I was invited to this gig by one of the performers on the night (Rob), and though I was a little apprehensive, I decided it might be half decent and that I should go along. I initially thought that I wouldn’t have enough money to get there, after my exploits at Central Station the night before, but a generous mother meant that getting there wasn’t an issue!
When I spoke to my ‘photographer’ about this gig, he told me that it would be absolutely awful and that the acoustics would be terrible. Admittedly, this was a little unnerving and so when I rolled up in the passenger seat of my mother’s glamorous Renault Megane I was further unnerved by people wandering round in traditional Welsh attire. I’m still not really sure why people were dressed like this. I put this behind me however, paid my £3.50 and stood awkwardly at the back of the hall until I spotted Rob and went and sat with him.
I generally have very little to complain about in this gig (Don’t worry, I’ll find something to complain about!) but my main complaint would have to be the filler DJs. Although they got the sound absolutely spot on, they clearly weren’t set up to be DJs. Poor transitions and song choices completely irrelevant to the night at a ridiculous volume sort of spoiled the evening a bit.
I was a little late getting to the gig as doors were at 6 (which I think is far too early) but there were 6 acts on, and I suppose a 5 hour running time for this amount of bands is appropriate. Luckily, I didn’t miss anything and about 5 minutes after I got there, the first act stepped on stage. The woman who I assume organised the gig introduced her (and all the other acts) as a 14 year old performing for the first time. Needless to say, I was expecting a nerve-filled performance full of mistakes and awkward moments. Yet Cadii seemed to handle the pressure incredibly well. I remember my first gig as the most nervous moment of my life and I’m fairly sure I was terrible, but Cadii really surprised me with this performance. Performing with only a guitar for accompaniment, she went through her 15 minute set with apparent ease, not missing a note. She sang some favourites such as The Zuton’s “Valerie” with a voice well above her years. Far from the wailing, nerve wracked performance I was expecting, Cadii sang with confidence and her own unique style. Aside from a lack of crowd interaction, this was a superb performance and I think we can expect some big things from this girl in the future.
Next on the bill was a band from Rhyl called Rusty Pickups. Opening with The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” is always a hard thing to do and unfortunately, these guys didn’t really pull it off. I don’t know whether it was nerves, but there were mistakes from the guitarist and the drummer performed with energy less fitting of Keith Moon and more of well… Keith Ellison maybe? (He’s a politician that has something to do with farmers, how could you not know that?). Disappointingly, the rest of the set followed suit, with fairly lacklustre performances from the band, reminding me of a group of shoe gazers. The only redeeming factor for this band was the bassist and the singer. The bassist looked disappointed to be on the same stage as his band mates but regardless of this performed solidly throughout. On a similar note, the singer looked troubled as he sang, but at least he did sing. Unlike a lot of similar bands, he could actually hit notes and stay in key, which is something that a lot of “singers” can’t do. Once again, very little in the way of crowd interaction led to a thoroughly disappointing performance. Having said that, these lads seem to be good mates and with some practice, they could potentially be a good band. But as it stands, not for me.
Third on the bill were a band who didn’t have a performing name, and instead just went with ‘Gethin, Elena a Rob’ (The band member’s names, in case you didn’t guess.). This works for Rodrigo y Gabriela, so why not I say! At any rate, if their name isn’t memorable, their performance certainly was. Opening with a Welsh nursery rhyme turned in to a dramatic folk song seemed to skim over the heads of much of the crowd, but it was a stroke of genius. This opening really lined them up for the rest of their performance in that it was light hearted and generally something to laugh at. On the face of things, this set was loaded with comedy moments, such as performing a more upbeat “Four Chord Song”, but if you listened a bit deeper, it was pretty evident that these guys are very talented musicians. Rob played about five different instruments throughout the 30 minute set, as did guitarist Gethin, and when performing Coldplay’s “Fix You”, vocalist Elena got to show off what a truly incredible voice she has. Not only were Gethin and Rob multi instrumentalists, but they also provided excellent harmonies. The kind which makes you sit up in your seat and go “Wow, what great harmonies these guys have!” Also, for the first time in the evening, they interacted with the crowd, and while not everyone participated, it was just nice to see an act acknowledge that other people were in the room. This definitely worked to their advantage, as after being thrown on stage early and getting a longer set time, they ran out of songs. As a result, they repeated the two most popular songs from their set, which I would normally slam a band for, but on a relaxed evening like this, it was kind of enjoyable to listen to them for a little longer.
Far from the laid-back approach of Gethin and co. the next band looked incredibly professional while setting up, with pedal boards, fancy guitars and stern expressions on their faces. These guys definitely gave off the impression that they knew what they were doing. Hailing from Denbigh itself, local lads Trwbadwr made a great first impression and so I was a little disappointed, but also forgiving when it came to their overall sound. They seem to have perfectly captured the sound of so many bands that are easy to forget. Musically, sound. Performance wise, sound. Individuality? Somewhat lacking. Playing a combination of their original songs and covers of indie / pop songs, it’s impossible to fault them on their performance, aside from maybe the Welsh. I get that this was a gig in Wales and that people in Wales speak Welsh (myself included) but addressing the crowd only in Welsh seemed to cause an unnecessary split in the room, which really wasn’t needed on a night which was all about community. It also seemed especially redundant as they sang most of their songs in English, but I digress. These guys were good to watch and very much enjoyable to do so, but they really need an extra something to make them just that bit more memorable.
The next band had an hour slot to fill, which I thought would be far too long for a small, indie rock group from Denbigh. Upon hearing their set time, I immediately dreaded having to sit through an hour of dreary indie music about something or other. This impression was almost instantly brushed aside by Indigo Sky however, as they got most of the crowd up on their feet for the first time and launched in to what was a surprisingly entertaining song. Far from the drivel I was expecting, Indigo Sky was an upbeat, entertaining and well-rehearsed outfit. I can’t in all honesty name a single one of their songs after the evening, but I’d probably recognise one if I heard it. These guys have a great sound and a huge catalogue of songs to back that up. I can only recall one cover that they played on the night and that was Arctic Monkey’s “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and they even made this their own; switching it from a heavy anthem of Britain’s dodgy nightlife in to a swing song which just made me grin. I can safely say that I absolutely loved this band, everything from their stage presence down to their clothing choices just screamed out that they were a band with a purpose who had found their sound. I don’t honestly know why, but most bands nowadays seem to be lacking their own distinctive sound, which makes it even more pleasing knowing that a band like Indigo Sky exists local to me.
The night’s headliners were one of those bands which are seemingly impossible to hate. Once again, hailing from Denbigh, The Cherokees describe themselves as a vintage rock band. This is a fairly accurate description which I don’t care to amend. Ploughing through rock classics from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pulp and many others, they seemed to have picked a perfect set for the evening. Almost everyone was up dancing to them and they were just launching energy in to the room. Aside from a bored / worried looking bassist, the band was incredibly enthusiastic and completely flawless in their performance. The front man really managed to get the crowd going while providing exceptional vocals which were backed up solidly by the two guitarists. The three real stand out songs for me were Queen’s “Under Pressure” in which the second guitarist dropped his axe in order to dance around while singing, Madness’ “Baggy Trousers” in which previous performer Gethin joined the band on stage to play harmonica and finally, Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.”. This third song really stuck in my mind as it just seemed like an unusual choice for a band like this, it’s not really a rock song, and it’s not really vintage either. These two facts didn’t seem to bother the band though, as they made it their own in a flawless performance which everyone on the night seemed to love.
I should point out that this was a charity gig in aid of carers in the community. I think this is an absolutely tremendous cause to raise money for, and I’d like to thank the organisers of the event for supporting such a great cause!
The Cherokees: https://www.facebook.com/TheCherokees
Rusty Pickups: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rusty-Pickups/452434061481165