Monday, 9 March 2015

Memories of 2015's gigs 1-3

MrsRobster and I are trying to get out more now that the Sprogsters are old enough to be left alone for a few hours. Over the last two years we've been to more gigs than we'd been to over the previous 10 combined. So as an extension to my 'Memories of a thousand gigs' series, I thought I'd document our shows this year, for better or worse. So here's the first three of 2015. We have more lined up, but this isn't one of them...

#1: First Aid Kit
St. David's Hall, Cardiff - 15 January 2015
Support: Kimberly Anne

Last September, First Aid Kit took my breath away with their show in Bristol. This time around, as brilliantly wonderful as they were once again, the thrill was somewhat diluted. I guess seeing them play much the same set in a slightly inferior venue explains it a little. The audience seemed rather shy and subdued too for some reason. Not disappointing by any means, but I might wait a while before seeing them again.

I wrote a little piece about support act Kimberly Anne here.


#2: Future Of The Left
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - 31 January 2015
Support: The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, WaLL

This was a special one-off hometown show to support Independent Venue Week. Bristolian friends The St. Pierre Snake Invasion were asked along for the ride and went down a storm, while WaLL opened the show to far fewer people and made somewhat less of an impression.

Maybe because of the occasion, Future Of The Left played a lot of old songs, with only a few from their most recent two albums. Kept by Bees opened the set, Arming Eritrea, Manchasm and The Lord Hates A Coward were aired too.  They even ran through a 'cover' of No Covers by mclusky, the band singer Andrew Falcous and drummer Jack Eggleston were previously members of.

But a Future Of The Left show in Cardiff isn't complete without some great banter between band and fans. Following Falco telling an audience member he looked like Jeffrey Archer he was somewhat predictably asked: "Who's Jeffrey Archer?" to whit: "He's like Nigel Farage but not as good a writer."

"Fuck Nigel Farage," came another shout.

"Yes," replied Falco as quick as you like. "Fuck Nigel Farage, but not to the point where he enjoys it!"

And so it continued. "Fuck the Stone Roses."

“I’m concerned by your obsession with sexual violence.  ‘Sexual violence rarely solves anything,’ my mother always said."

At the climax of a wonderfully loud, noisy and riotous set, it all got even more noisy and riotous as the ritual dismantling of the drum kit unfolded. Fans joined the band onstage to take part in hitting various percussive items while feedback squealed and guitars fuzzed for longer than most of the songs in the set. Some lucky punter even had bassist Julia on his shoulders as she noodled along to the cacophony. 'Twas one of the most fun shows I've attended in the last few years.


#3: Royal Blood
Newport Centre - 3 March 2015
Support: Mini Mansions

The future of British rock: Royal Blood sold out their last tour in two minutes. This tour was bigger - more dates, larger venues - and sold out within an hour. It seems everyone wants a piece of Royal Blood, and why not? Loud, noisy guitar music is always welcome in my neck of the woods, so when a band like Royal Blood comes to Newport, it's a no brainer really.

MrsRobster perfectly summed up support band Mini Mansions - a trio from LA - with just two choice phrases. Of their look: "They look like they're all in different bands;"[1] and on their sound: "They remind me of old dirty dishwater." Enough said.

Once we'd moved away from the really annoying woman in front of us who seemed to want to film the entire night on her mobile phone in 2-minute sequences, I tried to enjoy Royal Blood. I really did try. But they just weren't doing it for me. Don't get me wrong, they were tight, they played well and they sounded great. But that's the problem for me - they just sounded too good. It was all a little predictable, it sounded pretty much exactly like the CD. I could have listened to it at home and got as much out of it.

It also felt they were padding the set out somewhat. If a band has just one album to their name, there will always be limitations, but you can't fill things out with long pauses between songs and a pretty pointless cover of 20th Century Boy. The loud noisy jam at the very end of the set was the best part of the show for me, but otherwise I and MrsRobster came away pretty unmoved. Maybe part of it was the venue - maybe a little too big for them.

Alas, I fear the time to catch Royal Blood live has passed. Put them in a small space and they'd undoubtedly lift the roof off. Sadly, the future of British rock seem to have gotten too big too fast.


[1] The bassist was like a half-arsed Nicky Wire of the Manics with a tiny fraction of the charisma; the keyboard player could have been in any hipster electropop band like, say, Alt-J or Metronomy; and the stand-up drummer looked like he was in a bad Spandau Ballet tribute band playing tunes from their shite years!


  1. Congratulations to you and the Mrs. for being able to get out there again. Green with envy.

  2. I saw Royal Blood in October last year. It happened to be their first night of their European Tour. It was immense! They played a number of small venues before the chaos started. I saw them in The Academy Dublin. Tiny venue. I think they are doing 2 shows this week in The Olympia. It's been awhile since I've seen quality moshing and crowd surfing!!