June 06

Thursday 1st June

Handsome Family
St Georges, Bristol.


Hadn’t seen Brett and Rennie Sparks since they played the Bierkeller while promoting the last album three years ago so we were looking forward to seeing them in the intimate St George’s recital room. The audience was mainly made up of middle aged Bob Harris listeners and the acoustics of the former church which usually puts on choral recitals and classical music suited the couples understated and quiet style of haunting americana.

Be-suited Brett on guitar and looking more gothic than ever in a long black dress, Rennie on bass and melodica were ably accompanied by violinist, lap-steel and mandolin player Dave during their marathon two hour set with a  20 minute interval. Asking the soundman to take down the drums by 7% in the monitors, often hitting stray drum beats at the end of songs, Brett still seems to struggle with the Apple laptop that acts as their percussion accompaniment. That may be mixing the alcohol and medication that Rennie castigated him for as he sipped on his Fosters!

Mixing songs from the new album Last Days of Wonder with classics such as Weightless Again, So Much Wine, Down In The Ground, The Sad Milkman and the “first song we wrote together”) Arlene, The Handsome Family live experience is part musical part comedy stand-up. Rennie was on form, relating fascinating and amusing stories behind each of the songs such as the strange US phenomenon of crevasses opening up in peoples gardens in Bottomless Hole and telling us that all the insects from the surrounding area would be joining us soon! Ending the main set with So Long dedicated to all the animals that had passed away before them! and then I Know You Are There as the encore finale. Lets hope its not too long before  Brett and Rennie return to the west again.

Thursday 8th June

Blind River Scare
Uplands Tavern, Swansea.


Playing a gig on the hottest night of the year meant the liquid intake was high all around a packed and sticky Uplands Tavern. Blind River Scare certainly earned their keep by playing two 45 minute sets to the interested throng of drinkers, liggers and curious onlookers. Drummer Gem borrowed the house kit with hilarious consequences as various bits began to fall apart, literally. Just as Gem went to sing his first backing vocal, the mike stand slumped to the floor. Shortly before the interval, a cymbal went flying across the stage as it worked loose of its stand, soon followed by a floor tom kicked over in Keith Moon-style reaction. Then, half way through the second set, the bass pedal snapped leaving the rest of the band to continue while he went to the car to get another! Airing some old and new songs over the 90 minute set, the newer tunes show how the band and Tim’s song-writing have matured over the past 18 months with the more up-tempo numbers gaining the best reaction. Another enjoyable night in the company of the country-tinged popsters.   

Sunday 18th June

Cosmic Rough Riders, Wave Pictures
Barfly, Cardiff.


First time we’d seen Cardiff based trio Wave Pictures and what a revelation they were. Quirky jangly pop songs not a million miles away from Orange Juice (but with the Only Ones Peter Perrett on vocals). Frontman David Tattersall had a good rapport with the Barfly crowd asking if they wanted the one about penile disfunction or S&M?! Off-the-wall lyrics and good playing combined for an excellent 40 minute set. With 5 self released albums over a number of years there is plenty of material to be plundered by a major label. Could Cardiff have its own Jonathan Richmond & Modern Lovers for the noughties? Visit

We became suspicious when the Cosmics hit the stage as they didn’t look like the same people in the band that made 2000s rather good album Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine. It seems that not only have replaced the singer and The Byrds style 12-string guitars but also any decent songs. They came across as a pub-rock band playing turgid rock. At the end of the first song Lost in America someone in the crowd shouted “but this is F*cking Cardiff mate!!”. On announcing In Time as their last single another wag yelled “Lets hope so!”. Needless to say five songs was enough and we beat a hasty retreat for the door. Dreadful.


Wednesday 21st June

Jeremy Warmsley
Barfly, Cardiff.


Beginning the gig in fine style as just himself and guitar Jeremy transfixed the small Barfly crowd. From his lanky, geek, neo-Graham Coxon appearance you’d think he’d be happier in his bedroom than on stage, but this guy give us his all with every vocal is projected from the heart. By the third song Jeremy was joined by keyboard player Tom Rogerson for I Knew Her Face Was A Lie and by the fourth song (a rather limp reggae-driven tune), hippy drummer Matt Ingram had joined on stage and with his entry a bit of the magic of the intimacy disappeared. After ploughing through a messy (no pun intended) Dirty Blue Jeans the band redeemed themselves by top class versions of Modern Children and hard to find first single I Believe In The Way You Move. New single I Promise (a song of loyalty in the face of adversity) was delivered as a solo number with guitar. Final song of the night, Crane Flies, began well but lapsed too dangerously into Mike Oldfield noodling at the end for comfort.
Jeremy is obviously a highly talented chap with lots of interesting ideas and an unusual approach. His live performances vary from 6 piece band to duet and I’m not sure the delivery as trio was on the money at certain points tonight. Still, there’s plenty of potential for a major label to snap him out of the clutches of Transgressive Records if they are not careful.
As it took us an hour extra to get through the traffic while 60,000 middle-aged women made their way home from a Take That concert in the city centre I couldn’t help but wonder what they’d of made of this indie-king in the making...Could It Be Magic?!

Tuesday 26th June

Midlake, Fionn Regan, Blind River Scare
Barfly, Cardiff.


With an early start at the beginning of this strong bill, Blind River Scare gave the crowd an energetic jaunt through their original set. A racing speed version of set Wolf Man Jack gained a particularly large applause from the cool but impressed audience. Tim didn’t let the occassional howl of feedback from the loud PA put him off his stride and ending with the eponymous titled Blind River Scare, the band won over a number of new admirers in their over-too-quickly 30 minute slot. Visit: www.blindriverscare.co.uk 


Looking  like a cross between a young Dave Edmunds and Donovan, Dubliner Fionn Regan strolled onstage and by second song The Underwood Typewriter had mesmerised the Barfly crowd to virtual silence. With a voice somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Ryan Adams and a guitar plucking style Jose Gonzalez would be proud of, Fionn has a very bright future ahead of him. His debut CD The End of History is to be released on Bella Union in August and I guarantee to you now it will be hailed as a classic release of the year. Check out his website on:


Texan five piece Midlake led by Tim Smith began their tour at the packed and sweaty Barfly. Starting with Balloon Maker from their Flaming Lips-esque psychedelic debut album Bamnan and Silvercork, the opener was going well until one of the keyboards packed in. With this fixed the band began taking us on a trip through their epic latest album The Trials of Van Occupanther. With so much equipment on the stage it was physically difficult for the band to move about, but somehow they managed to swap instruments at various points in the proceedings. A weird film projection running behind them showing the band being chased through woods and in home made spaceships added to the surreal atmosphere their music created. During next single Young Bride a woman with saucers for eyes ran to the front of stage waving her hands around screaming “this is so good, so good, so good” as if possessed by a strange demon before being led away... Switching between the hallucigenic numbers from their debut with the more polished Country-rock meets Fleetwood Mac and Beach Boys  numbers from their latest offering kept the interest up. The close harmonies were spot on, with at times all five band members in unison. Highlights of the night included Roscoe, Bandits and a superb version of final song Head Home. The band seemed genuinely surprised at the warmth of their reception from one of the most enthusiastic crowds I’ve seen at Barfly all year. Catch them before their spaceship takes them to another planet... 

[Home] [Live Reviews] [Apr 09] [Feb 09] [Jan 09] [2008] [2007] [2006] [2005] [Single Reviews] [Album Reviews] [Photo Gallery] [Contact]