Monday, 10 December 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #11

The Globe, Cardiff - 6 December 2018
Support: Mellt, Y Sybs

What a difference a year makes. This same week in 2017, we caught Estrons at Clwb Ifor Bach as their steady rise to fame continued, buoyed by the release of more singles to add to their canon. They were excellent and the small but excitable crowd lapped up their energy with relish. Twelve months on and suddenly that steady rise is gathering quite a bit of pace. The release of Estrons' debut album 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough' and the more-than-favourable reviews it has garnered has resulted in a growing reputation that now sees them on the precipice of hugeness. This sold-out show at the Welsh' capital's Globe was their last of the year - and what a way to go.

It was an all-Welsh bill, but sadly we missed openers Y Sybs, partly because parking around the venue is difficult at the best of times, but on a cold, wet, stormy December night it's nigh-on impossible. We were, however, in plenty of time to catch Mellt, another band whose reputation is swelling with every passing year. Their debut album 'Mae’n Hawdd Pan ti’n Ifanc' beating Estrons' to the shelves by a good few months. It won the National Eisteddfod's Welsh Language Album of the Year in the summer against some pretty decent opposition. So it's fair to say this Aberystwyth trio are setting tongues a-wagging. And to be fair, they have some good songs, but for me they don't quite have enough about them to wow me. There was just a little bit of something lacking, some energy maybe, some variety in their sound perhaps. They did win over some people though so I'm glad about that. I'll continue to watch out for them with interest and give the album another couple of listens before I decide if they're for me or not.

Estrons are definitely for me though. They're for MrsRobster too. Their album brings together 10 songs bristling with tension and all were aired tonight, along with a couple of non-album singles Cold Wash and Strobe Light. Tali Källström is probably the most striking female band leader out there right now, a formidable redhead with one of the best voices on offer. She bounded onstage in a brand new red dress (which, much to her chagrin, broke mid-gig) and the biggest grin I've seen all year. A solid hour-plus of blistering noise followed, during which Tali spilled her beer and asked if someone in the sudience would get her another (unsurprisingly, someone obliged). We also got a first - a 5-piece Estrons. A week before the show, bassist Steffan was called away to a family emergency, putting not just his appearance, but the whole show in doubt. A friend offered his services and learned the entire set, only for Steffan to return to the fold and play the gig. Said mate was brought out for two songs anyway while Steffan switched to rhythm guitar.

As for highlights, well there were plenty, but Killing Your Love, Cameras (which Tali wrote about her son) and, of course, Make A Man were probably the ones that pummeled me most of all. And Drop, another of my faves, closed the set, concluding with Tali making a running jump off the stage and into the crowd.

So not only have Estrons finally released the album I've craved for the past couple years, but they've improved as a live act no end - and they were pretty darned good before. I see in them what I saw in Wolf Alice just before they cracked the big time, only I think Estrons actually have a little something extra. Yes, this was a homecoming show of sorts (although they formed in Aberystwyth, they are now based in Cardiff and Tali was born here) so it's always going to be a bit more special, but Estrons seem to be more dynamic and uncompromising, with a frontwoman who is almost impossible to ignore. If Estrons aren't absolutely massive in a few years' time, then we might as well all give up and go home.

Please accept my apologies for the quality of the Estrons live tracks. They're both audience recordings and are the best I can find. Here's another audience-sourced clip from the same Manchester show as Drop.

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