We had a bit of a pub quiz on the go downstairs at Blu prior to the gig. How many bands could we name who used the Number 4 in their name? The 4-Skins (shite skinhead band from the 80’s), 4Q (an under-rated top punk band from the 80’s), 4 Puffs and A Piano, 4 Minute Warning, The 4 Tops, err.. the Fab 4, 4 Non-Blondes, 4 Seasons… 4 king ell… we ordered another 4 pints.

4 Sticks or Four Sticks (pic below) were the second band on tonight and looking at the stage I immediately thought of The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry video when they had 12 year old ringers miming the song. These lads are so young they’ve still got their fucking milk teeth! Two of the members are the offspring of Paul Davies (Ocean Rane, Hooper, Mo-Tone Company Band) and doting dad along with other family members looked dewy eyed on as The Beatle pop-punk influences rang true through a pot-pourri of covers and very promising original material. Its encouraging that a young band occasionally gets the chance to polish their wares when an established venue like Blu rolls out the Rusks. Take a look at Outl4w and DeMask as further examples.

Before this; arriving in an explosive non-nonsense style came Ridinghood (pic below). Introduced by Blood & Lipstick promotor Steve Rastin, whose microphone sounds like a kazoo bought from Tandy, Ridinghood are the next in a long succession of South Wales bands now prepared to make the gruelling, but rewarding trip over the hills to our humble, picturesque shanty town. Thankfully, unlike Rastin’s mic the sound was great! Loud and crisp. The single Drama Queen opened proceedings like a North London tornado, ripping the roof off as the full on frontgirl Rhiannon gave it to us with both barrels, oozing with confidence and a swagger. It was mentioned that Blondie were an influence – I didn’t see that myself; the vocal style was more Lene Lovich than Debbie Harry. The bassist had 5 strings, why? Everyone knows you only need one string on a bass guitar! The music was structurally clever; not your usual run of the mill shite, it was almost cabaret in its delivery, insomuch that it can appeal to anyone without Ridinghood trying to diversify in order to please. It was questioned as to why they had a song called Superman as there was no need to sing about a dead cripple who couldn’t ride horses, or was that just the Rhyl sick sense of humour? Wheelchair gaffes aside, you’ll certainly hear of Ridinghood again

I last saw Portrait of A Lifetime (pic top) in April and enthused so so much about them that I implore you to read the review – infact I’m gonna cut and paste it here as it described the band to perfection… Duncan Black was very animated when he told me about Portrait of a Lifetime, he told me they had ditched their 5-piece line up and gone all electronic? My initial thoughts on hearing that is a guitarist and singer with a fucking bontempi drum machine. Well yes, I suppose I was right, but also very wrong. The drum machine was a blistering thumping volley after volley of break beats, samples, synths stabs, with a guitarist blasting chords and riffs and the jewel in the crown – Jamie – leaping, lurching, craning around like some crazed baboon trying to rip the spoilers off your Ford Cortina at Knowlsley safari park! In fact, if he could crawl across the ceiling like those subhuman creatures on The Descent then he would! P.oa.L are not here to simply entertain, they’re a politically motivated Prodigy and worth their weight in gold. I tend to trawl through bands for weeks and surface for air uninspired by what I had found, but every now and then someone will stick out head and dandruffed shoulders way above the rest. Caernarfon’s Clockwork Radio did it to me last week, Radio One’s Bethan Elfyn thought so too, as we had a candle lit meal (!). Tonight it was Portrait of A Lifetime, we came to see (and enjoy) Kobe, P.oa.L were the bonus ball and they rolled us out a treat. How fucking ace is it to have a band making fantastic noises like this on your doorstep! Excellent – I’ve just come…

Their approach took me back a month to the Tinitus Festival and it immediately struck me that this is exactly what that event lacked. PoaL would have stamped on EVERY band that played that night and quite literally blown them all away. This is Industrial with a capital Tungsten, this is Punk with a capital Hardcore, this is Fucking Amazing! They drill through your head with a blunt chisel then bludgeon you to death with chunks of sweat. Steve Sync (an Industrial connoisseur) said Portrait are a revelation, like a good Aphex Twin with a better front man as Jamie Byrne springs around like a rubber ball, not caring if you’re in his way – tossing women and 4 Sticks aside. He delivers his contorted messages of despair, one about their home town of Holyhead where you risk being stabbed if you go out; at least in Rhyl we’re more advanced and use guns. The set was relentless, like hearing Killing Joke’s Whiteout on 78rpm while strangling the cat. Death to you all as you jizz in the face of society, fuck you Jesus goodnight…