Saturday, 8 August 2015

Memories of 2015 gigs 7 & 8

#7: Kizzy Crawford
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - 25th July 2015
Support: Ellie Makes Music, Natalie Holmes

This should have been one of our year's highlights. Instead - utter disappointment. This turned out to be the shortest gig I've ever been to. That's in 27 years of gig-going! OK, so tickets were a mere £8, and we didn't get to the venue until just before 9, which meant we missed the opening act. However, I had hoped to catch Ellie Makes Music, a teenage singer-songwriter from Cardiff with stacks of talent. But as we walked in, she was just starting her last song.

Fortunately, we didn't have to wait too long for Kizzy Crawford, and she'd brought a full band with her - electric guitar, bass/double-bass, keyboards and drums. She started with her most recent single Shout Out Loud, which you may know from the Wales tourism TV ads. Then she played a new song about being a pond skater. Kizzy's blend of folk, soul and jazz could tempt comparisons to someone like Amy Winehouse, but that would be totally unfair to one so young. Nonetheless, the girl has something very special, that's for certain. She spoke to the small audience in English and Welsh, played her new single Pili Pala (trans. Butterfly) and seemed to be on a roll. But then... it was all over. At 9:35! On a Saturday night! The crowd called for an encore. "We'd love to play an encore for you but we don't have time," Kizzy informed us. Six songs, less than half an hour and that was it?

MrsRobster said: "That could have been one of the best gigs we've ever been to, but I actually feel ripped off." Once again, she's spot on!


#8: Young Marble Giants
The Globe, Cardiff - 6th August 2015 (Grassroots Fundraiser)
Support: Headfall, The Irascibles, Guto Pryce (DJ set)

Grassroots is a project operating in Cardiff that for more than three decades has been helping young people develop their skills in the arts, be they musicians, budding record producers, sound technicians, film-makers, animators, etc. But above all, it's about supporting troubled and vulnerable youngsters and helping them to do something creative. Typically, Grassroots, like many projects  that actually do something useful in society, is under threat thanks to council budget cuts. The thing with Grassroots is it has many friends and supporters.

Thirty-odd years ago, a young band just starting out was helped by Grassroots providing them with rehearsal space. On Thursday night, that band played its first show in their home city for seven years at a benefit show for the charity. Young Marble Giants don't play much, but when they do, they're guaranteed a full venue. It was already filling up nicely by the time the first band arrived on stage, featuring a couple of familiar faces. The Irascibles feature Phil and Drew Moxham of YMG and play a brand of country-tinged garage rock that I imagine would have gone down well at somewhere like the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. sometime during the mid-80s.

I can't imagine anything by the second band of the evening going down well anywhere. Headfall were just awful. I suppose they would say they were an experimental art new wave kind of thing, like the Velvet Underground meets Wire, perhaps. The thing is, both those bands had a point. They sounded like they knew what they were doing and the music they made inspired generations of musicians after them. Headfall only inspired me to want to find the venue's electrical master switch and turn everything off. I've heard bands playing their first rehearsal that sounded more convincing. Avoid at all costs!

Young Marble Giants treated the audience to a nearly hour-long set of faves from their sadly small back catalogue interspersed with some anecdotes about Grassroots and the venue. Alison relayed how she saw her first ever film at the Globe back in the days it was a cinema, and the last ever film it hosted (An Officer And A Gentleman, apparently). She also owns one of the mirrors that graced the cinema's halls. Their beautifully sparse and eerie music resonated around this great little venue. Most of the set consisted of tracks from their only studio album 'Colossal Youth' (released 35 years ago, if you please!), with highlights (for me) being Credit In The Straight World, Choci Loni, Wurlitzer Jukebox and that wonderful album title track.

It was a delight to catch one of the most revered and influential Welsh bands of all time still able to spellbind their audience as if it were still 1980. The fact they only play once in a blue moon these days makes it even more of a privilege. Actually, wasn't there an actual blue moon this week? Point made.


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