(review n pix neil crud)
Did this happen last year? I dunno… That’s been my bugbear with the Goll people – not enough advertising outside their Facebook friends. Thankfully this year, there’s been big pieces in the local rags and a bit of a feature on S4C (that’s Welsh TV to you kids). So you should expect a decent turnout.
I was there early, had a tight schedule and had to be at a Wobbly Hearts wedding in Llandudno by 7pm – traffic prevented me getting there anyway! Plus I knew headlining act Y Niwl were gonna be performing without Alun tonight and, as Ted Cloudsounds said, ‘It’s like seeing the Deltones without Dick Dale.’ Plus I’ve seen Y Niwl as many times as they have songs.
Ok, first moan coming up – Bands don’t announce themselves! They don’t say who they are… ‘Pnawn da Gwyl Gardd Goll goers, ni’n Afal Drwg Efa.’
No, we didn’t get any of that, so when this pretty fucking odd ensemble from some cesspit outside Caernarfon stumble on the stage and fumble around like some students performing an electronic experiment with your head, I’m sat on the grass wondering, are these Afal Drwg Efa or Radio Rhydd?
So maybe it’d be a good idea to hire a compere to announce the bands, someone famous like me (ha ha!).
After that initial fumbling around, they began with a ‘warm-up’ number, dreamy psychedelic stuff befitting this glorious setting on the banks of the Menai Straits. Sweeping guitar sounds, a thumping drum sound by a cool looking drummer (looks like he’s in the Ting Tings), and the Brothers Chemical side by side looping and bleeping away. Trippy stuff.
And any threat of a full set of psychedelica ended right there, and although it would’ve been very welcome, instead, instruments were swapped and on walks local poet / psychopathic ranter Rhys Trimble megaphone in hand to scream things about mogadons. Brilliant. The farting about between songs did break the spell a bit, and then Cai O’Marah of Radio Rhydd came on to get all het up about the world being tired (‘Mae Byd Wedi Blino’), this is where I got a bit confused as to who was actually on stage, and it dawned on me that Afal Drwg Efa are more of a collective than a band.
Trimble was back on in his smok and feathers, soothsaying with such anger and venom that he almost spat his teeth out. I was flanked by Bangor celeb Jack Sharp, who quipped, ‘A local Jim Morrisson.’ And he was damn right – a superb performance. It’ll be interesting to see Afal Drwg Efa in their own environment playing a full set rather than the allotted half hour.
Before you could say Efa’s Naughty Apple, the next band were gearing up on the adjacent stage. Now this was definitely Radio Rhydd, a band I’ve been wanting to see since learning about an anarchic mince pie throwing performance last December (review). My need to see was further increased by hearing a couple of tracks on the Afiach compilations, with Ffwcio Olympics a Stwffio Jubilee being a household favourite here at Crud Cottage. Sadly Radio Rhydd didn’t get time to play that choleric slab of genius, and I’m pretty sure their set was cut short – but it was a great 20 minutes. Welsh/English lyrics screamed, rapped, ranted, raved with such displeasure it was a joy to witness. These are young bois with a lot to say what is wrong with the world today, and the Welsh scene needs more Radio Rhydds and more Rhys Trimbles, here to transmit and spit the truth, or their truth at least. This reinstalls my faith in Welsh music, and when singer Cai is attacked on stage by a wasp, it might well have been one from the old Welsh brigade, angered by what could well be a new Anhrefn / Fflaps / Datblygu style revolution.
Cai by now has destroyed his mic stand and flicks out his middle finger and screams, ‘Stick this up the royal baby and fuck off!’ – Ha! Imagine Cowbois Rhos Bottwnog doing that…!!
It’s great when a festival / gig runs smoothly – no ponching about between bands, two stages playing one after the other means there is no conflict of interest, no sound clash just bang, bang, bang, one after the other, or, as is the case here, bang, bang, ahhh, as Osian Howells is on next, with his stripped down, lo-tempo set. A bit wishy-washy at times, but I guess that’s just the contrastic feeling after the previous band! It is pretty harmless stuff, no mention of royal babies being thrown into the Straits, or blood vessels burst during this performance. The bassist only joined at lunchtime (and it showed at times!) but fair play to him. The Welsh material was better than the last two English songs as it made Osian more interesting; singing in English makes him no different to the rest of the pack fewn saesneg.
One band finishes, another starts, making each set short and as sweet as the nutella, banana and cream crempogs on sale at the Crepe Stall… Osian finishes, Swnami start…
It’s poppy-go-lucky stuff from this very young Dolgellau outfit. Songs definitely written with Radio Cymru royalties in mind, and best of luck to ’em. Good vocal harmonies compliment Ifan Davies’ fine voice, rousing choruses with the right riffs in the right places. They pull it off live far better than on record, talking of which, they have a new EP to plug, that’s out next week, so I hope they diss that last statement. The final track was a belter with a great ending full of delayed mono synth sounds looping.
The days of putting on a Welsh Language Festival and being swamped by 1500 highly sexed farmercore kids high of Stella Artois have long gone – maybe Maes B is as close as you’ll get now. Yes, hardly any of them gave a flying fuck about the music being played but they made a decent crowd a very big crowd and they had money to spend. Sadly it’s all gone the same way as Pete Tong these days; ok, there is an element of warm can swigging gigglers in the crowd, dancing to Swnami, but nowhere near the sheer numbers that would crawl out from all the surrounding villages for these events back in the Cymdeithas days.
He may look like a mod but that’s as far as Sen Segur‘s moped loving main-man goes, for the music they make is a dreamy psychedelic noise way beyond the children that they are. I’m trying to work out what they’re about, why they exist, what their aims and ambitions are… It’s deffo lying on the grass in the sunshine stuff, or sat in a theatre. There’s no animation on stage – so maybe a mwg drwg would be the order of the day.
My reasons for questioning their intentions is it’s slide acoustic guitar stuff, it’s Pink Floyd before they went all self-obsessed shite, it’s not mainstream, yet it’s radio friendly and Sen Segur play the Welsh circuit in proper earnest, from my son’s school to pubs in Pontadawe to Festival No6 – intriguing stuff…
My final fling of this great afternoon/evening came in the form of scouse crooning crooner Bill Ryder-Jones – the t-shirt gave away his scouse origins, that recognisable face that guitared with The Coral and the fact the Welsh TV cameras had switched off..!
Bill has since written film scores and now has two solo albums under his belt, the latter (A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart) having not long been released and is more of a traditional record than his debut, which I found to be a little disjointed.
Nothing disjointed about today’s performance though, with songs like The Lemon Tree fitting the time and place, this wonderful Plas Newydd site perfectly…