Mar 06

Wednesday 1st March

The Feeling, Lorraine
Barfly, Cardiff.


First up were 80s time-warp new romantic losers Lorraine with a lead singer who thought he was in Spandau Ballet, a keyboard player who thought he was in The Pet Shop Boys, a guitarist who had stolen his sound from the Cocteau Twins all playing with a gigantic reel-to-reel drum backing tape turning in the background while they recreated Duran Duran’s greatest hits. So bad it was embarrassing. Torture to anyone over 30, anyone under 30 seemed to love it. Grow up fast kids!

Then came The Feeling. With their second single Sewn just released the band were on the crest of a wave with a sold out Barfly show. Unfortunately a bunch of deaf students next to me (I assume they were deaf as they had to shout all the time) managed to make it nearly impossible to hear half the songs despite being told twice to shut up. What I did hear impressed. These guys are tighter live than any act I have seen in years and the songs are pure pop, even if they themselves admit to being “cheesy” you can’t knock well crafted  tunes. First single Fill My Little World was well received and tracks such as Never be Lonely, Strange and the slightly Darkness guitar tinged Love it When You Call from their forthcoming album Twelve Stops and Home sounded promising. Three part harmonies, Beatlesque songs with a modern twist and a hint of mid-70s US rock - definitely one to watch. 

Tuesday 21st March

The Secret Machines
Solus Club, University Union, Cardiff.


Fresh from supporting U2 and Oasis at stadium gigs the Secret Machines chose the disco in the middle of the University’s Union for their first ever trip to Wales. With no support band the band hit the stage of the half-full room to a stage of dry ice and a technicolour  lightshow to rival mid-period Pink Floyd! Not a million miles from the prog rockers themselves, they launched into Alone, Jealous & Stoned (none of which I was at the time stood among an even amount of students and South Wales more knowledgeable music aficionados). From thereonin it was a mix of songs from the new album Ten Silver Drops and 2004s classic Now Here Is Nowhere. Highlights included energetic versions of Road Leads to Where Its Led, Nowhere Again and new single Lightening Blue Eyes.

The US trio comprising of the Curtis brothers, Benjamin (guitar & vocals) and Brandon (vocals with keyboards and occasional 8-string bass) are ably backed by drummer Josh Garza who seems to have the largest bass drum in the world judging by the mighty thump each pedal beat thrust through the audience. With little banter and a heads-down approach to playing, they gave as powerful a performance any trio could muster. And with a volume level to match, they must have left sonic shockwaves reverberating around Cardiff long after the epic closing song First Wave Intact ended with guitars abandoned feeding back on stage. It can’t be long before the Secret Machines are no longer underground heroes but the understated rock stars they truly are.

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