(review by MWJ)
There were surely enough clues in the above to indicate a night of something out of the ordinary so another trip over the water beckoned. The last time I was here was for the eclectic mix provided by Adam Walton putting on the excellent Akira the Don some time back and a lot of similar faces had been drawn. Indeed, the proportion of people actively involved in independent and alternative music was high, maybe also as the bands weren’t necessarily conventional crowd pleasers or well known enough to attract much passing trade
First up we had a “rare” live appearance, maybe the first sighting for me, of Jack Sharp. Various of his previous works have reached my ears but this was all new stuff to me though, his stripped down, stuttering bluesy rock guitar backed by the Ectogram drummer gamely trying to ad lib beats on the hoof apparently. Over the top of this is the surreal lyrics delivered in his distinctive dour Anglesey twang, though there’s a wry sparkle to it at times. Nice limited edition t-shirt for tonight but would like to see him rising from the lo-fi basics maybe with a bit of distortion experimentation, as I know he likes his heavy stuff.
The first of our two (or one…) touring bands next, all the way from Amsterdam come Dusty Blinds A three-piece fronted by a girl, there’s obvious (lazy) comparisons of their melodic but powerful inde to something like The Breeders. With two guitars but no bass a lot of the drive comes from the pounding girl drummer but the singer also has a lot of charisma. She complements us on our scenery, the contrast to home is significant. Even an alleged ballad had a lot of energy injected into it by the end and it’s good stuff all round
There’s been swirling projected background that I’d presumed was computer generated but about this time I realise it’s actually a loop of some illuminated moths or flies and fits ever so well with the effected waves of Ectogram’s sound. They start off a bit too chaotic though, the drums are all over the place – literally, as the bass drum slides off across the floor and then next thing you now the drummer legs it altogether. He returns with some bricks to help solve the problem (later assisted by people’s feet and instrument cases) and is then able to get into the hypnotic groove, the wash of sonic layers from Alan’s e-bowing and Ann’s 12 string blending with her wavering, haunting vocals and sweeping all along.
Time has obviously been distorted somewhere as when, as a spotty teenager, I first saw Ann with the Fflaps putting in a much more sensible performance than 4Q at a festival in Corwen I thought she was eye-catching woman then. Now she looks younger than me and in far better condition! Must be something in the water.
After a bass-less evening so far this is rectified in a great way by the headliner The Bent Moustache with their main man wielding a distorted, overdriven sound out of a massive cab. An ex-pat also now from Amsterdam the rest of his band are the rest of the Dirty Blinds, though now that girl has switched to keyboards and backing vocals (not that that limits her bouncy enthusiasm in any way). They summon up an excellent up-tempo groove that is not far removed from the likes of Dinosaur Jnr or Gallon Drunk (especially with that organ sound in the mix), and even gets some folks dancing. I had heard them compared to The Fall for their sharp social-political observations but personally found them a much more melodic proposition. The frontman has boned up on his North Wales history and there’s even a mention of some long lost (and best forgotten ;-)) scumbags 4Q. Given the big applause at the end all in all a worthwhile trip and experience for the bands and the watchers, I am too skinted to buy their “Forst” album but am sure it’s an excellent reflection of how good they are live.