Sunday, 15 December 2019

Memories of 2019 gigs #3-4

A couple of summer shows this week, including one where all the band members are well under the age of 40!

Goat Girl
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - Wednesday, 26th June 2019
Support: Pet Grotesque, Teddy Hunter

Goat Girl's fuzzy psych-fuelled debut album was one of 2018's highlights for me. It's the sort of sound I've really been into of late, so a Cardiff show was more than welcome. We arrived early enough to catch both support acts. Teddy Hunter describes herself as a "Cardiff-based sound artist working in electronic music and soundscapes" and her music as "looped, ethereal vocals and a gentle fluxus of synthesized melodies". Which all sounds very lovely and all that, but it's not really my thing or MrsRobster's. However, she was infinitely better than what came next.

Pet Grotesque. Right, where do we start? After Teddy Hunter left the stage, she and her crew cleared up and another lone roadie set up for the next act. Except it turns out said roadie was the next act. A tape started, some neo-soul type muzak came through the PA and the guy - barefooted on a rug - took the mic and sang. Sort of. And then came the 'dancing' with every move and postulation over-exaggerated to the point of parody. It reminded me of Eddie Murphy as Randy Watson in Coming To America. The audience didn't seem to know how to take him either - some looking quizzically in a "is he taking the piss" kind of way, others filming and taking photos, giving ironic-sounding cheers after each song. Undoubtedly one of the weirdest half-hours I've ever experienced. "Thanks very much Cardiff," he said at the culmination of his set. "I'll see you again... sooner than you think."

And it was. Goat Girl took to the stage with an extra member on keyboards - it was Pet Grotesque man! Yes, he's a touring member of Goat Girl too. It's a much better role. Goat Girl more than lived up to expectations. Most of said debut was aired (though sadly not Little Liar) along with a couple new ones. While the studio environment clearly suits their sound and allows them to explore some weird and wonderful effects, Goat Girl seem equally happy in the live setting. More raw, for sure, but excellent nonetheless. And let's face it - songs like The Man, Cracker Drool and Viper Fish would probably sound great if you hid all the band's instruments and gave them some tin cans and a stick instead.

With any luck there'll be some new stuff coming soon. Just as long as they don't go down a dodgy soul route inspired by their keyboard player.

Real lack of good sounding live footage out there, and this clip from their Glastonbury set doesn't really do them justice, but it is what it is.

Tramshed, Cardiff - Friday, 23rd August 2019
Support: Novacub

Like The Coral, I've been following Ash since their early days, yet still never seen them live. They are, also like The Coral, without a doubt one of the best singles bands of the past 20 years. Let's not forget they released an unbelievably brilliant compilation album in 2002 when the oldest band members were still only 25! They've continued in a similar vein ever since.

We arrived shortly after support band Novacub took to the stage. This lot have only released a handful of songs to date (at the time of writing) and feature two members of Bloc Party. First impressions suggest they could be worth keeping an eye on with pretty much every song they played being significantly better than everything on the last Bloc Party record. Mind you, that's not saying much...

Ash were touring in support of a box set of seven-inch singles documenting their a-sides between 1994 and 2004. So a hits-filled set was in order. Sure enough, they were all trotted out, one after the other - Goldfinger, Shining Light, Orpheus, Angel Interceptor - along with a smattering of songs from the most recent album, last year's 'Islands' - including Annabel, All That I Have Left and the searing, potty-mouthed Buzzkill.

Not for the first time, the Tramshed's sound struggled a bit, but in general Ash transcended the limitations of being a three-piece. The Tramshed was rammed, the gig originally having been scheduled for the tiny Globe, but moved due to demand. It proved to be a wise decision. There were almost minor earth tremors when Kung Fu and Girl From Mars were blasted out, but closing song Burn Baby Burn, perhaps predictably, blew the roof off.

The mix of ages in the audience suggests that Ash are still relevant, and let's face it, with songs of this quality, it's unlikely there will ever be a time when it's uncool to listen to them.

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