Earlier in the afternoon, Billy Bragg was in Chapter to talk about his charity Jail Guitar Doors, and brought a couple of ex-convicts who’d benefitted from the scheme’s rehabilitation through musical education aim. They sounded like Jamie T obviously, but even these men who’d probably been locked up for bumming swans had more fire and gumption than Elliot Jones‘s set. Limp acoustic guitar balladry and lack of any sort of audience connection pervades even to the toilets. The sheer nothingness is terrifying. Let’s hope his day job isn’t on 6Music.
Any wee thoughts that really you should have seen Richard Bishop in Bristol tonight get nicely knocked dead as soon as Y Niwl plug in. If they get any better I’ll be having their faces tattooed on my back. There’s still little finer thrill than being right at the front, beer buzzing your brain and a massive grin washing over you as this awesome surf rock band from North Wales launch into their endless haymakers. Tonight’s set initially spends good time tickling playfully with some Nuggets-y keyboard numbers alternating with the usual, stellar Duane Eddy-pushed-into-the-sea greatness. The ending is utterly electrodes in the brain killer though: “Un” and “Tri”‘s double punch of high speed twang and drawn out, high volume, galloping horses rockout. I’d be happy if they played at my mum’s funeral. And dancing.
Sion of Y Niwl turns up again in Cate Le Bon‘s band of miscreants, on guitar that sounds like tabla. His bobble hat fits in well with Le Bon’s ragged backing, deceptively shonky stuff that keeps one foot in folksy, earthy concerns, while the other kicks off to navigate more cosmic trajectories. Much of this flightiness comes direct from Le Bon’s singular voice, a moon-faced wonder that makes like a tree spirit Nico or a West Walian Jackanory. Nothing tops her stratospheric home run “Hollow Trees House Hounds”, with its madly skittering, wailing momentum, and the opening experimental keyboard mangling makes me miss Le Bon’s side project, the great, wiggy Kraut rush of Meanz Heinz, but tonight’s set still gives plenty supporting evidence to put Le Bon in the juicy, high end talent bracket. The year’s hers to mesmerise.