(review by neil crud)

‘Can we just search you please sir.’ It wasn’t a request, but a demand from the burly doorman as his hulking colleague stood there to back him up. Such is the organisation & security at these MASE events it ensures there is little or no trouble in or around the Conference Centre.

’Its OK, I’m not armed.’ I joked.
’That’s alright sir, it’s just to ensure you have no weapons or alcohol.’
They didn’t do their job properly as I managed to smuggle in a whole bottle of wine right under their noses! OK, so it was in my stomach at the time!
In typical Crud fashion, the band I most wanted to see Floater’s Revenge (pic above) were hammering into their final song of disorganised punk rock mohicaned chaos. Formerly Terminal CC I thought I would at least get a pic of those spiky topped haircuts, but in typical Crud fashion again the camera battery was flat. It’s the 21st century for Crud’s sake! And we’re still using batteries in poxy bloody cameras.
Anyway I digress. Platonic a 5-piece reserved very young pop band had a female singer who reminded me of the late 80’s indie band the Darling Buds, but a very nervous version. The token cover versions were inevitable; I’m Only Happy When it Rains being an obvious choice. The guitarist (Ed or Chris?) also had a pretty strong voice & took over for the final couple of songs, I only hope that Jackie doesn’t end up as the token girl singer (a la PSST). Were all the songs covers? The usual jukebox friendly Green Day anthems were wheeled out, but PLEASE do something different. Yes, the covers are crowd pleasers, but they’re so unoriginal – let’s have a punked up Beatles song for starters. This is not a swipe at Platonic; it’s a kick at all unsigned bands.
A debut showing for Under Tow raised the eyebrow, I initially thought the PA announcer called them Undertone & they looked far too young to know their plural counterparts. This 3-piece featuring Tom, Henry & Kerry looked like shoe-gazers meets White Stripes as the long instrumental opening kicked in. Next up was Blur’s Beetlebum which was so laid back I swear it was laced with hashish, so very fittingly they headed into the Ramones I Wanna Be Sedated, although there was no need for sedation, these guys were cool enough to shit Cornettos! Kerry’s drumming style is very similar to Nick Knox of the Cramps as the set got dirtier to the end finishing with a relaxed but still enraged version of Rage Against The Machine’s song that goes ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.’
The biggest problem with maintaining the A-Z of the link2wales is the amount of line-up changes, name changes, bands that form, play a gig & split up. I could ignore bands until they become established & only include them when they become a ‘proper’ band. But MASE are making them proper bands, & there is always the chance of missing out on recording the details of the next Super Furries or Mansun etc.
Local hero Gary Hubble is a tough nut to crack – what is a man of undoubted talent & confidence doing not in a band? He has flirted with a couple of groups (Alien Matter, Hub spring to mind) but never held down a full time job, why? Perhaps when I said undoubted talent, I meant it in the context of playing other people’s songs, is he of the genre that have an immense ability to play & sing but have very little capacity to write their own material? I certainly hope not, maybe one of you can remind me of this review in years to come when Gary is grinding out a meagre living by playing cabaret in the Cottage Loaf. Again, I hope not.
With bigger & much more experienced brother Mark Moo (ex Babakin, now of PSST) lending moral & guitar tuning support, his younger sibling Danny Moonan made his live debut with Rhos based Surrealism. Although it wasn’t surreal, it was quite real. Had these been playing in London to the cocaine driven A&R crew they’d’ve been snapped up immediately on the strength of their opening number, which brought up memories of an early Jesus & Mary Chain in costume (cloaks & fur coats). Out of time, out of tune & after 3 songs, out of luck they stumbled through some choice covers. One being Teenage Kicks where the midget Mick Ronson lookalike Ethan played a guitar solo that would have made a 4Q-era Neil Crud proud of! Singer James does possess a kind of Mark E.Smith stance & took the trouble to slag off Under Tow. They ended a painful set quite unremarkably; like stepping back after you’ve lit the touch paper only for the firework not to go off.
What is evident is the professional organisational control MASE has at these events, the band finishes, there’s 3 or 4 excellent & diverse tunes blasted out from the DJ then we’re bang into the next band. This time Abandon Hope, a 4-piece with a keyboard opening that turned out to be New Born (Muse). A good singer not afraid to look you in the eye is always a good sign in a band, add this to a top guitarist, top bassist & top drummer & you’ve got yourself a top band. No wonder there was about 150 punkers trying to bruise each other down the front. But again we face that dilemma cross roads, do we play Peaches (Presidents of The USA) & head on down the road of being crowd pleasers with a guaranteed spot on the summer camps? Or do we use this absolute EC Mountain of natural talent we possess & forge ourselves as a serious outfit? After another Muse cover we headed it Chilli Peppers domain & I headed home having abandoned hope (sorry!) of this band ever selling their own material. If they went on & played an hour of their own rip-roaring stuff after I had left then I do apologise, but somehow I don’t think so. Yes, yes we can all have a laugh & get a real buzz of being a Muse tribute band (called A-Muse !!) but I would like to think this isn’t what Abandon Hope are all about.
Answers on a postcard.

 Next MASE showdown – 17th December.