare we’re ever able to just jump on a bill with someone as we just don’t fit in. We’re really proud of what we’re doing though and to be perceived as the people who were doing it first around here, it feels good.” And how has their unique sound developed? “It’s something that’s just
happened progressively. We started with only two synthesizers then three, then we bought a sampler and dabbled in triggering drums. We then bought a vocoder and started looking at analogue synths. I bought a Korg MS-10 but it’s only seen our studio so far as we run out of channels on our desk to play it live. It’s pretty boring stuff... you don’t want to get in to it.” I then wondered how they felt people in Wales perceive Friends Electric’s live performances? “I’m not really sure how people perceive it. We’re in a kind of transitional phase at the moment so things are always changing even for us.” I don’t personally believe I’ve ever seen a bad Friends Electric performance, just different crowd reactions. When those watching get it you must feel like you’ve smashed through a door. How does a good reaction feel to you? “It feels like nothing you’ve ever felt before. It’s indescribable. Once it’s over you crave the feeling until it happens again.” So what have been the high points for the guys so far? “We’ve had so many high points, it’s hard to pick one out from the rest. Our first show was a sell out, our second was at the Full Ponty 2007. We’ve supported Crystal Castles, The Whip, Shiny Toy Guns, Alphabeat — all were amazing shows, it’s been a great trip so far!”
showed a sense of humour. Excellent stuff. Local town heros Kid, Keep Dancing gave us some strong straight up indie rock anthems. Energetically thrashy with some frothy edges attached they performed as if it was pure pleasure to play and seemed overwhelmed by the positive response. The crowd reacted perfectly: “We sing woooo, you sing wooo.” WOOO! Great Fun. And so to the main act of the night and, of course, something completely different — Friends Electric. Their full-on electronic performance can’t be an easy thing to capture live due to the immense technical side that’s involved. But despite a few technical hitches, the boys start their performance of non-stop hard electronics with a thumping drum beat to carry them forth and win over this mainly rock biased crowd. They are different and because of that difference they are always facing an up-hill struggle to prove themselves to new people. But at the Bank tonight they succeed again with gusto, strong will and, of course, a brilliant performance. Hands pump the air and pretty girls in barely next-to-nothing dresses dance around their handbags in a frenzy. The boys don’t stop twiddling and don’t look up during the performance, they are focussed and in another zone —and they take the crowd with them all the way.
The Bank itself was one of those nightclub/ bar cross-overs where your wouldn’t expect to find live music of this calibre. For one thing you didn’t stick to the floor and the walls weren’t covered in dents from excessively thrashed guitars, oh and the welcome was, well, welcoming — even from the bouncers. Bethan Elfyn warmed up the place by spinning a selection of CDs to the mass of people below her DJ booth, before jumping on stage to introduce the first band Tiger Please. Despite not giving an overly energetic performance) even by lead singer Jimmi’s own admission, “I’m too fat to dance around”), they prove that they’re a growing and intriguing band that deliver a set of beautifully well constructed songs. Listen to This Side Of This Town and the brilliant Lights & Sound and you’ll know what I mean — and why Ryan Richards of Funeral For A Friend now has them under his management belt alongside their friends Cuba Cuba. SaidMike have bounced back with a real sense of maturity since the release of Stop The Clocks (reviewed in Issue 3) as if they’ve stepped up a gear. Tonight they launch straight into a vibrant and exciting set that’s full of pace with a bitingly raw edge that makes your flesh creep. Tom exclaims that “We probably won’t make it on to the radio as we’re noted for playing notes that are a bit...well, er...bum!” Well guys, I didn’t notice any. Let Yourself Go added a new dimension to their performance with a funky backbeat, while their single It’ll Be Fine At Christmas Time, whose proceeds go to children’s charity Ty Hafan (nice one boys)
So what does the future hold for FE? “We’re really hoping to get a serious amount of shows under our belt in 2008. We’ve been sat in our studio for months and months and months now only being able to play shows here and there. It’s been amazing but we want other people to hear what we’ve been up to now!” Strength, determination and passion drive these guys forward though the quagmire that is the music industry here in Wales. They could quite easily slip into that studio and simply push out tracks like the afore-mentioned Fat Boy Slim without recognising the live performance world that surrounds them. But no, they have the music, the ability and the guts to display themselves to everyone’s critical eye. And here at PLUGGED IN we have nothing but respect for them.
People In Planes Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Probably the next big Welsh thing graced the capital with their presence from their New York home — I’ll explain that complication later! So in their words, “Welcome to what is becoming a regular yearly event.” Prior to them taking the stage we’re subjected to two very interesting performances. Firstly Starsnonstars with their dreamy guitar noise over which we hear some slightly out of kilter singing, followed by the impressive Walker whose lead singer seems to stand on his toes while hunching his body over the mic spitting words out like a pecking bird of prey. A damned exciting performance that included the anarchic Total Disruption makes these guys ones to keep an eye on. People In Planes, originally from Porthcawl now based in New York, produce amazingly powerful pieces of melodic rock and play with such conviction you know they are seasoned and ready for the big wide world. They build layer upon layer of music like a painter would on a canvas, with many standout songs including the dark melodramatic Last Man Standing and the Nation Radio friendly Pretty Buildings. With a second album out this year, though their first in the UK and titled Beyond The Horizon, expect big things. They recently supported the Stereophonics in America. Believe me at this level with their songs it won’t be long before they fill stadiums on their own. DW
Primal Scream Cardiff University
Primal Scream creates the ultimate rock ’n’ roll party via an impeccable and innovative CV that has set pop precedents. This iconic act has delivered aural adventure across three different decades — and, there are no signs of the standards slipping on the 2008 Beautiful Future album. As a live entity the band can go one faster, one louder and one better — and a colossal Cardiff University gig displayed the diverse and dexterous nature of the Primal Scream tune tapestry. A gathered Friday throng ended their week on a high via a concert that meandered between a series of sublime sonic stations. The cool charisma of Bobbie Gillespie (vocals) takes focal point as his accomplices are akin to a runaway juggernaut jumping every red light. The core of the fresh material is radio friendly, but the gung-ho gear changes of a welloiled combo ensures a cutting edge, stage stomp. The crowd danced and waved and smiled and sang as their heroes were Movin’ On Up to the upper echelons of their Riot City Blues. A multitude of anthems are unleashed as the lads delve into their immense and immaculate back catalogue, and after around 90 minutes of high octane sounds the punters still demanded more. Primal Scream carries the torch for a good time vibe-and, long may their energetic industry prosper! ROB JONES
Cardiff International Arena Simple Minds have been celebrating 30 years live with a series of major UK gigs, and these shows are proving their creative kudos came within the first five years of their existence. A full house at the CIA experienced a two-hour set that peaked in the opening half hour with the forceful pomp of Waterfront, the dance dynamism of I Travel and the lustrous duo of Love Song and The American. These timeless works have had an immense influence on the globe of groove, and such electro/rock guile fed into the commercial rewards of New Gold Dream and a foot onto the ladder of stadium rock status. A hardcore following thrived on the hits in the Welsh capital, and the clapping hands and big choruses filled the air when listening to Promised You A Miracle, Alive & Kicking, Don’t You Forget About Me and Someone, Somewhere In Summertime. Kerr shovelled on the showmanship and the fans lapped it up. ROB JONES
The Conway, Aberdare Former singer of 90s band The Seahorses performed a rare live set in Aberdare of all places and was I delighted! The Seahorses were one of my favourite bands of the 90s and, sadly, only produced one album during their tenure — which I think was a classic. Thankfully, Chris Helme performed a number of tracks from the album much to my delight. Classics such as Blinded By The Sun, Hello, Love Me & Leave Me and the much acclaimed Love Is The Law. Being a guitar based band (guitarist being John Squire formerly of the Stone Roses) took nothing away from Chris’s acoustic performance, in which he delivered each song with the intensity that made me a big fan all those years ago. I found myself belting out all his classics in the crowd of fans with the great man himself and may have peeved off some members of the audience — but couldn’t help myself from singing as loud as I could, and in fact was joined by the rest of the crowd by the end of the night! Chris Helme is currently touring little venues around the country performing his solo stuff and is also fronting The Yards, so currently a busy man. Keep up the good work! GARY BOLSOM
Milkwood Jam, Swansea Charity gigs are always fun — you can get as sloshed as you like, safe in the knowledge you’re there for a worthy cause, oh, and to hear the best Welsh music around of course! Boy-girl acoustic duo Vintage Sound gently eased the night in, though the tender sounds of two guitars do nothing to suppress the volume of chatter in the room. At least the announcement of a cover of the highly successful, lesbian-istic I Kissed a Girl captures the attention of a few and the preoccupied claps of many. Formerly known as Fear Freak, Kasino are heavy indie at its poppy best. With a change of name, comes a maturity of sound, which gets the crowd rather excited — and it’s not hard to see why. Songs off a new EP include Hold On For Nothing and Hit Or Miss — both played tonight with remarkable
precision. Now, Touchfinder are good at what they do, but the blatant familiarity of last track of the set, Never Hold You Down to Muse’s Time Is Running Out is quite unnerving. Not many bands can get away with being so unintentionally similar to one of their greatest influences, but Touchfinder do. Gig organiser Lee Seager takes to the stage with his band The Showt playing, among others, exciting renditions of Bonnie Tyler’s Hero and The Undertones’ Teenage Kick. Sierra Alpha next graces the stage. Potentially the best Welsh band currently around, these five guys are simply stunning. With leitmotifs of love, girls and love again, you’d think the vocals would be whiny, but in fact every note, every riff, is catchy, danceable and radio-friendly to the last. A far-cry from the mellower start of the night, 21 Against are a bundle of energetic joy. Constantly on springs, looking rather like a kangaroo on pogostick equation, their Pearl Jam/Weezer sound retains that much soughtafter heavy-to-light balance, satisfying every music tastebud. Since adopting new vocalist Dai Butcher, AOV have managed to acquire an even heavier quality than before and give an explosive display of true quality. An amalgamation of pterodactyl-like screeches and galloping riffs prove this band are maturing fast. BECCA
Soda Bar, Cardiff If you don’t move to the Crazy P groove then you don’t have a beat in your body! The dynamism of Lady D (Danielle Moore) led a Crazy P collective in this compact venue where a dose of dance dexterity was the musical medicine to cure a Wednesday night fever. An appreciative audience bounced to a range of disco, soul, funk and house rhythms that are more outdoor summer festival than cold winter evening. Lady D rocks the stage with her striking elegance, sweet voice and alarming energy as the band keeps the sound tighter than a ducks rear cheeks soldered together with kryptonite! A sound that appears to wed the rhythmic hearts of Chic and Shakatak fills the floor. Go check the Crazy P experience — all they ask is for you to Give A Little and in return you are guaranteed to feel Warm On The Inside. ROB JONES
The Dirty Youth Barfly, Cardiff
Down with the Kids Promotions held their first gig at the Cardiff Barfly and did not disappoint with a good headliner. First on the all-rock bill were the Bridgend based band Evil I, whose singles have had regular radio play. The melodic vocals and energetic lead guitar are reminiscent of early 90s Peal Jam’s Ten album. Second on was Death Of An Icon, who kept the crowd entertained throughout with their solid hard rock line-up lead by Danny’s energetic and powerful vocals. Dead Against The Rest where the main support and their brand of straight up rock ’n’ roll generated a great party atmosphere ready for the headliners The Dirty Youth. The punk rock five-piece band, fronted by female vocalist Danni, kept the audience entertained with an electric stage performance. Leaving exhausted, with my ears ringing, the evening left me with distinct impression that this gig was undoubtedly the most powerful local line-up I have viewed recently. LAUREN WANNANBERG
Words by Victoria Turner & Darren Warner Live Photographs by Darren Warner @ Cardiff International Arena
hat does being Welsh mean to you? “I don’t quite understand when people ask those types of questions! To me that’s who and what I am. I’ve never been anything other than Welsh and it’s like asking what does being male mean to you if you’re a man! I’m proud of my origins and the morals and humour and sarcasm and judgement and upbringing that the Valleys gave me, but I don’t ever feel the need to shout about it in a touristy way because everyone who knows us already knows we are Welsh. I have my house in Cwmaman and it’s my own little sanctuary I built from the ground up with old quarry stone from the old working men’s club and schools they knocked down, so home is home. I spend my time in London, that’s where my children go to school and I love it there. My songs, my memories, my childhood, all come from Wales.” Okay. Probably not the best question to ask Kelly Jones, the front man of one of the biggest Welsh rock bands ever! But I do have a reason for that question, and talking to him on behalf of a Welsh music magazine felt the need to ask it. But I’ll get back to that later. The Stereophonics have recently released Decade In The Sun, a ‘best of’ compilation that covers their life since the release of their first single Local Boy In The Photograph and their subsequent first album Word Gets Around in August 1997. Yes, I know that’s actually 11 years but the title of the album wouldn’t have the same ring to it would it! Call it artistic licence. I ask Kelly about performing as the Stereophonics for over 11 years now, did he ever believe on the release of Word Gets Around they’d ever get to this position? “We always hoped. We always worked harder than any other band. We wanted it more and still do. Music isn’t a hobby to me, it is me. It’s how I express who I am and what I’m going through and thank the stars that I have something to release it all through. It’s an amazing lifestyle and gift that I hope to do forever.” It’s a far cry from the humble beginnings of three friends who hail from Cwmaman, near Aberdare in South Wales. Kelly Jones, who sings and plays guitar and Richard Jones, who plays bass, grew up together, along with original drummer Stuart Cable. They began writing and performing music in working men’s clubs together in 1992 as a teenage covers band known as Tragic Love Company. The band later changed their name to Stereophonics, named after the manufacturer of Cable’s father’s record player. In March 1996 the band played a gig at their local Coliseum Theatre. They played as Tragic Love Company and so impressed John Brand, a respected manager within the music industry, he signed a management deal with them after the concert. In May 1996 the band were signed to a newly formed record label,
V2, a label created by Richard Branson. It was around this time that the Press came up with the tag-line ‘Cool Cymru’ for an influx of Welsh artists and the interest that surrounded them — a tag that was associated with the Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, Feeder, Catatonia and, of course, the Stereophonics. Admittedly, on the surface this appeared to be a naive tag and has since morphed into Cool Cymru Two (LostProphets, Funeral For A Friend) and there has even been mention of a Cool Cymru Three (Kids In Glass Houses, Bullet For My Valentine). But unlike other Press tags for other music scenes, like the Shoegazers, the Manchester Baggy Scene or even Acid House, the Welsh scene didn’t just disappear. In fact it never went away — as proven by the fact that many of the aforementioned original artists have in recent years released greatest hits packages. Though the Press interest was a benefit because it opened the door to new listeners of Welsh bands, the music scene was more than a cool tag. Wales has always produced good bands and still has — hence the need for PLUGGED IN. Still 11 years in the public domain for the Stereophonics must have come with a few problems. So I ask Kelly, what’s been the high points and the low points? “The highs certainly outweigh the lows — headlining all the major festivals, number one albums, meeting our idols, and still making albums that are relevant. The low point was us parting ways with Stuart. But now he and I talk every week and that’s fantastic. We had and will always have a bond that noone will ever understand, it’s unspoken, we are very very similar people wrapped up in different guises.” I’m glad I heard that answer. It must have been a very difficult time when Stuart Cable parted company with Kelly Jones and Richard Jones and, though there are many speculative reasons around as to the whys, both parties have kept the reasons close to their chests. And PLUGGED IN isn’t really interested in that aspect anyway, as we’re all about the music not the gossip. Cable now plays drums with the brilliant rock act Killing For Company, who have already adorned the front cover of this magazine (Issue 3) and who are currently in the studio recording their first album. Now the Stereophonics have Javier Weyler in the drumming seat and play to stadiums all over the world. But how does a guy from Cwmaman cope with the fame and pressure of being a world-famous face? “I do all the same things I have always done. Buy my own food. My own clothes. Take my girls to school. Go to the pub. Whatever it is. If you let it get in the way it will kill you. I had trouble around 2000, but now I don’t care. It’s what and who I am.” So let’s bring this back to the present day — with such a repertoire of songs behind the
Stereophonics which one is Kelly proudest to have written? “Dakota, Maybe Tomorrow and Local Boy In The Photograph all seem to affect people the most...” You recently had Porthcawl band People In Planes supporting you in America. How difficult do you think it is for young Welsh bands to break through and get that all important record deal? “It’s difficult for all bands worldwide I think. We had it hard, so do bands in Glasgow or wherever. It’s about luck, perseverance, and wanting to be the best at what you do.” At 2007’s CIA gig for the Pull The Pin tour you performed a solo set, and repeated it in December 2008’s gig there. Are you considering releasing a second solo album or did Only The Names Have Been Changed get the feeling out of your system? “Performing the songs in that way is more personal and people love that. It’s been incorporated into the current tour with a string section and I love doing it. An album? If it happens it happens, but I’m not in any rush to do that.” The CIA performance was being filmed. Can we expect a Decade In The Sun live CD and DVD? “Everything has been filmed since 1996 — we have everything in the archive. Stuff comes out when relevant... not for the money but when it feels right.” Is there a difference playing in front of a home crowd compared to other countries? “My perception is that it’s a more vulnerable feeling. People from where you live, love you and hate you. Some want you to succeed, others want you to fall. But that’s more in the artist’s head than in reality. It’s just a different type of pressure. They expect more from you and don’t want you to ever go above your status. But at the same time they want you to be a huge star around the world to put the country on the map! It’s a fine line. Sometimes we have got it right and yet other times we haven’t, but ultimately the audience has a lot of people you know in it which immediately adds more pressure, for the first couple of songs anyway, then you forget, and so do they, then we all love each other again after a silent face off and the show rocks, and everyone is proud to be part if it!” You are probably the most successful Welsh band ever. Are you proud to be ambassadors for Wales or do you find the tag Welsh Band a burden? “It’s not a burden. I just don’t think things need a tag that big. The Rolling Stones aren’t classed as being the biggest English band ever. It’s music. I’m proud to be Welsh, of course. Sometimes if you box something in too much it’s not allowed to grow.” So what does being Welsh mean to Kelly Jones? It’s like he said. It’s just in him.
Pull-Out & Keep Poster
Cardiff International Arena The boys were on fine form exploding on to the stage with the epic rock number Las Vegas Two Times, which enticed the crowd into a state of frenzy. Throughout the gig there was an amazing atmosphere with everyone jumping around and mouthing every word to their songs. Kelly Jones with his trademark gravely and gritty vocals was brilliant. Belting out favourites Bartender & The Thief and Performance & Cocktails, he ignited the audience — and the fans loved every minute of it. My favourite performance of the night and one of the biggest surprises was when the band played one of their favourite tracks (and my favourite Phonics song), Same Size Feet. It’s a song I’ve never heard the band play live, so it was an amazing moment for me. One of the main highlights of the gig was the fantastic set list that the band had chosen to play. The choice of songs was genius, from the melodic Mr Writer to the fan favourite Have A Nice Day, the growling rock number Superman and the provocative Devil, then the beautiful It Means Nothing and the hand banging Bank Holiday Monday. It was clear to see that the band’s dynamics have changed with the additional fourth member, guitarist Adam Zindani — I feel that the addition of a permanent second guitarist creates a more edgy and rocky sound. Kelly Jones did his usual acoustic set, which was truly beautiful, playing the fantastic Just Looking and the haunting Billy Davy’s Daughter. Jones oozes confidence and vulnerability when on stage, and this was an emotional and magical acoustic set. The band rounded up a brilliant set with an encore of Traffic, which got the crowd chanting every word to a truly classic Stereophonics anthem, and ended with their number one hit single Dakota. I’ve seen the Stereophonics perform many times and this was by far the best I’ve ever seen them play. The gig was adrenalin- filled rock and roll, and I hope they’ll be around for another 10 years. I recommend everyone to go and check out Kelly & Co, as the Phonics are still one of the best live bands Wales and the world has ever produced. VICTORIA TURNER
Paul Heaton/Cerys Matthews Cardiff University
Cerys Matthews’s confidence in her ability and voice is so strong that you can’t help but hang on every note that exudes from her when she sings. She casually strolls onto the stage as if she’s just another girl with a guitar, and with one accompanist holds the audience in the palm of her hand with her captivating performance. The simplicity of the song structures just highlights their beauty and her unique voice carries them further than most acoustic acts can accomplish. Of course there’s her slightly self confessional anecdotes, like the one before playing her version of Love Me Tender. “I’ll play this song to all those women out there who buy those awful celeb mags and pretend they’re only looking at the fashion pages...like me!” Adding with a wry smile, “It’s terrible this celebrity stuff.” Paul Heaton, who kicked off his set with the theme from 60s classic film Get Carter, was a different kettle of fish. Coming over as a glorified pub singer and reading the words to his songs from sheets of paper, the set started off a bit dodgy to say the least. But as it progressed his distinctive voice and sideways look on life shone through, giving you an insight into why he was the force behind both The Housemartins and The Beautiful South — like on the singles I Do and Mermaids & Slaves. He also pointed out that the clothes he was wearing was similar to Shakin Stevens adding, “He’s from Swansea, ain’t he.” The set was mainly taken from his first solo album The Cross Eyed Rambler with little reference made to his past back catalogue with the two bands that made him a household name, and although these songs were good, was it what the audience wanted to hear from him? GG
The Point, Cardiff I don’t think there wasn’t a poster board around Cardiff that didn’t have Ida Maria’s new tour plastered all over it, so I went along to find out what it was all about. First on were UK alt-indie band Birdpen who played atmospheric synths on songs all about nature. VV Brown were next up and brought on the funk. More of a solo artist with a backing band, the singer’s unique voice really stood out with a style similar to
Amy Winehouse but better — and with the crowd thoroughly enjoying this act they’ve no doubt left a mark in some minds. After a wait Ida Maria takes to the stage. Her music throughout the set is catchy and gets everyone smiling and dancing, despite throwing in a few numbers with depressing lyrics. We get a unique set when she decides to tell the band to step back for a minute while she borrows the bass to play solo, which with the power of her husky vocals is striking. A drum solo leads into final hit of the night, with most of the crowd shouting out the lyrics “I like you so much better when you’re naked” and even getting a few guys stripping off their tops and dancing around. It’s just one of those songs that end’s the gig in triumph! NADINE B
Jam With Robina Mansion House, Sully
What more can you ask for — decent music from PLUGGED IN favs Jam With Robina and a curry! Now that was a night out we just couldn’t resist. Down at the Mansion House Hotel they’re trying to build up regular acoustic nights, with tonight being the first in which they gathered together some amazing acts, including two former members of The Hoods, the brilliant Amber Hour (who told us that they would be singing in front of Simon Cowell the following week!) and the slightly anarchic Sleepgoodfeelgood. All the acts were different and gave us powerful performances, though it has to be said that being on theh same bill as JWR must be difficult because they are of another class. It’s not just that they can sing and play guitars. It’s their song writing that takes them to a higher level. Take ELC, this song sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it live and even brings tears to my eyes. You can’t believe that such a talented duo aren’t riding high on fame. Well if PLUGGED IN can help someone get noticed, we will. GG
Venue Cymru, Colwyn Bay It was quite a good turn out for Venue Cymru’s first real gig as, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting more than 80 of the 800 people who turned up — but Enter Shikari made sure that it was broken in properly! The first band up was My Turn To Kill, who could only have been local considering the way the crowd were behaving and chanting “joskin” at them! But as I heard the opening riffs of Fell Silent’s set, I got the feeling things were looking up. After a brutal half an hour, and DJ P-Dex’s mini rave, the headliners had some hard acts to follow... Enter Shikari (which means enter the huntsman) played an energetic (if not entirely serious!) set, which involved Chris (bass) falling over on stage and Rou (vocals) getting mauled by the crowd. The intro was a euphoric mash up of P-Dex’s last tune and Enter Shikari’s “and still we will be here, standing like statues...” which was repeated a few times over the course of the night. The rest of the set included the usual crowdpleasers, as well as a few new songs, including the new single We Can Breathe In Space — which was just adorably geeky. When it came to the encore I was slightly worried that OK, Time For Plan B wasn’t on the cards, but fortunately they saved the best till last, and Rou finished off by actually diving into the crowd! Enter Shikari were the perfect band to break in what I’m sure will be a fantastic venue, as the party atmosphere and the laid-back attitude of both the band and the venue made it an unforgettable night. KIKKI STAVROS
Futureheads Sub 29, Cardiff
Straight up thumping indie rock from the Sunderland boys whose catchy tunes have caught the public’s attention. Tonight at Sub 29 they career through an amazing set list that includes the infectious and far more aggressive version of Radioheart and the bouncy I Can Feel It with its catchy singalong chorus. As to be expected there were the usual Northern witticisms like, “This is a new song. Well that is unless you downloaded it illegally four years ago... don’t worry I only lost my house, my wife and children because of you. Thanks for that.” Needless to say, they had to play the cover version that had brought them back into the limelight — having taken Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love, stripped it down to its bare flesh and given it a good pumping, they have actually made it their own. The Futureheads were heady, hard and enjoyable, more than just another band. DW
The Alarm/ Killing For Company The Point, Cardiff
Killing For Company opened up for The Alarm and performed to the standard everyone who has seen them live expects from them — fantastic! This lot are an ideal act to support The Alarm, which if you haven’t seen them before is evident with their powerful rock anthems being belted out by vocalist Greg, who sings like a dream and is not afraid of getting the crowd involved with some friendly banter. The Boy Who, a particular favourite of mine, when sung live shows just what this band is capable of. An energetic and tasty performance makes you think that KFC is the type of thing that even Colonel Sanders would find finger licking good! (Sorry, it had to be done at some stage in their career!) This gig was The Alarm’s second of three residency nights at The Point and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard a lot about the band but haven’t given them a listen and I was soon to discover what I’ve been missing out on all these years. Over 27 years in the business and they still sound fresh. What I was taken aback with the most was singer Mike Peters’ sheer passion for music, he must be the most enthusiastic man in music! Every song is performed with the intensity of it being his first, while at the same time being his last — he puts his body and soul on the line to deliver a first rate performance and The Alarm’s cult following can count themselves a lucky bunch for this reason. The band threw out stadium classic after stadium classic full of guitars, drums and all things loud. It sounded truly amazing in this small venue but I would imagine seeing them on a big scale is something else! A firm fan favourite Spirit of 76 went down a storm, but the track that particularly stood out for me was 68 Guns. This was the type of thing that bands of the 90s were doing 15 years later, which was the golden era for me, and meant that The Alarm were way ahead of their time. The Alarm performed for a staggering two hours, and at one point Mike Peters even jumped into the audience, singing and strumming his guitar in the middle! Many have compared The Alarm to U2 but I don’t see it personally in their sound, but in the way that they play they could take to the stadium stage and rock out much to the delight of their fans as well as U2 — which begs the question: Why haven’t they had as much success as their Irish counterparts? I don’t think Mike & Co are too bothered about this as they have their fans who have stuck with them through the years while also introducing themselves to new fans — me among them — and doing what means most to them more than anything in the world, getting up on that stage and giving it their all. GARY BOLSOM
The Coliseum, Aberdare What was the most memorable thing about Eddie Reader’s performance? Was it her voice? No, but that was as perfect as expected knowing that PLUGGED IN’s friend Geoff Cripps had booked her to play. Was it the musicianship, which was both delicate and precise? Nope! Ditto the reason above. It was her hand gestures, as she flailed about the stage as if acting out every note, winding herself up to sing out a line and conducting the highs and lows of her backing musicians’ music score. She had me transfixed. Of course she was probably oblivious to this reaction because she was really enjoying herself, a feeling that flowed into the audience who enjoyed her performance just as much back. She waved her arms during her hits from the the time she sang with her former group Fairground Attraction, like Patients Of Angels, Smile And A Whisper and, of course, the joyful Perfect. And there were the stories, some again harking back to the FA days — like the one she told about her father. “Dad was a big Elvis fan and never thought I’d make it as a performer. It was only during a Rangers/Celtic match that he heard the assembled fans sing, ‘It’s got to be-e-e-e-e- Celtic!’ that he truly believed I’d made it.” Sometimes the set dipped towards Scottish folk with renditions of Charlie Is Me Darling and the hauntingly beautiful Red, Red Rose but mostly we were treated with an up-tempo pop performance that whisked me back to memories of carefree days and less pressured times. GG
Parc & Dare Theatre, Treorchy It’s hard to slate Billy Bragg when he stands for such honourable causes — but, as a live entity the talk outweighs the tunes; the rhetoric outweighs the rhythm; and the politics outweighs the pop! As Bragg preached to his disciples at the Parc & Dare, his left wing stance was food and drink to a crowd from deep in the heart of socialist South Wales. Some of the chat was humorous, informative and enlightening, but more lengthy lectures were met with some derision. Bragg plugged his new album Mr Love & Justice, and turned back the years with the likes of Sexuality, NPWA, Levi Stubbs’ Tears and Accident Waiting To Happen. Nonetheless, the audience were desperate for more songs and less speeches — but Bragg, with only a guitar, several speakers and a mug of tea at his side, drives on like a Tony Benn mix tape! Billy Bragg best describes his product as being in the same light as Marmite (“You either love it or hate it”), and he admits that musicians can’t change the world — but, God bless “The milkman of human kindness” for offering a visceral voice! Over 25 years, Bragg has fought for social equality, unity and harmony, and he has rallied against the evils of fascism and its barbed wire subsidiaries such as racism, sexism and homophobia. Newcomers are advised to try out the two-CD set Must I Paint You A Picture?: The Essential Billy Bragg, on which the worries of the world and affairs of the heart take centre stage. ROB JONES
Words & Photographs by Darren Warner @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
t’s funny watching an empty club begin to fill up as the gig-goers start to arrive. There are a whole host of characters who walk through the door. Like the girl in the low-cut, cleavageexposing top or the innocent-looking girl whose partner insists on buying her an alcoholic drink even though he doesn’t have one himself. The Goth couple dressed head to toe in black or the gay couple who surreptitiously gently caress each other’s hands as if not wanting to attract attention. I see it all. But then they probably think who’s the old guy with the camera? Well whatever people are like I was interested in seeing who would actually come along to a gig by The Shortwave Set. Earlier in the evening, between the sound check and the actual performance, they’d taken time out to have a chat with me about their career so far. PLUGGED IN: Tell us about The Shortwave Set. TSS: “We are a three-piece group from Deptford in South East London, though Ulrika is originally from Sweden. We actually got together and recorded quite considerably before performing live. We never intended playing concerts, initially just concentrating on recording, but as people liked what they were hearing we decided to take to the road.” PLUGGED IN: Your music, and also the images and album covers on your myspace site, is reminiscent of the late Sixties. Is this a period that inspired you? TSS: “That period was a very creative time musically and, yes, has influenced us, though I wouldn’t call us revivalists. We’re not actually trying to recreate the sounds or music from that era, just the spirit and feelings. We tend to take elements from records that we personally like and combine them with modern approaches, because through this combination technique you can come out with something fresh on the other side.” PLUGGED IN: So what groups from that era do you most admire? TSS: “Velvet Underground, Leftbank.” PLUGGED IN: What do you think of Swanseabased band Man? Very influential in the Sixties, they celebrated 40 years in the business last year and featured in Issue 5 of PLUGGED IN magazine. TSS: “We haven’t really come across them to be honest, but I’ll be sure to look out for them.” PLUGGED IN: There’s a lot of lyrical interplay between Andrew and Ulrika on your songs. When writing, what comes first, the words or the music? TSS: “Sometimes it’s little pieces of music with a phrase, but often the words are completed last. The basic lyric idea is always there in the beginning as the words generate the mood that you’re trying to set for the song. Of course on occasions we’ll write just using the guitar and build around that. So the process works in a number of different ways.” PLUGGED IN: Listening to the music it seems to me that there’s been a lot of consideration to the lyrics. TSS: “In my eyes you need to do this as you could have a masterpiece which may be amazing with an excellent combination of melody, sounds and production, but a bad set of lyrics ruins it. So
it is important that the words match up to the quality of music.” PLUGGED IN: So what’s it like to be a melodic music group in a time that seems dominated by guitar-fuelled rock and girly pop? TSS: “Lonely.” PLUGGED IN: I thought you may say something like that because you do seem to be out there on your own. TSS: “It’s not really something we consciously think about. Though if we drift towards an area where we believe we’re getting close to what somebody else is doing, we’ll naturally back off from that direction. We want to be distinctive.” PLUGGED IN: A lot of groups seem to avoid coming over the Severn Bridge into Wales, but you haven’t. In fact you’re kicking off your Glitches & Bugs tour here. Why is that? TSS: “We love coming to Wales, it’s beautiful. We’ve come here quite a number of times playing gigs and festivals and have always had a good response.” PLUGGED IN: How was life on the road with Spiritualized? (The Shortwave Set recently supported the group on tour.) TSS: “What do you want to hear — the legend or the truth?” PLUGGED IN: Both, I’m not greedy. TSS: “Well the legend was it was insane, a constant party, but the reality was something different. Very professional. I think Jason (lead singer of Spiritualized) has been through his wild days. It was a pleasure to be on the tour and we also got a great reception at the gigs as well.” PLUGGED IN: So to the last question. What is it like to get hold of a Moby track and remix it? TSS (smiling): “Moby did say that our remix of Dream About Me was the most favourite he’d ever had done of any of his tracks.” PLUGGED IN: Not a bad response then? TSS: “We take that as a great compliment.” During the gig, TSS play a collection of beautiful melodic songs, their performance both subtle and dramatic but never over-milked or overposed, never becoming a gig based on style over content, the harmonised vocals blending perfectly with the music they play. During the gig we are subjected to some South London humour, “You may recognise this cover version, if we play it okay that is”, as they launch into Grace Jones’s Slave To The Rhythm. Songs like Is It Any Wonder from their first album The Debt Collection with its full-on vocals that are projected over the electronics, and Five Years Time which showed the beauty of Ulrika’s and Andrew’s vocals, help to display the diversity of the threesome and the talent they have at putting the songs together. Of course we were treated to the sublime single Glitches & Bugs described as a “masterpiece of quintessentially English pop” by the Sunday Telegraph, and end their performance with the glorious Sun Machine. Despite a few first night Glitches & Bugs (sorry guys, bad pun), TSS performed a unique array of songs that places them well apart from many bands that play Wales, sparkling with originality. Let’s hope that they travel over the bridge again — and soon.
Parc Hall, Cwmparc Beki Bondage was coming to Wales and I needed to see her. You see, I was one of those skinny teenagers who had her picture, which we ripped out of Smash Hits, sellotaped to my bedroom wall much to my mother’s annoyance. Now I wasn’t sure if it was the tape or what the leather-clad Beki actually represented, but I enjoyed it whatever. The amazing John Mouse, who seems to be pulling in some brilliant bands to his remote Cwmparc venue, had secured Vice Squad so I carried my now slightly larger carcass to see the legendary lady perform. First though, we experienced an explosively fast and furious performance by Threat Manifesto who with much gusto were trying to recreate the spirit of the punk explosion in 1976 with the Three Minute Wonders — except of course they weren’t even born then! I’m not sure what they were screaming about but they screamed it with the passion of a hyena on heat — on at 8pm, finished before quarter past. Next, First Among Equals gave us a more melodic approach to their performance, though just as fast paced. The vocals were tuneful while the guys strutted around the stage like duelling stags then going into ballistic overdrive and almost unplugging their guitars from the amps. With songs like Revolution Radio which PLUGGED IN reviewed in Issue 4 they were strong, impressive and worth coming to see alone. When Vice Squad came on their set didn’t remind me of the chaotic punk performances that I once frequented. Basically Ms Bondage showed the young upstarts how to do punk in a much more professional way than I ever expected to see. Dominating the stage with her bleached blonde hair and obligatory uniform of black leather mini skirt, ripped tights, studded belt and high heeled boots, she threw out adrenalin drenched rock at 100 miles per hour including anthems like Last Rockers, Stand Strong Stand Proud, Rock ’n’ Roll Massacre and Latex Love. Amongst the anarchy we also got treated to numbers from the new album Defiant and covers of Motorhead’s Bomber and Ace Of Spades. Of course we had the rebel stances of a fist held high on a tatooed arm with shouts like “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” and “stand strong, stand proud” like we were at a political rally, though it came with plenty of guitar break for the crowd to shout back “Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!” Beki may never have been the girl your mother would have wanted you to bring home, but she would have stood up for you in a fight. With such an aggressive performance it looks like she’s still fighting for you now. DW
Milkwood Jam, Swansea
Black Friday at Milkwood Jam, we wait in the whitewashed hallway as the sound checks are finished. Although sources agreed that doors open at 7.30, it’s 8pm before we’re let through, and nearly 9pm before the first band begin to play. Obviously the UK Subs abide by the traditional rules of gig timing, where you can safely turn up about two hours late without missing the headliners. Fortunately, my punctuality paid off this evening as I was able to fully enjoy the excellent local supporting bands. Charlie Harper (UK Subs front man) enjoys them as well. Through his endless touring, you can imagine he’s seen a few. He watches, grinning, bleached blonde head bobbing, and even joining the crowd for a while when the Sidekicks begin to play. Although listed at the bottom of the bill, the Sidekicks are a refreshing new talent, playing skillfully through a set of exciting originals as well as covering bands such as Operation Ivy. They were followed by the energetic Guffries, sounding like they had just come back from the Warped Tour in the best possible way. The penultimate band was The Groundnuts & Independents, encouraging the somewhat subdued crowd into action. As if by magic, the audience nearly doubles in size, and by the time the UK Subs take the stage, they were ready. The older set begins to draw away from the wall, girls ditch their jackets, and the crowd’s tentative bouncing gives way to a heaving, screaming pit. Harper loves it. Jumping about the stage and playing air guitar for the cameras, he sings with the energy of a man half his age. After an exuberant set and gracious encore, Harper descends to the bar for a drink with his fans, easily the most likeable legend there is. JESSICA RAMTHUN
The UK Subs have a strong South Wales following and as a result Charlie Harper and his sonic soldiers make regular visits to the principality. The latest visit came with a scintillating set, and despite over 30 years of hardcore, energetic enterprise Harper proves that he has the same drive that led him in to the limelight many moons ago! The band knows what their public wants and a fiery foursome duly deliver their aural arsenal of golden gusto. The legendary 1980 live album Crash Course constitute the core of a concert that turns a compact club in to a demonic dance hall; and, Harper is joined by several would-be vocalists from the crowd as both the performers and punters unite in the name of punk rock! The anthems are fired out in a fast and furious fashion and the tempo does not drop as the hits are hammered home! The high octane assault of Stranglehold, Warhead, Teenage and Tomorrow’s Girls once made the Top 40 a better place, and premium tunes such as CID, I Live In A Car, Left For Dead, New York State Police, Emotional Blackmail and Rockers mustered up a manic mosh pit! As Guns ’N’ Roses return to the big time, just remember that they covered the Subs’ song Down On The Farm. The Barfly has housed the UK Subs twice now and more dates will surely follow on the back of this visceral visit! ROB JONES
The Damned The Point, Cardiff
Since the halcyon days of the 70s The Damned has experienced many ups and downs, splits and reformations, line-up changes and a variety of record labels. When The Damned played Cardiff an animated audience was central to the electric entertainment — this band guarantee a pogo on the pavement of punk and a saunter on the sidewalk of psychedelia! To coat the sonic stampede there is also heaps of humour via the demented Captain Sensible and the debonair Dave Vanian. The crowd were taken through four decades of forceful decadence as The Damned dipped into the past and lapped up the present, courtesy of their new album So Who’s Paranoid? The fast and furious tunes whipped up a kaleidoscope of characters, and the motor of New Rose, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, Fan Club, Love Song and Stretcher Case Baby will never fail to fire up a faithful following. Neat Neat Neat with three bass players (ex-members Bryn Merrick and Paul Gray joined the proceedings) turned in to a free for all jam that was comical but took the sting out of a fans favourite. The 60s sway of certain songs head off on a musical meander that would be more at home with a carefree caftan community than a gathering seeking a rebel rock ride. Even the Captain suggested a tongue-in-cheek link to Santana after a three drummer led progressive piece went on forever! It was obvious that Smash it Up was going to send the show into orbit and that anthem was left to last in an energetic encore. The Damned plug their current release, unleash their mayhem and display that the class of 1976 still has a range of tricks. However, it is the nuclear new wave that will always perk up the party, and not a solo, semi-striptease (not so) Sensible Happy Talk concert closer! ROB JONES
Bring Me The Horizon Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Last time BMTH played here was in good ol’ Newport TJ’s known for its chaotic metal gigs, but this time Clwb had grabbed them and being the smallest venue on their tour was bound to be even more chaotic than before — you’re either going to love them or hate them. Deez Nuts stroll on first despite being all the way from the States and play some old school straight up hardcore metal, any fan of Hatebreed are going to like them. Clwb’s atmosphere is already bouncy and fans are already getting used to screaming down the mic that’s shoved their way. Dead Swans hailing from the UK start a bit more brutality and bring on the metal to get things going a bit more on stage. Some catchy riffs and hardcore mixed in as well as an eerie feel that surrounds their presence, meaning they’re here to play and cause some carnage. A complete change in genre now as the crowd prepares for another US band The Secret Handshake, some even here just to see this two man band. Considering the complete change to the very poppy electronica, the majority of the crowd love them and get dancing to the beat — although I felt after a few songs it all seemed to sound very similar. When Bring Me The Horizon take to the stage the chaos commences, girls are all over the front, sitting on stage and in any way possible trying to grab Ollie Sykes. Guys are screaming their hearts out and both are crowd surfing from start to finish with security just throwing them back into the crowd. They only play about an hour’s set due to Mr Sykes’s sore throat, which is quite disappointing but can’t be helped. Playing some new tracks off their newly released album, fans already know the words off by heart and many get the chance to scream along as he’s in no way afraid to confront the crowd and jump in, though in a venue like this you have no option when they’re all over the stage. I recommend you see these guys when you can. NADINE B
Day In Decay
This metal five-piece hail from the sleepy villages of Monmouthshire, but nothing was sleepy about their set on a cold winter night. They started the gig in raucous fashion with hardcore guitar riffs and vocals that kickstarted the crowd into metal heaven. They list bands like Lamb Of God and Pantera as their influences, and this is obvious in their sound. Day In Decay’s first song was the hardcore, thrash metal sound of Love Turns To Hate and continued with this vibe throughout the set. The band describe themselves as “catchy metal”, and this is quite true on songs like Apocalypse. The band certainly enjoy playing live and this is clear to see. They don’t take themselves too seriously and admit they like to add a touch of comedy to their performance, which is noted in the band’s favourite song Acid Lies. The aggressive drumbeats by Mike dominate the song, and the haunting riffs made by rhythm guitarist Jack make the song an instant hit with the crowd. Day In Decay are not your stereotypical metal band, as their set had a mixture of funk, death and rap metal sound to it. DID have a solid future ahead of them. VICTORIA TURNER
Playing on the widescreen picture style stage was Video Nasties, which surprised me as I was expecting to see Swanton Bombs. Heddwyn Davies, lead singer of Threatmantics, later confirmed that the trio of bands revolved the set order and times on every stage of their UK tour to keep things fresh. London fivepiece Video Nasties are a young band with an eclectic mix of sounds, seemingly packing several different styles of rock into a single set. Theirs tonight was a blend of sometimes punkyscreamy, sometimes tender vocals, energetic guitar riffs, adolescent angst with more than a slight echo of the Eighties and Nineties. The passion was strong and potential plenty, and considering these guys are only in their first year of existence, I think good things can be expected after some fine-tuning. Headliners of the night, ever quirky Threatmantics lived up to their individual style and eccentric sound, interspersed with brief banter which Cardiffbased Heddwyn confessed he’d been head scratching over beforehand. Haunting broken vocals accompanied the punchy, crunchy combination of screechy violin scrapes with steady drum beats and spiky guitar riffs which felt like a walk in the winding woods of indie-folk, drawing you deeper and deeper in without any breadcrumbs to lead you back. I was lost in the Threatmantics’ slightly crazy yet succinct sound, and didn’t want to find my way out! If you get a chance to see this band live I suggest you go! LISA DERRICK
Riverside Tavern, Newport Barfly, Cardiff
Barfly, Cardiff On a wet winter night, a couple hundred kids packed into the Barfly to see one of the most exciting local bands this year. Kicking off the proceedings were Bringers Of Pestilence, breaking everyone into a frenzy with their frantic metal. Working Class Hero were up next, and with a bit of female-fronted pop-punk, the entire crowd got involved with the dancing. Then Death Of An Icon burst onto the stage after accepting the slot only three hours previous, and played a blindingly fantastic set including crowd favourites Justice and Ho Monkey. So when Go-X invaded the stage with all the power and ferocity of a nuclear blast in a power plant, they immediately got the entire crowd dancing like loons and screaming as lead singer, Josh, started throwing free t-shirts and glow sticks into the crowd. After an amazing set, Go-X left the crowd thunderstruck and wanting more. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these guys live, you should, because it’ll be a night you’ll never forget. LIAM PADFIELD
In Case Of Fire
Cardiff Uni and a threesome of Irish boys called In Case Of Fire crack open a powder keg and throw a musical grenade at the audience as they power through their passionately performed set list. We were viewing a band on the verge of breaking through that imaginary wall to success having recently signed to Search & Destroy, the new recording label attached to Raw Power management (home of Funeral For A Friend, Fightstar, Bullet For My Valentine and Gallows). During the performance we got a tour de force rendition of This Time We Stand and a fist pumping second single The Cleansing with its straight-to-the-jugular-style rock/pop cross, a Radio 1 daytime rocket for those tired DJs whose conversation can’t get past last night’s episode of Big Brother and are feed up playing X-Factor winning drivel. You may be forgiven in thinking not another rock band, and yes the influences are there from Funeral, who they recently toured with, to U2 (but what Irish band wouldn’t cite the megastars as an influence), but they still have that unique edge. An edge that will shine through as their career surely progresses. GG
The Automatic Sin City, Swansea
What a dilemma — stay in nursing my cold or go see The Automatic? The Automatic won, of course, curing my stinker of a cold along the way. Result! London band Kinkane kicked off the night in the only way they know how — with bundles of energy and pouting attitude. This quadruple dose of eye candy have tunes funkier than Maroon 5 and a sound sharper than Johnny Depp’s cheekbones. Next up, and currently being thrust this way and that, was Nick Harrison who appears to be the next big thing. Emitting from Nick and fellow bandmates, Toby and Naz, are quirky, reggae, knocking-on-ska’s-door beats, with both genres vying outrageously for the most attention. Cheeky grinning glances exchanged between Toby and Naz reveal every gig played is an escalating novelty, and that they’re loving every single minute of it. So
on to headliners, electro-rock band The Automatic, who have altered dramatically in recent months. But is it for the better? Indeed, the addition of yourcodenameis:milo’s front man, Paul Mullen, has propelled them to the vanguard of radio play again, with the boisterous first single off the new album, Steve McQueen, reaping further recognition. But that’s the thing. Steve McQueen and hit single Monster seem to be the only songs people know. It’s not that their other material isn’t good, it just isn’t good enough for the harsh, picky world of radio. Despite such gripes, The Automatic’s set is tight with songs off sophomore album This Is A Fix flaunting punchier, biting electronic elements, undoubtedly spawned by Mullen. Managing to retain such a style in the Usher cover, Love In This Club, confirms The Automatic have found their sound and they’re sticking to it. And if you don’t like it? Tough. BECCA
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
We were going away for a well-earned break. Issue 4 of PLUGGED IN was on the shelves with the mighty Midasuno on the front cover, along with the free covermounted CD. It was while we were away the text came through — Midasuno had decided to call it a day after 10 years. This was the end of an era of anarchic punk played in true quality and form. Their decade in the rain. But Scott Andrews wasn’t going to give up that easy. No way! They’ll have to drag him kickin’ and sreamin’ and spitting venom to his own funeral. Enter Exit International, a duel of a group between two bass guitars gripped together by some almighty drumming, with Scott’s infectious voice screaming over the top. Yes he was back with some new friends, and though I was expecting to see Midasuno 2 what we actually got was a typhoon of rhythm and beat-led musical whirlwind experience that barely lasted 15 minutes. But boy what a 15 minutes, packing in seven songs including Hex Lover (which may be released as a first single), a cover of The Birthday Party’s Release The Bats and ending with a mammoth feedback fest of immense proportions on Black Heat. This was only their second live performance, but watch this band grow because they will and the fan base may even forget Midasuno existed. Check out their myspace site to hear two of the other songs they played, Peccadillo and the amazingly titled Myskullisahauntedhouse. Fantastic! DW
Cardiff University Okay, you can ignore the cliched poses, the rock-god guitar-style and the American show antics, but there is one thing you can’t ignore (and I’m not talking about lead guitarist Austin Diaz’s big hair) it’s that Black Tide are exceptionally good. Brought up in Miami — where, it seems, they spent their teen years pillaging their parents’ rock records collections — they give a performance worthy of far more established groups like Kiss or Aerosmith, playing well beyond their young ages. An electrifying rendition of their recent single Shout, reviewed by Gary Bolsom in Issue 5, proved to me how correct he was in saying “squealing guitar solos playing in 9ths brings 80s metal into the present day”. The crowd loved them which wasn’t surprising as Black Tide gave them everything they wanted. Check out their album Light From Above. DW
TJF Charity Gig TJ’s, Newport
I Call Shot Gun, a five-piece rock band from the Rhymney Valley, were the opening act for The Joshua Foundation (TJF) gig in TJ’s, and their style of dirty rock ’n’ roll music definitely got the crowd excited. Their set began with the raucous track On My Signal, a rocky number which was a fan favourite. Playing hard rock songs with aggressive vocals by Lloyd and hard hitting drum beats by Jim Bob, these guys are hard, fast and bitter sweet. Tiger Please are a band that prove you don’t have to be pretentious or scream your way through a set to get noticed. This band were understated brilliance and I thought the style of music was a refreshing change to today’s music scene. The Pontypridd five-some have an indie/rock vibe to their music and influences like Kings of Leon to Sigur Ros seep through their songs to create their diverse sound. Tiger Please are a band to look out for in the very near future and are a very talented bunch of musicians (see our Rising Talent piece on the guys on page 4). The 5150s are a pop punk band, made up of three girls and two guys who play the guitars. Their first song Camera Shy was a pop song with a rock edge to it, and lead vocals from Nan definitely gave the song a soft rock vibe. They are an upbeat, happy band who clearly enjoy being on stage together. With songs like Nightmare and All Or Nothing they provide their own version of inoffensive, happy rock in a set was upbeat and had a distinctly fun vibe. Disturbed were fun and energetic the moment they hit the stage. As headliners of the gig they didn’t fail to disappoint. A ska/punk band from Caerphilly, with a fun, upbeat dance vibe to them. Songs like Horizon and Back To Suburbia ,which also had a fantastic brass section to it, got the crowd dancing along. I really liked these guys and it was a welcome change to hear some ska/punk music whose fast tempo guitar riffs made me want to start dancing to all their songs. VICTORIA TURNER.
You Me @ Six Cardiff University
You Me @ Six were one band I was excited to see. A lot has been made of them being the UK’s new hot shots in the rock scene — quite a tag-line to live up to! The more press I read the more anticipation built up, the whole work ethos to the band is very DIY, something I love in bands. Their first support was from a five-piece Farewell, travelling all the way from North Carolina, USA. Their music is distinctly American which fits in with the whole emo-pop-rock sound. Very upbeat, very catchy and certainly very entertaining, perfect for dancing and lifting you up from a bad day. The guys put in a fantastic performance which engaged the entire audience. Worth checking out, especially the song Eighty-Eights which was the standout track for the night. Main support came from New Jersey boys Houston Calls who was Farwell with extra bite. Yet again I found my foot tapping and body moving to the music and the crowd were very responsive. HC gave another energetic performance and really pumped the crowd up, this was a more mature performance from a band who had clearly been going for some time. So onto the headliners — YM@6 took to the stage with masses of screams, particularly for front man Josh. These boys were so young I was wondering whether or not they could handle the expectation thrust upon their shoulders, but as soon as they started playing, rip roaring through their arsenal of fantastic songs, the band lived up to the hype. You could spot the influences of Paramore and Fall Out Boy, however they’re not some British band trying to sound American — no, like Kids In Glass Houses they add a unique British twist to the sound which makes it sound original. With songs like Save It For The Bedroom, which is melodic and sweet, and Jealous Minds Think Alike, which was the undoubtedly the highlight of the set with its roaring guitar parts, catchy chorus, they proved their status as headliners. RICHARD SAMUEL
Set In Motion TJ’s, Newport
Punk rock band Kill The Kids First were an excellent opening act for the night, playing catchy numbers that got the audience chanting the words to the choruses of songs like The Town Is Dead and set ender Stay In The Bright Light. I thoroughly enjoyed this lot — their set was fun filled and fast paced, and it’s nice to see a band who seemed to be having fun throughout the whole set. Stranger In Moscow, a four-piece indie rock band from Guildford, impressed me from the moment they hit the stage. They have a distinct sound with a mix of indie, rock, dance and electric vibe, and captured the audience’s attention with their unusual musical style. If they haven’t conquered the charts in the next two years I’ll be very surprised. Caesars Rome began their set with an energetic, fist pumping rock sound, launching into their first song Vegas & Its Night Life. Throughout the set their songs all had a rocky sound with good beats and catchy guitar riffs, and reminded me of a young Jimmy Eat World with their punk rock vibe. A fantastic live act. The Story So Far were a breath of fresh air as it’d been a
while since I’d heard a pop punk band. The main word to describe this Valley’s based band is FUN, as these five lads seemed to be having the time of their lives on stage and it was great to see a band who don’t take themselves too seriously. Comparable to the likes of Busted and Mcfly, as the music styles are so similar, I thought this band was fantastic and with their infectious sound it was impossible not to find yourself dancing around to their songs. Definitely a band to watch out for in the near future. Headliners Set In Motion put on a fantastic display of heavy, funky upbeat rock music. The band had an electric presence on stage, spurred on by the fans in attendance as they were playing in front of a home crowd. The boys thrive on audience participation on their songs, in particular Dirtiest Player In The Game which had the audience split into two and at the chorus they all ran together to form a massive mosh pit — fun to watch! They ended the adrenaline-fuelled set with the rock, metal track Congratulations You’re Still Alive. I found them exciting and liked their fun, rock sound and I’m sure it won’t be the last we hear of this lot. VICTORIA TURNER
Innerpartysystem Barfly, Cardiff
The club was packed. When I arrived My Passion were bouncing around the stage playing vibrant and approachable, dancable rock including their single Thanks For Nothing. Enjoyable enough to go places. Despite technical problems that saw the drummer shouting into the wedges, Middle Class Rut gave a performance of real gusto. Just a guitar player and a drummer they produced a sound that was big and diverse and hinted towards Hawkwind. Of course this was an Innerpartysystem event, with a major emphasis on “party” striking a very high level from the start. Dance grooves and electro beats played with the passion of punk rock, they pumped out tracks from their self titled debut album including the two infectious singles Die Tonight, Live Forever and Don’t Stop. Hot, sweaty with a light show to match anything at the CIA they dominated and controlled the audience hypnotising them like a cobra does its prey. This was more than a Friday night disco — this was rock, techno, indie, punk thrown onto one massive rollercoaster ride of music. Tonight Innerpartysystem were bigger and expanding beyond the Barfly walls. DW
Viva Machine Barfly, Cardiff
It’d been a while since I’d seen one of my favourite Welsh bands, so I was looking forward to watching them perform with a new member in charge of some keys and live guitar to ensure Chris (vocals) can throw himself about just that little bit more. First up were Pontypridd boys Cuba Cuba, warming up the crowd with a tasty piece of synth backed indie rock, followed by Friends Electric delivering a fantastic set full of catchy lyrics that you’ll be humming for days. Autopilots were up next, a band I hadn’t heard much of before but they definitely blew me away with their great songs and catchy choruses that left me wanting more. But not for long as Viva Machine were coming on to the stage ready to perform a blistering set full of new songs, regular songs and a few songs that they hadn’t played in a very long while. Tonight was as great as any other time I’ve seen this band live and they have become even more charismatic and energetic over time. Viva Machine are one of Wales’s best bands at the moment and it’s definitely worth going to see them as you will be treated to a night that you won’t soon forget. LIAM PADFIELD
Thea Gilmore The Point, Cardiff
Tonight the audience at The Point was in one of those listening moods with more women than men drinking pints and wearing t-shirts emblazoned with alcohol promotions. I hope they were getting a good advertising rate. The stage was simple — three mics with all the guitar cases thrown haphazardly at the back. I gleaned that this was going to be a gig about the music, nothing pretentious or showy then. To prove me wrong a smoke machine started up as Thea Gilmore strolled onto the stage and began to sing. Really sing. The lady has one of those heavenly voices that sends shivers down your spine. Joined by two further guitar players they performed songs that lapped at you like sea on a distant shore. Then they played Avalanche, one of the most heart-wrenching tear-jerking sublime songs I’ve ever heard played live in a long time. Hauntingly poetic, with just backing vocals and violin for accompaniment, you could hear a pin drop. The audience was silent, nobody spoke, picked up a glass to drink or walked around, as if nobody dare disturb this beautiful melancholic tune — and that included me scribbling on my note pad. This was as close to perfect as you could get. You could say that the world doesn’t need another lady singer/ songwriter with her acoustic guitar. They may be right, for after tonight there only seemed room for Thea Gilmore. GG
In its second year, Swn provided us with an amazing line up of tour de force Welsh artists who are breaking into the music scene alongside some of the most exciting bands from outside our borders. A real eclectic mix, playing over three nights and 14 venues. PLUGGED IN was there en masse FRIDAY
The intimate performance by Young Marble Giants at Swn 08 was a not-to-be-missed event. The Cardiff low-fi legends played in the wood-panelled Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre of Cardiff Museum, more used to visiting professors than post-punk. Formed in Cardiff in the late 1970s, YMG were an oddity — always appearing out of place and time. Playing their intelligent brand of bedsit electronica, at times almost apologetically, to the bondagetrousered, weekend punks that frequented the beat-up sofas in Grassroots Café in Charles Street. Now looking back, they seem completely in keeping with that shabby postindustrial Cardiff. Would they still be relevant in 2008? I needn’t have worried. Joined by younger Moxham brother Andrew on drums (they were originally a three-piece plus drum machine), Stuart and Phil Moxham together with singer Alison Statton, ran through their back catalogue. Highlights for me were The Man Amplifier, Music For Evenings and Brand New Life. They sounded crisp and more selfassured than I remember. The uncluttered delivery allowed the songs to speak for themselves, each a thing of beauty. And best of all they seemed to be enjoying themselves. At one point another Moxham, Richard, appeared from the crowd, and was given credit for the record collection that inspired the band. YMG have, over the years, been name-checked by everyone from Kurt Cobain to Gruff Rhys. If you’ve not yet been converted, their next UK gig is at All Tomorrow’s Parties at Butlins in Minehead in May 2009. If you can’t wait until then, their classic album Colossal Youth has been re-released on Domino Records, featuring extra single and EP tracks and rarities. MARV Fuzz Birds (at Buffalo Bar) are a female-fronted Welsh-language band and tonight played some light acoustic rock. They have good voices but I felt the songs had no spark to them, which is a shame. Cymbient are a happy bunch of creative friends who got together for a laugh. With their drummer as the main vocalist this is something you don’t often see, especially as he sang chilled-out numbers with a soft voice instead of the usual screaming down the mic music we get. Keeping the mood mellow, the music of Jen Jeniro brought to mind driving down a highway with the top of the car down. Some quirky riffs and a slight country essence make a few songs feel like they should be the backing tracks in a movie — nice. Next up are Chewlips, a three-piece techno band fronted by an overly welcoming lady who shouted to the people at the back to move to the front, and they do! They crank out some good beats with the guitarist and bassist switching from keyboards every few songs, finally getting the
crowd moving. Stray Borders play long, eerie and mostly instrumental songs, with some nifty rock vocals thrown in that create an atmosphere in which you don’t want to move or make a sound until they’re done playing their unique collections of songs. Max Tundra looks completely in his own world while playing his one-man electronica highly pitched mad crusade of a show. Using samples from well-known songs, he takes them and well... with his voice, clearly makes them his own beauties. This guy will be demanded back in town before you know it. Johnny Foreigner climb on stage to end the night here, with kicking tunes that have a funky, indie, punk rock feel — which may sound a bit of a mix but it works well for them. This three-piece sing and scream and prance around a bit like the Subways, playing a lot of new material that gets the fans — old and new — joining in with their clapping sessions. NADINE B The Chapman Family (at Tommy’s Bar) in all their menacing glory, were… captivating. Yes, captivating. I’ll give them that. One of the most bizarre gigs I’ve been to, their descent from quiet, buttoned-up playing to a guitar smashing frenzy was oddly… captivating. At one point, the bassist stamped on his guitar — completely KO’ing it — then he walked off stage with his bandmates, leaving everyone in deaf confusion, and then walked back on stage mouthing “F***” to himself! Very rock ’n’ roll. Indeed. MARIA MURPHY The Gallops! (at Kaz Bar) garnered riotous rhythms that tasted of a Jaz Coleman-free Killing Joke. Boisterous beats rocked the room and a young Wrexham quartet added another bow to the ever-glistening Welsh music scene. This dance with the devil drive is both intense and immense! ROB JONES When Volcano! erupted (at Clwb Ifor Bach) your eardrums were split with the cacophony of noise they spewed out, seeming like each member of the three-man band were playing a different song. Somehow it then gelled together and although “chorus, verse, chorus” just wasn’t their thing they were the most exciting and original act I watched over the three days. Rolo Tomassi broke wind on Swn as Eva Spence (vocals) screamed over jarring guitars and drums as if she was being impaled on a metal spear. Complicated rhythms that very rarely allowed the true nature of the musicians’ ability to shine through made the performance difficult to comprehend. Very exhaustive. I escaped upstairs to catch Clinic who were billed as being “weirdness all round”. Yes they did wear surgical masks on stage but were in fact the most accessible group of the
night at the Welsh Club. A strong song set from a band that have been honing themselves for years to give us a show of immense scale. DW
Attack & Defend (at Buffalo Bar) get off to a mischievous start by the singer nicely cracking a hole into the stage and breaking his guitar within the first song, but they make up for it with their quirky attitude and fine rock set that puts everyone in a good mood. Fredrick Stanley Star look like a bunch of artistic hippy students and sound indie folk-style rock. You need a very acquired taste to listen to them, but then again they are just a bunch of friends on stage having some fun, happy at what their doing and the crowd seem to dig them too. When the next act came on I had to rub my eyes to check I wasn’t dreaming, but still standing there were Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silence. It looked like a Cluedo party on stage, the keyboardist with a wolf mask on, a cosinger that reminds you of a drag queen from some children’s theatrical show, but not the nice kind, a main singer prancing around off stage who’s dressed with blood splattered over him and a guitarist who’s near enough naked bar the tights and ripped tank top. Yet again the crowd really seem to enjoy their strange alternative music and performance, either that or they’re too scared to move! The little bundle of rock-tastic fun called Flashguns may look a lot younger than many of the bands at the festival but have a well-produced quirky kink to their indie sound, like nu-rave summer times. They come off friendly to the crowd who, of course, take to them with arms wide open and even start dancing. NADINE B SJ Esau (at Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre) performed the most bizarre one-man show ever. Coming over as a technophile, he built up his songs by using loops and repeats of guitar strums and vocal noises which he then played along with and sang over. Occasionally hitting a broken cymbal with the end of his guitar. Basically a modern day one-man band. Brilliantly watchable. Das Wanderlust whose vocalist Laura Simmons said, “This is posh, we’re more used to sticky floors” before screaming and singing through an energetic set while slamming away on her keyboard had rings of Kate Nash about her. Though I think these guys would win in a fight, they produced what I deemed to call sweet punk. Euros Childs, the front man of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, was the headlining performer and his set was the highlight of the festival for me. With GZM he took Welsh language music to the masses and the late great John Peel, whose show I rarely missed, became a great fan. Even the audience was auspicious with Hugh Stephens and Gruff
PICTURE BOOKS IN WINTER
FUTURE OF THE LEFT
PULLED APART BY HORSES
CLINIC ROLO TOMASSI
RICHARD JAMES VOLCANO!
EUROS CHILDS SKATAR THE SCHOOL
RIGHT HAND LEFT HAND FRIENDS ELECTRIC
FUTURE OF THE LEFT
AGASKODO TELIVEREK Rhys (Super Furry Animals) sat amongst us. He played his poppy folk tunes simply with no grandness about the performance looking like a nervous schoolboy with an unassuming stage presence, rarely acknowledging the people in front of him though he did apologise to everyone at one point for his appearance. “I should have sown up the hole in my jeans but I couldn’t be arsed.” Of course the music was sublime and even had hints of new country about it. Childs has pushed boundaries with his music and the taster he gave us that night was five star. DW The Last Republic (at Barfly) is a band with a good desire for indie music who sound close to most of the progressive indie genres but seem that little bit more genuine, and are gladly taken in by the crowd who are intently listening to their polished set. Broken Records keep up the traditional and serious approach with their mix of instruments that range from a classical bass to trumpets, and with striking vocals sound very intriguing. A non-UK act, Amazing Baby play their first Cardiff gig, bringing a different edge to the typical indie sound with their American funk. Their set gets people singing along and dancing to some spectacular guitar effects, making them seem like a much more modern version of Kasabian in my books. Expect to hear some good things from this band in the future. NADINE B
FUTURE OF THE LEFT
It’s 4pm on the final afternoon and on first act on is H Hawkline (at Buffalo Bar), a solo acoustic instrumentalist playing to a very chilled out crowd. He seems to look like he’s playing to no one but himself, as if he’s the only one in the room or in his own little world. As songs pass you get a sense you’re not sure whether he’s set himself an actual set list or playing it all as he goes along but it sounds good. Colorama are a two-piece consisting of a double bass player and an acoustic guitarist and well dressed may I add. The singer came over as a little quiet but that didn’t matter, the vibe couldn’t get more down to earth.... Another solo acoustic artist Pete Greenwood played with more mellow tone to his melodies and provided some down to earth short stories about him and his all important travel to get here. Next up is John Head (from Shack) who seems a little too shy to chat to the crowd, though isn’t afraid to show off his delicate voice — though I felt some songs were a little too plain in parts. NADINE B
DANANANANAYKROYD EUROS CHILDS
Total destruction commenced when Pulled Apart By Horses (at Kaz Bar) crashed through their set of pulsating screamo rock. Frenetically paced and dangerous they plunged into the audience to get up close and personal. DW Friends Electric (at the Barfly) are a band never to compromise their music — you get them or nothing. Their non-stop approach had people flummoxed at first as to when to clap and cheer, but with every foot tapping and head nodding by the end of the set it proved that FE had hit the right note. Picture Books In Winter were what I can only describe as anarchic punk-type rock with a violin and a lead singer who shed clothes during the performance as if they were holding him back. With a name like theirs you’d expect pretentious drivel, but no they gave a powerful performance. Hi energy punk from Tubelord was next, whose lead singer reminded me of Scott from Midasuno/Exit International — he could be his
blond brother! Their fast-paced action was not so much musical but more machine gun as if in a Rambo film, although on one point they quietened down to play a glockenspiel when the room fell silent in pure amazement. Very strong performance. Dananananaykroyd were an incredible high powered frenetic force with a brilliantly energetic live act and a good laugh as well, “We were supposed to sound check at 12.30 but we were still in bed!” They played as if everybody in the audience was part of the band introducing the world to their wall of cuddles (an alternative to the wall of death). A real show. DW Genod Droog (at The Point) were playing their “last ever show”, and although I had doubts that this was indeed their last ever show — only because there’s been a couple of them before! — I went to see for myself, because I’m actually a big fan. With their mischievous rapping and their novelty beats, the audience love the freshness and the Welshness of the music and when you really listen to them they actually play beautifully. So even if they were thinking of “shutting up shop” so to speak, this really shouldn’t be the closing down sale. Whenever I have anything to do with Goldie Lookin’ Chain, whether it’s listening to them, watching them, hearing about them or speaking to them, I go away with a smile on my face but needing an aspirin. And this gig was no exception. With a massive tent set up in the middle of the venue, the whole glorious thing just screamed madness! A mix of old and new tunes, they alternated between the Christmas novelty fun stuff and the fresh 90sinfluenced glory that is being brought to our doors in 2009. The audience, a mix of loyal fans with their trademark gold chains, and a lot of new bewildered but happy faces, were clearly ecstatic with the whole body-jumping shebang and left the venue at the end of the evening in delightfully high spirits. It’s A New Day ladies and gentlemen. MARIA MURPHY Richard James (at Dempsey’s), another former member of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, gave us renditions of his beautifully layered folk rock. More simplistic song styles than Euros Childs the previous evening but just as effective, he gave us a unique performance of tracks from The Seven Sleepers Den album. DW Right Hand, Left Hand (at Clwb Ifor Bach) are a two-man band who use loops to create a larger sound. They give you straight up rock songs once they get going and are breaking a mold with their take on live performance. I recently witnessed them again supporting Funeral For A Friend in Tenby. The School gave us a likeable performance of sweet indie pop, with lead singer Liz looking like a slightly nervous school girl. The well-crafted songs gave you a real feel-good factor about them and hinted heavily to Sandy Shaw’s 60s. The Icelandic band Skatar looked Nordic and sounded like you’d expect a Nordic band to sound. Forceful heavy rock to keep you warm at night played by real men. Suitable for head bangers everywhere they were good but not really original. Agaskodo Teliverek (which means rearing stallions in Hungarian) gave a performance of venom-spitting frantic rock with manic beats and wailing vocals from the then pregnant Hiroe Takei. The rest of the band were strangely clad in leopard skin romper suits and played wildly while she yelped and screamed a spike into your skull giving an amazingly watchable performance. Future Of The Left ended the festival with a
heavy and fully committed set. Exciting and raw you can see the love they have for live performance ripping through songs from their Curses album much to the joy of the audience. An excellent finale. DW
After Cardiff’s second Swn Festival, PLUGGED IN asked Huw Stephens, the man behind the music, what he thought of the event. PI: Do you believe Swn 08 was successful? HS: Yes. There was a wonderful feel to the weekend, a good vibe if you like. Having a highlighted weekend in the city with everyone coming out and checking out new music, making friends and having new experiences is a brilliant thing, and a lot of people did that. Music fans and those who work with music came to Cardiff to see what was on offer, and from across Wales and Cardiff people came to enjoy the music that’s on their doorstep, even though they might not have realised it until the weekend. New relationships were formed, the gigs were great and busy, and so we’re pleased with the weekend. PI: Are you considering repeating the festival in 2009? HS: Yes we are. John Rostron and I are making plans already, based on what we’ve learned. We didn’t get it spot on, and are learning all the time. We’re taking comments on board and thinking about how we can make it better. PI: From the bands I saw live, you put on quite a range of music styles. How do you go about choosing the bands you want to play? HS: The promoters involved, like Loose and Peppermint Patti, choose the bands. Me and John come up with a wish list based on the music we’re loving and think would fit into the festival spirit. Eclecticism is the name of the game, and we’re into introducing new and varied music to those who come to Swn. PI: How can Welsh bands that you see in the pages of PLUGGED IN get involved in this year’s festival? HS: Get in touch through the Swn myspace or facebook, or send an email via swnfest.com PI: Of all the bands that played this time, who did you personally not want to miss? HS: Young Marble Giants, Future Of The Left, Euros Childs, Legowelt, Little Comets, Truckers Of Husk, Dananananaykroyd, Golden Silvers, GLC, Derwyddon Dr Gonzo and Pix.
Killing For Company/Cutting The Beef Parc Hall, Cwmparc
As I arrived at Parc Hall, Sweet Bamboo graced the stage with his solo performance of mainly folk influenced songs with “sweet” definitely being the correct term for the music he then played. The solitary figure seemed a bit lonely, though his music gently introduced us to the night’s proceedings. Seeing the lead singer of Butterflies With Beards wearing an Oasis t-shirt pointed directly to one of the band’s strongest influences. Their songs were confident and catchy, heading towards that epic rock department, but their stage presence was rather static and needs to be worked on — the potential is there though, especially on songs like Tank. Of course you can count on Killing For Company to up the pace and give a standout performance. It puzzled me why they were not given top billing but that never gives one of PLUGGED IN’s favourite bands a reason not to give a first-class show. Included in the set were a few new songs like Former Mining Town, and which went down such a storm with the crowd it gives me faith in my belief that these guys will be big soon. Simply outstanding. Cutting The Beef had done themselves a slight dis-service being billed as headliners, because after KFC they took a little while to get into their set. But soon they pushed that to the side, cut down on the inane chatter and gave us some good old boisterous rock. Big anthems fuelled by heroic guitar playing brilliantly performed showed that they really did have something great to offer. Excellent stuff. DW
CDs, EPs Downloads & Demos Jugganote The Hold Up (mini-album) www.jugganote.com An excitingly thumping and powerful six tracks from this Linkin Park influenced outfit. Starting with the excellent opener Real To Keep with its pounding base line, the reggae feel of Audio Sports to the anarchic anthem Burn It Down. You’ll soon need Jugganote driving a truck full of rock through your life.
The Answer Everyday Demons (album) www.myspace.com/theanswerrock High falsetto vocals introduce you to this Whitesnake/AC DC influenced rock from The Answer. Everything you’d expect is there. Great guitars, pumping anthem riffs with strong vocals — but is it new? Who cares, these Irish boys are going places fast with this excellent rock. Where’s my air guitar!
Viva Machine Robot Bodyrox (single) www.myspace.com/vivamachine From the first note to the last, this song packs a mighty punch of pure pop/rock that we’ve come to expect from the masterful Viva Machine. Strong and infectiously unique this track has been a tour de force on the Welsh live scene and transfers brilliantly to the recorded track. Just superb.
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Cartilag Jah No Dead (EP) Boncshafft Records The intro to Track One (yep that’s its name) leads you into a false sense of security before bashing your head to a pulp on the walls of your prison cell. Raw and terrifying heavy rock from North Wales that transcends any language barriers, this is pulsating with such energy that it becomes as scary as a flesh eating zombie. Get ready to have your insides ripped out! 38 PLUGGED IN 46 PLUGGED IN
Chris Summerill One By One (album) Summertime Records Summerill’s joy for life is infectious. Vibrantly uplifting this set of songs is created with a built-in feel-good factor for everyone to happily join in and forget your worries to. No wonder he did a Johnny Cash and went to Bridgend’s Parc Prison for a bit of time inside to play for the youth offender’s unit — after his show they must’ve been floating back to their cells for Christmas! Chris and his music are living proof that if you believe in a positive you can make the sun shine forever. Quite excellent.
Killing For Company (four-track demo) www.myspace.com/ kfcband From the melodic rock opener Over to the emotive Former Mining Town, KFC ease you through a beautifully creative set of perfect rock/pop songs. Anthems of status with pure heartfelt emotion sung and played to perfection, you can’t fault this high standard of music in any way. The four tracks on this demo may just be door openers but the stadium gates await. Just brilliant.
Sibrydion Campfire Classics (album) www.myspace.com/sibrydion With a first track that sounds like the opening of a spaghetti Western, Sibrydion introduce us to their third album and their first in the English language — and it’s delightfully diverse throughout and packed to the hilt with musical imagery. Their talent is boundless and doesn’t fit into any known category other than the one marked “Sibrydion” — though the influence of that other uncategorisable musician Gruff Rhys is present at times, which isn’t surprising as the band are friendly with the Super Fury maestro. (Mei, the multi-talented lead singer, also plays guitar with Y Peth.) Campfire Classics has a clever interplay of music and lyrics, but isn’t ever pretentious or unapproachable — even showing a sense of humour. You can dance to it, sing along, even get emotional as it takes you through a variety of experiences during its 13-track progression. Quite superb and definitely highly recommended.
BenSem Western Lights (album) www.bensem.com Let’s make no bones about this — buy this album. Now I’ll tell you why. From the moment you pick up the CD it speaks quality, and when you play it and you’re not let down. From Craig Semmens’ electrifying song writing to the brilliant band of musicians he works alongside, every note of every track has been considered and so every word breathes life. This is popular guitar music in its truest form, but don’t get me wrong, it ain’t lightweight or even too heavy — it is perfectly balanced, controlled and emotive. PLUGGED IN gave you a taster with Issue 4’s covermounted compilation CD opening with the exceptional Sunshine, but in no way were we prepared for what we have had delivered to us now. Pontypridd has given the world many stars including LostProphets and Sir Tom Jones, but the world better be prepared because we have another world-class act in the making. BenSem have produced this album off their own back, and it takes a lot of belief in yourself to do that. Well that belief is just about to become a completely new worldwide religion. Exceptional! Day In Decay Blind Hatred (EP) www.myspace.com/dayindecay Saying they play heavy rock be sure you’ve been warned as this has the weight of Snowdon falling on you. This is as dark and low as you can get, as these four tracks growl at you then rip you to shreds like a pack of howling wolves. With strong heavy riffs and manic drumming, it could be a soundtrack for a horror movie — plenty of blood and gore awaits.
Y Diwygiad Hymn 808 (album) Dockrad Records If you actually believe that rap is something that belongs in New York and should never leave then you need to listening to Y Diwygiad (The Reformation). This album of multilingual rap and electronica is an amazing breath of pure fresh air. It’s fusion of music that even has hints towards the sounds of Bollywood keeps you listening as it flips back and forth, entertaining you all the time. Never monotonous as many rap artists are accused of the duo of Mr Phormula and 9Tonne keep you interested and active till the very last bar. This is not like any other Welsh album because its influences are worldwide, but as contradictory as the music on it, it’s so very Welsh. Truly unique. Counter Clockwork (3 track demo) www.myspace.com/counterclockworkuk High-powered heavy rock from CC, opening with Spirit Of Sin which starts with a menacing bass line before kicking in with some well-crafted arrangements and growled vocals. The pace quickens for the next two tracks that deliver great attitude. Great demo!
Morrissey I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris (single) Decca NME’s favourite singer, who has recently thrown himself back into the arms of controversy, delivers us with a typical slice of mournful angst that only Morrissey can achieve. Unfortunately this song never really creates the tensions or even pretensions of old, and feels more like a b-side — though you still get a simple straightforward, effective song. Still, Morrissey is a God and whether you love him or hate him I’ll always throw my arms around him. He spoke for a nation of bedroom politicians and gave them courage in self belief. Thyrd Eye Say Something (single) www.myspace.com/thyrdeye Reminiscent of a Bond theme Third Eye’s interplay between the male and female vocals creates a beautiful tension of two elements that is also played within the well-crafted music. A real yin/yang approach that shows us opposites do attract. I want more please — and soon!
send your CDs for review tO: PLUGGED IN magazine Haul Fryn Publishing HAUL FRYN Courthouse Street Pontypridd CF37 1JW
Lost In Thought (three-track ep) www.myspace.com/lithought Kicking off with a reflective piano intro on Blood Red Diamond, what you get is three songs of anthem-led melodic rock which has rings of Survivor. These beautifully arranged tracks could easily break these guys in America. In fact they could snap it in half.
Chris Cornell Part Of Me (single) Mosley Music/Interscope Records From his forth-coming album Scream the ex-Soundgarden/Audioslave and James Bond theme vocalist tunefully sings over this bumpy ride of a song of electro beats produced by hip-hop super producer Timbaland. Different road maybe, but full of great vibes and groves that keeps you on your toes and strutting to the dance floor. Life Death Prizes (two-track demo) www.myspace.com/ldpband More melodic than most, the first track Brain Baby Kick stretches the lead singer’s voice around the scales on this piece of vibrating rock, while the faster Naked Avenger pummels you to the ground with its more direct approach. A band to watch out for, they’ll be the ones dynamiting the walls of your local venue. Dangerous stuff! The Story So Far Lessons (four-track ep) www.myspace.com/tssf Sweet pop punk from the Cardiff boys who give you everything from great hook lines, guitar riffs that cut, and those all-important singalong choruses. Oh, and they have a lyrical sense of humour which, of course, is essential where these boys are heading — straight to the teenagers’ bedroom walls! You can’t fault them or their commercial aims — think of a popier Kids In Glass Houses if you can. It was Romesh Dodangoda, producer on these tracks, who told me recently to watch out for these boys. Guess what? Listening to this do-it-yourself outfit (they have no manager), he’s right.
Stray Borders Lost Your Map You Left Signs In Broken Line & Waves Of Ink (four-track ep) www.myspace.com/strayborders If you look past the award for the longest and most pretentious title in this issue you get something that is totally unique and individual. Gentle but bold Stray Borders build soundscapes of instrumental music that flows around the room and reflect a variety of moods. One of those hard to place bands they are both beautifully delicious and disturbingly playful, with well-crafted musicianship. Though I’m not sure of their commercial value and suffer identity lost because of that, I don’t think that they would really care. A modern take on progressive rock this band is on my list to see live. Bizarrely brilliant.
THE MUSIC MAGAZINE FOR WALES
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