Oct 05

Monday 3rd Oct

Richmond Fontaine, Amazing Pilots
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff.


Only managed to catch the last two songs by the Amazing Pilots. They struck us as an Irish version of Ambulance Ltd, but with weaker vocals...

This must be the third visit by Richmond Fontaine to Cardiff in as many years. The band looked very at home when they hit the stage and that might be because most of the packed audience seem to have migrated from Chapter’s Alt.Cardiff for the cold Monday night. Playing a selection of songs from their several albums, starting with White Line Fever (from their debut Safety) working through Black Road, the totally brilliant Barely Losing and Post to Wire (from the same titled album). Frontman Will thanked the crowd for keeping quiet when he donned an acoustic to play a selection (including tales of wife beating in The Janitor) from the excellent recent The Fitzgerald album. Will held friendly banter with the crowd throughout including demands to “make it louder”  which were politely declined. Winners Casino from the Winnemucca album made an appearance before the band rocked-out with Song for Dead Moon and at the end of a near 90 minute set, the guys played an extended guitar-noodle filled version of  Western Skyline to end the gig. Alt.Country? Americana? I don’t know what it is, but it sounds damned fine to me.. 


Tuesday 4th Oct

Malcolm Middleton, Absentee
Barfly, Cardiff.


Well the students are back then! Barfly was full of newly returned indie-kids and a few old blokes like us! The indie kids took the novel approach of sitting on the floor at the front of the stage making it nice and easy for short-arses like me to have a good view - keep that one up boys and girls!

Saw a few songs by Absentee. Very pro, but sounded like a copy of “Now Thats What I Call Indie 159” with songs reminding us of early House of Love and an image like Pulp (complete with 70s clothes and girl on keyboards with  whacky over-sized glasses!) they could be big if 1989 is hip again. Romeo from Magic Numbers used to play with them don’t you know...

Then to the main course. Arab Strap guitarist and king of the Indie Miserablist movement Malcolm Middleton and his three cohorts shambled onto the stage to play a  rousing set containing nearly every track from his latest and greatest album Into The Woods and a few from his debut 5:14 Fluoxytime Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine. The band were extremely tight and highlights included former soundsnew.com Single of the Month Loneliness Shines and brilliant self-depreciating encore Devil and the Angel. Sadly, the night was marred by a nutter in the crowd who looked as if thought Malcolm was playing at the Annual Dockers Disco and spent the evening shouting bizarre comments at the top of his voice, most memorably “you are smiling now but wait until the snows come”. Sometimes you just wonder if care in the community is working.

Sunday 9th Oct

The Believers, Blind River Scare
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.


Another edition of the enduring Alt.Cardiff moniker brings us Newport’s Blind River Scare supporting Nashville’s The Believers. If the audiences at these gigs get much older than those attending tonight they may wish to start considering getting it sponsored by Saga!

Blind River Scare played a 30 minute set of Keep Saying Sorry, Blind River Scare, Wolf Man Jack and Killing Time. The band get more confident with ever gig. New song Take Something for The Pain with its more traditional Country structure seemed to be particularly well received by the polite crowd. Visit www.blindriverscare.co.uk to see where else they are playing

Nashville based The Believers appeared as acoustic duo Cynthia Frazzini and Craig Aspen pushing album Crashyertown. Never having heard them before they came across as nice 'n' mellow country of the more traditional kind with first rate porch-style guitar playing. Although not feeling 100% the female half of the duo had a voice reminiscent of Emmylou Harris and some nice tales between songs and an impromptu break after a string broke warmed the crowd to the pair. Commenting on the week of Bob Dylan on TV the week they were over they played Subterranean Homesick Blues and a sincere version of Gram’s Love Hurts. Very pleasant but would like to see them with their band when they return next year

Saturday 15th Oct

The Editors, Be Your Own Pet, The Heights
Barfly, Cardiff.


MTV2’s Gonzo Tour was in town and it brought in many a star struck irregular giggoer to the tiny venue packed with TV Cameras and recording equipment. Two giant tour trucks wedged into the street behind the venue said it all.

First on were North Wales The Heights. With a  rocking sound, they could be Wrexham’s answer to the Kings of Leon! Taking time out to slag off The Editors didn’t endear them to the packed crowd.

Next up were American teenagers Be Your Own Pet. Seemingly not enjoying their first visit to Wales with lead singer Jemma saying “Birmingham last night was better, I want to go home, you lot just want a fanny show!” Someone ought to tell her that “fanny” means something different over here to the States! Ripping through a high octane punky set that only teenage exuberance can fuel, we liked them but others were not so impressed. Highlight was the brilliant single Damn, Damn Leash. An opportunity to buy the tour only 7” single Girls on TV made this writers night complete before the main act....

The Editors have hit the big time, selling out venues 10 times the size of Barfly and quite rightly so judging by the brilliant album The Back Room. Playing the majority of the album in a 35 minute set, it was obvious that lead singer Tom was not happy with the sound and the band played a workmanlike performance before walking off without an encore. Maybe Tom wanted to be back in the arms of TV and Radio celeb girlfriend Edith Bowman who he’d been been canoodling with earlier or the promise of more drinks in the company of Zane Lowe was too much temptation. I preferred it when there was only 20 of us watching them here in January, the TV and glitz seem to distract from the talent these guys obviously possess. Lets hope they aren’t taking the dark and moody tag they are being given too seriously. They seemed like nice blokes when we met them last time...

Thursday 20th Oct

The Deadstring Brothers, Lone Pine
The Chattery, Swansea.


First visit to The Chattery for soundsnew.com and what a civilised experience it was too! What other venue is by day a high street cafe and by night hosts the best alt.country in the corner while you sip on a beer or coffee. You can tuck into some nice food too...

First on were Lone Pine having travelled up the M4 from Cardiff to wow the local crowd with their blend of country and roots rock. Opening with Love is Everything and running through a set containing Hold On, Women They Leave and Do You Love Me. The faster numbers seem to get the best reaction and a rocking Good For Nothing going down a storm. Switching between Mandolin, Lap-Steel, Acoustic and Slide Guitar kept the audiences attention and judging by the applause it won’t be long before Lone Pine will be back. Visit www.lone-pine.co.uk to order a copy of their mini-album CD.

Between acts you would be forgiven for thinking you were a gatecrasher at a wedding as at The Chattery it’s buffet time! Out comes the cheese board, bread, pork pies and nibbles to keep the paying punters entertained while the next band sets up. You don’t get this at Barfly!

How the six-piece Detroit based Deadstring Brothers fitted into the performance area (the window of the cafe!) was somewhat an amazing feat in itself. The keyboard and pedal steel players were squeezed next to the tables stage left and right, while the guitarist, bass, drums and female backing rubbed shoulders centre stage. Kicking off with the rousing 27 Hours, the band ran through the majority of their latest Bloodshot Records album Starving Winter Report and a few from the eponymous named debut. This was  country rock at its finest with highlights Entitled, I’m Not a Stealer, Sacred Heart and encore Lights Go Out. The male and female vocal really lends itself to the bands songwriting style with the pedal steel and electric piano adding a different edge to their sound. Looking the “real deal” dressed in battered black shirts and denim with their pale complexions, thin and drawn from a vast touring schedule, these highly polished musicians won many new fans and sold a lot of CDs on the night. Highly recommended. Try some tracks at www.deadstringbrothers.com if you don’t believe us.

We’ll certainly be back to The Chattery’s pleasant atmosphere in the near future, but don’t tell anyone else about Wales’ best kept music secret or we won’t get a seat or any pork pie next time! To see what’s on have a look at  homepage.ntlworld.com/thechattery/giglist.htm  

Monday 24th Oct

Bloc Party, Patrick Wolf
The Great Hall Cardiff University


We’d forgotten what it was like to go to a sell out gig in a large venue! The audience of mainly students turned up early to blag their square foot of floorspace and soon the Great Hall became akin to a sauna as the temperature rose.

Support act, Patrick Wolf, for whom the words twee, pretentious and twaddle have never been so relevant, appeared on stage with his floppy fringe initially covered by a white hoodie with a waistcoat over the top (pretentious moi?). His warbling while playing half-size guitar, violin and piano grated to extreme over the 30 minute set accompanied by a patient drummer. Songs could be pigeon holed in the Rufus Wainright/Anthony & The Johnsons mould if he had any real soul or substance, but in reality it just came across as a few scratch cards short of a lottery funded arts project. Avoid.

Bloc Party hit the stage to a roar and immediately leapt into So Here We Are before demolishing most of the Silent Alarm album. Personal favourite Banquet (introduced as "this is a song about sex") was played early in the set. The crowd seemed to hold their arms in the air for most of the night making it hard for short arses like me to see! Lead singer Kele obviously enjoyed every second of the adulation and while chatting between songs, asking if Charlotte Church was in and declaring that Cardiff had the loudest singing of the tour. The lightshow was impressive, but the sound in the Great Hall left a lot to be desired and final song of the main set, Helicopter, reverberated into a messy climax. Coming back with a five song encore beginning for Two More Years and ending with The Pioneers, they promised to be back next year. Judging by tonight it will have to be a bigger venue with a better sound and support act..

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