Panic Shack absolutely rocked Clwb Ifor Bach with an immense performance.
On what was possibly the most chaotic night of weather this year, Clwb Ifor Bach was gearing up for its most chaotic gig. Smashing into the music scene last year, PanicShack have quickly made a name for themselves and are storming Cardiff with their live music. Following the recent release of their debut single ‘Who’s Got My Lighter?’ next up for Panic Shack was their very first headline show, and to say I was excited would be a major understatement. Battling through the rain, I made my way to Clwb Ifor Bach, fuelled by the swirling storm and adrenaline. For this sold out gig, we were all going to be packed into the downstairs room of Clwb, which I knew would provide such an intimate gig experience. Perfect for Panic Shack.
I walked in just as first support The Mudd Club were starting their set. A punk-rock wonder to behold, lead singer Sadie was a gothic dream with fired up vocals that charged their music. I was really impressed by their sound, and even more so when I spotted their drummer. For his age this young man is insanely talented, and insanely cute too. I would describe The Mudd Club as a blend between an early Siouxsie and The Banshees meets Joan Jett. Listen to them live, and I’m sure you will see what I mean. The crowd quickly gathered as their music filled the downstairs room of Clwb, and already I could see that people were dancing and enjoying the evening. The Mudd Club were a fantastic first support, who ramped up the night with their punk-rock energy. Little did I know, they are actually siblings, which makes this band even more heartfelt and special in my opinion.
Next up, were Grandma’s House. A band that completely blew me away. I didn’t expect the sound I heard from them at all, but it was such an intensely riveting surprise. Lead Singer Yas posseses a deep coarse grit within her vocals, that tears apart your senses and enthrals you in their music. This contrasts beautifully with the vocals of drummer Poppy, adding a slight sweetness to this heavy punk infusion. The trio blend together with shredding guitar riffs and drums to provide a truly unique sound, that is unlike anything I have ever heard before. For this alone, I would say they are worth seeing live as they really will scorch themselves into your brain and leave you wanting to know more about them. Their appearance did not match their sound at all, so in this case I would say never to judge a book by its cover is certainly a statement to uphold. It was their first live performance in Cardiff last night, and the trio hail from Bristol, but hopefully they will be back on Welsh soil very soon.
The atmosphere in Clwb was electric at this point. The downstairs room was packed from wall to wall, and there was so much laughter and energy present. Whilst waiting for Panic Shack to perform I caught up with Minty from Minty’s Gig Guide, and lovely readers of my blog Sarah and Louise who came over to say hello and watch the gig with me, which was so incredibly kind and sweet. I know I say it a lot, but honestly it really does mean the absolute world to me that you are taking the time to read my writing. I love getting to meet you when I’m at gigs, so please if you see me out and about, don’t be afraid to cover over and say hello.
It wasn’t long before our headliners Panic Shack took to the stage. At this point, the crowd went wild. It was clear that there was such an overwhelming amount of love for them squeezed into that room, and they are so deserving of it. Panic Shack’s fantastically fun, tongue in cheek lyrics and catchy music brings so much happiness and excitement to wherever they perform, it really is uplifting to witness. The first time I saw them when they supported Amyl and The Sniffers in November, they brought the night alive for the crowd and me, with an exhilarating burst of energy from their wonderful persona. With an amazing atmosphere from the start of their headline set, it was no surprise that the crowd swirled and drank in the madness from the get-go. It wasn’t long before I spotted the first crowd surfer, and with craziness and glee we all danced and sang.
Panic Shack’s music is energetic-punk, consisting of humorous spoken dialogue wrapped within their songs. You feel as though you’re in that dodgy party, drinking that cheap Lambrini right there with them, as they slur and chant their chaotically fun stories back to us all. Each band member in their own rights is such an essential part of this band, that I cannot imagine Panic Shack ever existing without any one of them. They are not only friends, but give out vibes of a family. With their inseparable bond and onstage presence that is so infectious within the crowd, you feel as though you’re a part of Panic Shack too.
A fabulously fun band, that take the seriousness out of the Punk genre, by injecting vibrance and colour. With their quirky style and welcoming approach, they’re a band you can’t help but want to be friends with. Panic Shack treated us to songs such as Jujitsu Bitch, The Ick and a song all about a Tesco Meal Deal, which made everyone laugh. Lead singer Sarah reckons you can know a lot about a person by their meal deal choices, and being honest it’s probably true. The band involved the crowd by asking what’s your favourite sandwich, side and drink. For anyone curious, I’m a chicken and sweetcorn kind of girl. Needless to say though, it’s these fantastic silly little touches that make Panic Shack so brilliant and special. So many bands are agonisingly serious, but Panic Shack can laugh at themselves and have fun. Which believe it or not is a rare quality. In my eyes, and many others, this makes a Panic Shack gig an instant hit with any crowd.
To close their show, Panic Shack absolutely rocked Clwb Ifor Bach with an immense performance of their debut single, ‘Who’s Got My Lighter’. This song has always been a crowd-favourite at a Panic Shack gig, but this time there was an insane amount of energy from both the band and their audience. Honestly the place exploded. I can’t even describe how amazing it was. I could feel the floor moving beneath my feet, as the crowd went mental for this screamer of a song. Panic Shack gave it their all, blaring vocals into the crowd and playing their instruments wildly. The room swallowed the song up and the band and the crowd were at one. It was magical to be a part of.
There was no shadow of a doubt that an encore would be demanded, and our pleas were answered with a cover of a Jaxx song. As an added bonus we also had a guest drummer for this one, as Tom from Buzzard Buzzard Buzzardburst on to the stage out of nowhere, after Panic Shack asked if there were any drummers wanting to play. For one, I didn’t know he could play drums, and two he’s a very good drummer also. Seeing his face beam across the stage made me so happy, as you know I adore Buzzard’s music so this was such a nice surprise. A Panic Shack and Buzzard combination was truly dreamy.
The set came to an end, and I can honestly say no one wanted it to end, as hardly a soul left the room once the gig finished. Panic Shack had absolutely smashed their headline gig, and it was so lovely to have been there and seen it for myself. I’m sure this will be a gig in a few years time, that I look back on and think ‘Wow, I can’t believe I was lucky enough to see their first headline gig, look at them now.’ I am certain that Panic Shack are going to completely dominate live music, as they are already in my eyes. If you are yet to see Panic Shack live, you can catch them along with Buzzard at G39 in Cardiff for The Rat Trap closing party on 28th March, shortly after this they are also supporting fellow-punks Talk Show in venues across Wales. I will link the tour posters and tickets below for you if you want to grab them whilst you can. I just wanted to say a special thank you to the lovely Emily from Panic Shack who went out of her way to say hello and give me a hug last night. Panic Shack were the band that first inspired me to write on my very first blog post, and they have been so incredibly supportive since. It was very special for me to see them performing their first headliner last night, like I said, they really are not only wonderfully talented but are so friendly and such a lovely band too. Congratulations on a truly special gig, Panic Shack.
Usually on my blog, you will see me reviewing gigs from emerging bands in smaller venues. Here is my first take on an arena gig review, and what other band to break that in, than The 1975.
The 1975, led by frontman Matty Healy, are passionate about not only music and their fans, but about the world we live in, and a multitude of related important topics. A band that voice their concerns via their music and use their platform to harness change for the better. Their headline set at Reading last year allowed them to express great concern over global warming, in collaboration with young climate change activist Greta Thunberg. The 1975 are a band, but they’re a band that care, as well as enjoying their rock and roll lifestyle too of course.
I have seen The 1975 before in Cardiff, however on that occasion I was stood so far at the back of the room I couldn’t see a thing that was happening on stage. This time around, I was determined to be closer to the front. Arriving at the Motorpoint Arena, I made my way to the side of the stage. Thankfully, to my relief my view was incredible. I couldn’t believe my luck.
The atmosphere whilst waiting for the band to come on was electric. The 1975 have a dedicated fan base, who love their music and them wholeheartedly. There was such giddy excitement filling the room. When lights out came, the darkness ensued a wave of screaming.
The 1975 stormed on to the stage, with a blaring opening of their latest debut single People. The heaviest and fastest paced of their offerings to date, it charged the crowd ready for the rest of the set. With the band on stage, the arena was more alive than ever, it was busy but the atmosphere never faltered.
Matty introduced himself and the band to us before delving into the second song, one of their very first hits, Sex. A classic, that will always be loved by fans. I absolutely adore hearing this song live, as it’s one where not a soul in the room mistakes the lyrics, everyone sings back to the band in harmony and it really brings home why we all love The 1975 so much. Their controversial lyrics and catchy melodies make for fantastic music.
The set continued as Matty danced his way through song after song. The 1975 have a way of producing singles that are instant hits, and this is apparent when you watch them performing live. Popular songs such as Chocolate, Give Yourself A Try, and Somebody Else made everyone dance and sing along with him. It was overwhelming to see just how many singles The 1975 have that are so popular and loved by myself and fellow fans, spanning across all three of their existing albums. Newest singles from their upcoming fourth album, including Me and You Together Song and Birthday Party also went down immensely well with the crowd.
As a treat, Matty and The 1975 also decided to play some of their older songs, such as Undo and Me. Some of these, people clearly never expected to hear live, as cheers reverberated around the room at the announcement they would be played. Matty himself admitted he wasn’t sure how performing them live was going to go. There was no mistaking though, that their older songs proved to be as loved now as they were back then.
On the other end of the spectrum, The 1975 also played us unreleased songs from their upcoming album Notes on a Conditional Form, which is due in April. One song which I believe is called Guys, included a gorgeous montage video played across the screens behind the band. It featured their own recorded clips of them throughout their life as a band. We saw a very young Matty, George, Ross and Adam through their own eyes. It was such a lovely song, with touching lyrics, that really resonated through the crowd.
As well as performing their songs on stage, there was a moment where Matty asked for complete silence from the audience. We were played their spoken track recording, entitled The 1975, which features climate change activist Greta Thunberg, whom I mentioned previously. The track expresses deep concerns over climate change, and played out to the audience, stressed how we can all make a difference and help stop global warming. In an arena environment which is usually chaotic and loud, it was emotional to see everyone completely silent and respectful of what was being shown to them. The recording being played during the gig expressed to me that The 1975 care enough to voice their concerns clearly. The issue was not woven into lyrics and played via a song during the set. Instead the band chose to set aside a portion of their performing time, to highlight extreme worries and fears, which are fundamentally important. The 1975 have a young following, and their urge for us to help in any way we can, was clearly manifested. Everyone listened.
After the spoken segment finished, the set continued with The 1975s rebellious track Love It If We Made It, which tied in brilliantly. The track is an anthem of non-conformance to society as we know it. The band came back with a fresh energy, and threw everyone into the moment and into the music. The 1975 really had made an incredible statement. Their performances were flawless, with Matty’s vocals proving to be as good if not better than the album standard. Regardless of them having toured relentlessly. Before Cardiff they had a run of two nights in London, Matty did admit the set list for Cardiff had to change slightly due to tiredness, but the band never wanted to let any fans down, and still delivered a beautiful show.
Asides from the music, The 1975 sent across a clear message regarding climate change, and spoke to their fans in a way that was different to any band I had seen before. The gig was moving and emotional, and it is undeniable that there is a huge amount of passion and genuine care driving this band forward. For every ticket sold on their tour, The 1975 have pledged that a tree would be planted for each one. Many criticise this band for their music and for mistakes they may have made in the past, but asides from all of that, for now and for the foreseeable future they are trying to make a difference to this world. For that alone they deserve a huge amount of respect and recognition.
The 1975 brought music and heart to Cardiff last night. Their performance was sublime, the stage aesthetics and lighting were as gorgeous as ever. Their love for performing and for their fans shone effortlessly. I absolutely loved seeing them live again. I heard songs I adore, sang, danced and had a brilliant time. A few of my favourite tracks even found their way onto the setlist, such as Robbers and I Always Wanna Die.
I also listened, took in a very important message and reflected as the night went on. Music is a message, and it is wonderful to see bands such as The 1975 using their platform for positive change. Music and political messages have gone hand in hand for decades, but in this day and age, The 1975 are really giving us something to wake up and think about.
Last night saw Clwb Ifor Bach become home to a wonderful music event, hosted by Horizons Cymru. Showcasing some incredibly unique and diverse musicians and bands, spanning across all genres. There really was something for everyone. Acts including Sonny Winnebago, Panic Shack, Lucas J Rowe, HANA2K, Codewalkers, Esther, Darren Eedens and Gruff Rhys all took to the stage to perform, for the gig celebrating Independent Venue Week 2020.
Each act had a short-burst set of half an hour, which was just enough time for them to give us a flavour of what they were all about. The night began with Sonny Winnebago and Panic Shack, who I heard performed amazingly well. I was gutted to have missed their sets at the start of the night, but time got the better of me on this occasion. Arriving a little later than I’d planned, I just managed to get through the door as Lucas J Rowe began his set in the downstairs room of Clwb. With a sound similar to what I would describe as Bruno Mars meets the Weeknd, Lucas brought hip-hop pop to Cardiff, and it was definitely something different for me to see on the stage, compared to my usual indie-rock gigs. I enjoyed his set, it was refreshing to explore a different genre to what I’m used to seeing live, and I loved how much he interacted with the crowd and brought everyone’s attention to the stage.
This gig had an upstairs, downstairs approach, which was entertaining, as after each set finished, a hoard of us would all dash between the top and bottom rooms of Clwb. One band would play downstairs, and as soon as they’d finished the next would be upstairs, so it added an unexpected bit of comedy to the night, with everyone running back and forth. This was highlighted in the moments where each band was introduced before their set, with Minty from Minty’s Gig Guide hosting the stages. I’ve always been a fan of Minty. He is fantastic at promoting and supporting Cardiff’s local music scene, as well as of course always being on the pulse with sharing upcoming gigs and events to look out for. Minty was a great on-stage host, and made us all laugh on multiple occasions, it was fab to see him taking on the role so confidently and boldly.
The next act on upstairs was HANA2K, so we all dashed up to watch her perform. Hana was introduced by Minty, and the rising pop-icon took to the stage. Hana has had a marvellously successful few years, most recently even performing at the Welsh Music Awards, which is a fantastic achievement. This was my first time seeing Hana and her music did not disappoint. I was expecting a pop-princess, but Hana is so much more than this. Incorporating meaningful emotive, heartfelt lyrics, all whilst remaining sassy and confident, providing an upbeat, bubbly performance. Hana reminded me of Zara Larsson, with the lyrical power of Maisie Peters, a great combination. Hana is one to watch, and I have a feeling this is only the beginning for her.
As soon as Hana’s set finished, we were back downstairs ready for the next band that followed. Stand out surprise favourites of the night for me, Codewalkers blew us away with their energy-packed set. Their music is a swirling mix of genres, ranging from rap, to rock, with a touch of reggae thrown in. They effortlessly switched genres even within each individual song. It really was great to see, and I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face throughout their performance. It was different, unique and really brought life to the downstairs room of Clwb, with seemingly everyone in the room getting involved and engaging with them. The band were clearly enjoying being there, and all mashed brilliantly together when performing. Codewalkers were smiling and laughing throughout their set, a confidence which exuded marvellously in the fun but fantastic show that they gifted us with.
By this point in the night, Clwb was getting really busy, and there was a great atmosphere building. It was lovely to see that so many people had turned up to support these bands, and with every person walking through the door making a contribution to Children in Need, it was all even more worthwhile for such a fantastic cause. The gig was obtaining coverage on BBC Radio 6’s show, as well as being recorded by Horizons. It was a high-impact event and a great celebration of Independent Venue Week. In the slight breaks in between sets, it was apparent to see that it was also a chance for people to network and get to know each other better. Everyone was chatting and laughing, and it was clear that something rather special was taking place. I managed to chat with several people I knew myself, this included meeting the very talented Welsh Music Podcast boys for the first time, who were so lovely and chatty! Saying hello and meeting people at gigs is always a favourite part for me.
Following Codewalkers set was the sublimely mesmerising Esther. Channelling an angelic, bohemian style, Esther danced and sang her way through her set. Carrying a softer tone to her vocals, when compared to the previous acts that had performed, I did feel that it was a shame not all of the crowd acknowledged this by giving her set the respect it deserved. Esther battled admirably against the noise and chatter that was rising due to the venue getting busier. However, I will admit I did struggle to hear some of her lyrics which was a shame, as the songs I was able to hear were beautifully delivered. I’d absolutely love to see Esther perform again in a quieter room, with an audience dedicated to her. Esther possessed a voice that was soothing, yet bold in parts, and I’d love to listen to her more closely.
Next up was Darren Eedens and his band The Slim Pickin’s. Wow, were they a breath of fresh country air. Bringing fantastically fun country music to Wales, Darren Eedens set was absolutely brilliant, and got the room up and dancing. Canadian-born Darren told us how he’d moved to Wales five years ago, and explained how welcoming he’d found all of the local Welsh people. It was a lovely little nod to our Welsh spirit and culture, and in turn he is sharing with us his wickedly quirky, country music, that really sent out such a feel good vibe across the venue. His set was an explosion of fun and friendship, with everyone seeming to enjoy it and get involved! Darren Eedens is definitely someone I’d recommend you to see live if you love a muscian that can have fun, all whilst still being incredibly talented. Darren Eedens and The Slim Pickin’s played an array of instruments from the banjo to the violin, that brought together this sensational country music collective.
Last but not least, the headline act Gruff Rhys embraced the stage. Having achieved success in both his solo career, and through a number of bands, Gruff Rhys is certainly not new to the Welsh music scene. It felt like a real privilege for me to get to see someone who many consider to be a Welsh music legend on stage for the first time. The beginning of his set mainly consisted of his Welsh language songs. Not being a Welsh speaker myself unfortunately, the lyrics were lost on me, but I was appreciative of the music and it was wonderful to see how in awe of him his fans were. His music is certainly something I could enjoy given a few more listens, just as I love other Welsh language music from bands such as Adwaith and Chroma. The second half of the set really picked up though, when Gruff began playing his hits that everyone knew and loved. I could hear the crowd singing and there was an electric atmosphere. The room was absolutely full to the brim and full of life, which wasn’t bad at all for a mid-week gig on a rainy Wednesday night.
All in all, I found this gig a lot of fun. It was so interesting to see such a variety of brilliant musicians, that really gave it their all. The gig brought a strong sense of community spirit to Cardiff’s music scene. Everyone involved rallied together to put on a fantastic show, and had clearly all worked incredibly hard to make this event so successful. They should all be very proud of themselves. The night was in aid of two well deserving causes; for charity, and for promoting Wales’ wonderful musical talent, within Cardiff’s great music scene.
Many of you I’m sure will be wondering why a certain someone wasn’t included in my recent blog post ‘5 of my Favourite Gigs From 2019’. Well, this is because I felt she was worthy of a post dedicated just to her. Phoebe Green is an artist that I personally adore, but asides from my love for her, there is no denying that she has quickly become a rising icon these past 12 months. Absolutely storming 2019 in the process. With a signing to Chess Club Records, 2 new singles, and a string of live shows under her belt. Phoebe Green has certainly made a name for herself. I wanted to celebrate this hugely successful year of hers and explain why Phoebe has taken the crown for 2019 in my eyes, and I’m sure many others’ too.
I’d like to introduce Phoebe Green as an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. Phoebe writes her material herself, and her songs are a reflection of her own existence. This open window into her life, is something to be treasured. A very honest and brave lyricist, who does not hide behind a persona on stage. What you see when Phoebe performs is raw and real, and for me this makes her very special. From a young age, Phoebe has been passionate about music, and this is shown in her lyrics, that reflect as much colour and character as her name and personality. Originally hailing from the small seaside town of Lytham, Phoebe has since moved to follow her music aspirations and is now based in Manchester.
2019 has seen Phoebe take on supporting tours with the likes of Sundara Karma and Swim Deep, and most recently play an arena show with The Courteeners in Manchester. Earlier this year, Phoebe also had her very own headline tour in collaboration with ‘Get it Loud in Libraries’. An organisation that takes the quiet element out of libraries and instead fills them with music of all genres, in locations across the UK. As a result, this meant that Phoebe’s first tour was set to be so incredibly unique. Of course, I was first in the queue to get tickets to attend one of the shows, with the closest to me being Coventry. Asides from Coventry, Phoebe also played at libraries in Huddersfield and Liverpool this past summer. From what I saw; a smaller venue, with a dedicated crowd of fans, allowed Phoebe to shine exquisitely on stage. If I’m being honest, it wouldn’t even be fair to label the shows as being gigs, in my opinion the performances and atmosphere were far more intricate and intimate than that.
In Coventry Central Library, the stage was nestled in amongst the book shelves. It couldn’t have been anymore perfect, and it suited Phoebe so well. I don’t think I stopped beaming from the moment I arrived.
The first band to take to the stage were Porridge Radio. I’d never seen them before, but as soon as their set started I was captivated. Lead singer Dana has an incredible voice. I remember being completely fascinated by her sound and style. The songs they performed were gorgeous. Thanks to this gig I became a huge fan of Porridge Radio. I’ve recently written about them in more detail, congratulating them on their signing with Secretly Canadian Records.
Phoebe’s entrance to the stage was reserved, but beautiful. The room was so quiet you couldn’t hear a pin drop, and in that moment I felt for her. You could see that it wasn’t necessarily nervousness, but more a process of adaptation that was taking place. When you’re used to singing in front of a rowdy crowd that are fuelled on beer, to then be placed in front of people who are all patiently waiting in a library just to listen you. As Phoebe admitted herself, it was a change. Certainly not the environment she is used to performing in, as I’m sure would be the case for many other bands and artists.
As Phoebe began her set and the words of ‘Maniac’ began to echo around the room, you could see any hesitations she may have had melt away for her, as she relaxed into her surroundings. Needless to say, her performance was completely mesmerising. Phoebe has such a talent for song writing, and coupled with her incredibly beautiful vocals, this makes for a sublime pairing. A slight presence, that blooms in song. Phoebe Green is a flower bud, that bursts into life under the sunshine of the spotlight. She is wonderous to hear and behold. I’m not ashamed to say that Phoebe’s music has accompanied me through some of my loneliest, sleepless nights. Her songs have been there for me when I’ve cried, when I’ve overthought situations, and when I’ve simply needed something to listen to. So, to see Phoebe performing on stage, merely metres away from me, was very surreal. Phoebe’s set that evening was better than I could have imagined, and I felt so emotional during and after her performance. It was overwhelming in the best way possible.
To explain a little more about Phoebe’s music itself. Her self-released album 02:00am is gorgeous, and the lyrical content is haunting. It will reverberate with anyone who has ever been hurt or has longed for love. Vocally, most of her songs on this album are delicate to begin with, but the choruses are so powerful. Her songs transfix listeners with lyrics that speak of the frailty of the heart and mind. Encased in Phoebe’s soft vocals are subject matters that are certainly not delicate, but instead incredibly real, and piercing as a result of this. Phoebe sings of hurt, deceit, lust and love. For example, on the opening track of that night ‘Maniac’, Phoebe does not shy away from how weak we can be made to feel when blindingly in love with the wrong person. In contrast ‘Watercolour Envy’ speaks of a woman scorned, and shows beautifully, just how powerfully we can react when wronged by those we hold dearest, especially when infidelity is involved. The sheer raw emotion conveyed in Phoebe’s songs showcase her talents incredibly well. After listening to this album in full, it may come as a surprise that Phoebe had written these songs at just 16 years of age.
I know that Phoebe will openly admit she is embarrassed by the content of this album now, from having written the lyrics at a young age. However, despite her uncertainty, I’d like to assure her that for any listener, her songs will always be so relatable and poignant. Although, I can understand why she does feel detached from them. I know if I too were to look back on past relationships, and in turn old feelings that were inscribed within song lyrics, I’m sure I would also suffer embarrassment. Still it needs to be said, Phoebe as an outsider looking in, your lyrics are stunning. 02:00am should always be an album that is celebrated and loved.
Phoebe Green made her long-awaited return to music in March of this year. Prior to this, 02:00am was released in 2016. Her long hiatus from recording music has certainly helped her to grow, with ‘Dreaming Of’ clearly reflecting this. A stand-out, stand up for yourself ballad; ‘Dreaming Of’ lyricises a strong, independent woman who refuses to be put down, and aims to break free from her relationship and escape from a condescending partner. Phoebe projects so beautifully the betrayal that so many of us face, when we come to the realisation that we are in an unloving relationship, which we certainly do not deserve to be in. I’m so pleased to say that the passionate delivery of this new debut single gained Phoebe instant recognition. Clash Music and Pitchfork had both written stunning articles on Phoebe’s success by the end of April, and later in the year Phoebe had an interview with music heavyweights NME.
Phoebe’s new single came hand in hand with her signing to Chess Club Records, who clearly saw her talent and ran with it. Chess Club Records are a well-established name in the music industry, currently home to indie superstars Sundara Karma and Billie Marten. Chess Club also initially started the careers of giants Mumford & Sons, who put out their first EP with the label. This shows the sheer scale of what they see in Phoebe.
As I mentioned earlier, this year really has been the making of Phoebe Green. Being signed with such an expansive label as Chess Club has opened many doors for her, all of which she has gladly walked through. Many supporting and headline tours have kept her schedule busy, along with various festival appearances. Before finally closing the year playing an arena show with The Courteeners, which is certainly not an achievement to be taken lightly. However, Phoebe has remained modest throughout it all. Undoubtedly, one of the nicest people you could meet, Phoebe is so friendly and is genuinely such a kind-hearted person. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting her twice now. Initially following the gig in Coventry, I was over the moon to be able to speak to her, and more recently when she toured with Swim Deep at The Globe in Cardiff. Phoebe makes time for her fans and is so appreciative of everyone who speaks to her, and it’s these little sparks in her nature, that make her so wonderful. When I spoke to Phoebe after her set in Cardiff, she remembered when we spoke in Coventry. As a fan, that was so lovely and meant a lot to me. It proved to me that her fans obviously mean as much to her, as she does to us. Despite her clear musical talent, the lovely person that she is makes her all the more special.
I cannot wait for Phoebe to release her new album. As well as ‘Dreaming Of’ and her newest single ‘Easy Peeler’, which is equally as incredible and powerful in it’s emotional depth. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Phoebe perform two other new unreleased songs live. One I believe is called ‘A Song For Alex’ and the other is called ‘Double Vodka Lemonade’, which is my favourite. As soon as the album is released, it is without doubt that I will find myself writing about Phoebe again. But for now, I must congratulate Phoebe on the immense success that 2019 has brought her. It has been such a brilliant year for her, and she should be so proud of everything she has achieved.
I’m sure that 2020 will bring her even more happiness and success.
I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to read my writing, and for appreciating the incredible bands and artists whom I write about. I wish you all lots of love, happiness and more wonderful music in 2020.
Well Christmas is almost upon us, and the end of the year is in sight. The festive season is often a period of reflection for many of us. For me, this means an opportunity to look back on all of the amazing gigs I’ve had the pleasure of attending in 2019. Live music is a big part of my life. A couple of years ago I made a promise with myself not to miss out on gigs I wanted to go to. I started going to more gigs in local venues, and it has honestly been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten to know so many new bands, and discovered some incredible music, along with meeting the loveliest people.
I thought I’d share with you, 5 of my favourite gigs from the past year.
Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres – Sin City, Swansea, February 2019.
Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres are a fantastically talented band of musicians, that perform blissfully well together. They really are a must-see. Their origins as a band derive from playing together during a string of festivals. At which time they whipped up a frenzy with fresh, exciting music, and firmly squashed rumours that they were merely a side project for Peter Doherty.
In February of this year, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to see them for myself. In typical fashion, the gig was running late, door staff had informed me. Peter was out walking his dogs along the Swansea coastline at sunset, and who could blame him? It is beautiful. Once we were allowed in, I remember being puzzled for a second, as the band were already on stage. It took a moment for me to realise what was going on, and then I noticed Peter moving amps around and Jack tuning his guitar – it was soundcheck. They’d let us walk in on soundcheck. It was such an amazing experience. You could see the band were enjoying the unexpected early attention. With the gig being in the heart of Swansea, it gave Trampolene front man (AKA Puta Madres guitarist) Jack Jones, the opportunity to play up to a home crowd, reciting one of his most popular poems ‘Pound Land’. Pete also treated us to a few chords from beloved Libertines tunes, that really got the crowd going. There was no doubt in my mind then that this was going to be something extraordinary.
When the band came back on for their main performance, it was wonderful to see how chaotically perfect they were together. Resembling a gypsy punk-band, The Puta Madres are a spectacular sight to behold. As their debut single ‘Who’s Been Having You Over’ blared out to the crowd. Keyboard player Katia was a stunning free-spirit on stage. Drummer Rafa was the best kind of crazy. Needless to say, if you have read my previous posts you will know the adoration I have for guitarist Jack. Violinist Miki was kind and gentle amongst the madness. Bass player Miggles was more sensible on stage, but was wonderfully close to them all. I got the impression The Puta Madres are a band of friends, a band of lovers even. They have an adoring relationship with each other, and this is reflected beautifully in their stage performance.
The band sang and laughed, engaging with the boisterous crowd throughout the night. To hold on to my barrier position was hard, but by God there was no way I was giving that up. They introduced us to new single ‘Paradise is Under Your Nose’ and other soon to be album tracks. As well as performing hits from The Libertines and Babyshambles. As a treat for Jack’s birthday, Pete also gave him a moment on the microphone where he performed a stunning song ‘Lighter than Paper’, that is still yet to be released.
Honestly, I cannot explain to you just how much I enjoyed this gig. It was different, it was wild. I cannot recommend The Puta Madres enough.
This is The Kit – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, August 2019.
This gig was a real standout for me, because believe it or not, before that night I’d never heard a single song of theirs. I went to see This is The Kit with someone who adores them, in Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, and I decided to treat myself to the rare experience of hearing a band for the first time on stage. No spotify binging desperately trying to learn lyrics, no frantic searches for past set-lists. I just wanted to enjoy seeing them fresh in front of my eyes.
Honestly, the performance was sublime. Kate Stables, singer and founder of the band has an exquisite voice that really shone under the spotlight the night I saw them. Speaking openly, I’d say I was transfixed for most of that evening. Without questioning her vocal talent, she is also a wonderfully gifted songwriter. The lyrics in her songs are beautiful, and work stunningly well when placed against her voice, and the soft soothing playing of her instruments, whether it be the guitar or banjo. I remember being lost in songs such as ‘Bullet Proof’ and ‘Solid Grease’. I was frantically asking the person next to me as soon as they would finish, “What is this song called?” I went into the gig with an open mind, and it was sublimely rewarding. I was met with a beautiful band, in which all members are gloriously talented. Aside from Kate Stables, other band members such as Rozi Plain, are vocally talented in their own rights. Rozi has a growing solo-career ahead of her too, having recently played Cardiff’s Sŵn festival, amongst other locations.
You can clearly see during a This is The Kit gig, how in love with them their fans are. They have a niche cult following, that I’d guess they have acquired from dedicated festival going. This band can silence a room with their purely gorgeous soft songs, and in the next breath make them dance and sing with fan favourites such as ‘Moonshine Freeze’. All of which I had the glory of beholding for the first time. I watched how adored they were by those that knew them, and I too was captivated.
Now, I cannot even begin to tell you how desperate I am to see this band again.
This is The Kit are a gem certainly not to be missed.
The Amazons – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, February 2019.
Before I begin, I just have to say that this gig really was something special. I’d only managed to find out about it a few days before. The Amazons weren’t playing at many venues and had kept their announcements rather low-key. Probably because they were channelling much of their energy into the new album, but being as dedicated to music as they are, of course they wanted to treat us to a ‘little something’ before the release. I remember frantically searching to see if any tickets were still available, and to my relief, thankfully there were. I was so excited. Especially as I knew the venue was smaller, which makes all the difference. Although, of course I do go and see bands in larger venues, I much prefer a smaller gig, as the band are not lost on the stage and lighting. They are there, right in front of you. No huge barrier gap, no security guards in your way. It’s just you and the band. I think that was what I enjoyed most about that night. The atmosphere was just so intimate. To have the honour of seeing a successful band like The Amazons on a stage at my level, not high in the sky. It was fantastic. Honestly, if you go and see any band you love in Clwb, trust me when I say you will not be disappointed, but The Amazons really took the roof off the place!
I remember the night vividly, the room was awash with dedicated fans, all eagerly waiting for the band to take the stage. On a cold February night, the turnout was brilliant, and it was so great to see. It had been a couple of years since the release of their debut self-entitled album, and at this point in time, us fans had only been graced with new album Future Dust’s first single ‘Mother’. With the new album due in May, anticipation lingered strongly amongst the crowd. We were all anxiously waiting, desperate to hear any new material, and of course the classic tunes that we all knew and loved. The Amazon’s certainly obliged our request, by scattering new songs amongst our favourites. Us fans rejoiced. Any Amazon’s gig would be fantastic, but it really felt exclusive to see them playing in the small but mighty venue that is Clwb. We hung off every word that fell from Matthew’s mouth. Lyrics were sang adoringly back to the band, and they revelled in it. The room was alive, Clwb was alive.
Everyone was there for one reason, to witness the sheer amazing power of The Amazons.
They certainly delivered this, and more.
I remember the ending of this gig was phenomenal. Having kept us waiting, craving throughout the entire setlist. We were hit with it. ‘Junkfood Forever’. Mine, and I’m sure many others, favourite Amazons song. It was fantastic. The room completely blew up, and I’d say going to this gig was worth it just for this song if nothing else. That’s how good it was.
The All-Dayer (Headlined by Matt Maltese) – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, November 2019.
This all day gig was a real treat. Starting earlier than usual, it was a jam-packed line up born from a collaboration between Council Records and So Young Magazine. Bands including Rosehip Teahouse, Drug Store Romeos, Talk Show and Happyness took to the stage. Headlining last but not least of course was the king of wounded lovers, Matt Maltese.
The first band I saw that evening, Rosehip Teahouse, are a wonder to behold on stage, their performances are beautiful every time, and this gig was certainly no different. Personally, I find them so endearing as a fresh, new band that I’ve written about them in more depth in my post on 10 Emerging Welsh Bands.
Drug Store Romeos were a new band on me, but their sound was so unique and different to anything I had heard before. To put it simply, they were nothing short of mesmerising. Lead single ‘Now You’re Moving’ was stunning, and Sarah was fascinating to watch perform, with her ability to sing and play piano, all whilst dancing and engaging with the crowd at the same time.
Despite this gig having a lengthy line-up, the intervals between each band were kept short and concise. I think this is what made everything run so smoothly, the gig was constantly moving, and there was never a point at which the evening lost momentum. In the intervals where bands were not on stage, I could see it was a fantastic opportunity for networking. Event organisers and representatives from the magazine and label mingled in with the crowd of fans, and band members who were also watching each others’ set. People were chatting, and getting to know each other. It really seemed as though there was a community spirit here, and that this was something more than a gig. Something rather special, I’d say.
The next band to take the stage were Talk Show. The lights were completely dimmed, and it was at that moment I felt the atmosphere change. I could see lead singer Harrison limbering himself up to take to the microphone, as if preparing for an exorcism. Holy hell did the devil take hold. Trust me when I say, I was blown away. Talk Show switched the night up in seconds, turning it into an eery, energy-filled punk show. Honestly, this band ripped my heart out of chest and stuffed it back in again with their music. Possessing a real “hold on for your life” feeling. They dominated that stage, and their performance. Talk Show hail from South London, and are similar in style to Slaves or Idles, but with more of a frightening twist to their lyrics and sound, that makes them so much better.
I wasn’t sure where the night was going to go after this, as Talk Show were so different to what I was expecting, given the style of previous bands and the subsequent headliner to come, Matt Maltese. I think that was the reason why, unfortunately the next band Happyness didn’t do it for me after that. I can understand how the mood needed to be changed, due to the complete contrast between Talk Show and Matt Maltese, but for me Happyness just didn’t work here. I hate to review anything negatively, and this is not a reflection on them as a band at all, as I could see how their sound was fun, and catchy, but it was just not right for this segment of the line-up I’m afraid. This is just my personal taste though; the crowd seemed to love them.
Last in the line-up was Matt Maltese. I absolutely adore this man and his music. I discovered him following the release of his single ‘Greatest Comedian’. Matt’s album ‘Bad Contestant’, dominated my summer last year and was mostly all I listened to for the remainder of 2018 if I’m being honest. On vinyl, it is an absolute masterpiece. Matt was at the top of my lists for artists I needed to see, so I was beyond delighted when I realised he was coming to headline this all-day gig in Cardiff.
Matt’s music is very close to my heart, so to say I was excited would be a sincere understatement. His music means so much to me, to describe how I felt waiting for him to come on stage, well I’d say I felt emotional more than anything else. I’d played his vinyl over and over, I’d cried, I’d laughed. Matt felt like more of a companion to me than a musician. So, to be faced with the fact that any moment now he was going to be performing the songs I adored so much, merely inches away from me, it was completely overwhelming but utterly blissful. It is an unreal sensation, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with, when you know you’re going to be in the same room with someone whose music honesty means that much to you. It could have accompanied you through the happiest or the saddest times in your life. I think this highlights why I feel so passionately about the live music scene. These artists are there for us when we could be completely alone, and to then be able to see them and treasure their songs and the memories attached to them in our own lives, is stunningly beautiful. This is what musicians need to hold on to and cherish about their fanbases.
Matt’s setlist that night was utterly gorgeous. To be able to watch him play piano and sing, so closely. Honestly it took my breath away. Matt played songs from ‘Bad Contestant’ including the incredible ‘Like a Fish’, and mixed in songs from his newly released album ‘Krystal’, which is of course a triumph, and I’d argue more emotional in its content than its predecessor ‘Bad Contestant’. My favourite from this album is the track bearing the same name, which I was also lucky enough to hear him perform live that night.
Matt even made time to run his own merch table, and greet fans after the show. Of course I went bounding over, and introduced myself. How could I not? I really felt as though Matt went the extra mile in this gig, not only with his stunning performance, but all by how approachable and personable he was. It really made me smile, ironic really, with lyrics so heart-breaking.
Massive Wagons – Patti Pavilion, Swansea, October 2019
I just had to choose this gig as one of my favourites! I love a good rock show, and Massive Wagons made sure I experienced one in all its glory. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band a couple of times now. The first gig was on a whim, as we had booked tickets for a Saturday night out. A few drinks and some good music. The added bonus was that I got to see this amazing band! Their live music was great, and during the days that followed I listened to their albums and I was hooked. I had to wait a few months to be able to stream the other songs I’d heard live, as they were touring prior to the release of their next album ‘Full Nelson’. It was this album that really cemented my love for Massive Wagons.
When their next headline show was announced a year later, there was no way I was going to miss out! Although I’ll admit I did have some difficulty getting hold of my tickets due to a local disgruntled ticket supplier, but I was determined not to let anything dampen my spirits! Massive Wagons were coming back to Swansea, and I was so looking forward to it. The Lancashire rockers put on an incredible show, as I knew all too well from when I last saw them. This time though, I loved the songs, I knew the lyrics and I couldn’t wait to be down at the front.
Billed as an evening of rock and roll, there were several bands performing before Massive Wagons took to the stage. Ryders Creed, Scarlet Rebels and Ravenbreed got the crowd ready for what was to come. The room wasn’t packed, but it was a Sunday night and to be honest we were having a such a good time. Who needs a boring Sunday in, when you can go to a rock show?
Massive Wagons stormed the stage. Baz’s hat introduced them, by making a perfect landing on the coat stand, which made all of us laugh and cheer even louder! One thing I will say that makes Massive Wagons so great, is how fun they are as a band! So many rock bands take themselves way too seriously, but Massive Wagons are a real down to earth and friendly band. You can see within seconds of them being on stage, that they love being there and they work extremely hard for it too. Baz, lead singer of the band, recently wrote a very touching piece on their Facebook page, explaining just how much dedication it has taken to keep the band going. For me this makes going to their gigs a million times more worthwhile. This band absolutely love what they do, and for the price of a ticket to go and see not only a rock band that care, but a rock band that put on one of the best performances I’ve seen. It is worth so much more, and it keeps the dream alive for not only them but us as fans too.
Massive Wagons have a mixed following of all ages, and this could be seen that night in Swansea. They’re the type of band that I love, and my whole family could love. Their reach spreads far and wide, and this is fantastic. Their music consists of classic rock and roll, punchy guitar solos, and one hell of a voice. Massive Wagons are brilliant, and really make you want to get up and get involved. If you want a taste of how great they are, just listen to ‘Hate Me’ or ‘Ratio’, and then come back and tell me what you think. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, if they’re coming to your hometown any time soon – go. You’ll see one of the best rock shows around.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed hearing all about my favourite gigs of this past year. Of course there were so many more I enjoyed, and I wish I could write about them all. If you would specifically like to hear about any other gig that I went to, please feel free to get in touch! Alternatively, if there were any gigs you loved in 2019, please share them with me! It would be lovely to hear from you!
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you lots of love, music and happiness in 2020.
Is it fair to call this a gig review? After last night’s show, I’d say it’s more a declaration of love.
Last night, Clwb opened its doors to Australia’s phenomenally loud female fronted punk band Amyl and the Sniffers, and by god did they show Cardiff how live music is supposed to be done.
The night began at a steady pace, music boomed over the speakers as Clwb began to fill up. The gig had sold out, and as Amyl’s reputation precedes them, I was ready for a jam packed room, a beer fuelled crowd and an electric atmosphere. I was not disappointed.
I arrived ever so slightly late, as usual, just catching the tail end of first support Ratbags’ performance. The anticipation in the air was apparent; although for the moment, it was calm. The atmosphere began to build as the next band Panic Shack appeared on stage. By this point I had weaved my way through the crowd and was lucky enough to get a space near the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Panic Shack, as I had never heard of them before, but they were fantastic.
It was their persona and fun energy from the moment they walked on stage, that caught my attention straight away. They looked almost fresh out of the 80s with their style; mullets and clothing to boot. They really captured my heart and the crowd’s, particularly by how much you could see they were enjoying being there. Similar in sound to Amyl herself, lead singer Sarah threw her lyrics into the crowd with a mixture of blood stirring vocals, and equally passionate spoken lyrics. With a cheeky play on words, including a song about Lambrini – they made me smile, laugh and dance, all whilst being entranced by their performance. Seriously, if you haven’t seen them before please go and check them out.
After Panic Shack had finished their set, I could feel the wave of people that had filled the room close around behind me. The energy was building, people were excited. Panic Shack had got the crowd ready for what was to come. What had felt like a swirling storm of dispersed chaos before, had turned into an excitable, eager crowd, packed together waiting for Amyl to take the stage. I was in the heart of it.
The crowd went wild as Amyl appeared from the side of the stage. In that moment, I’ll be honest I felt a mixture of excitement and nerves, wondering if I’d bitten off more than I could chew being at the front for this one. Amyl greeted the crowd with a girlish charm and politeness, that contrasted spectacularly with her stage presence as soon as the bass kicked in. Amyl is a powerhouse of female sexuality, raw emotion and spirit. The way she grabbed the attention of a room packed with young and aging rockers was mesmerising. I couldn’t help but be in pure awe of her. Is it bad that I couldn’t even tell you what the first song was now? I was just lost in how brilliantly she commanded the room. Everyone went mad for her, from the very second she took hold of that stage floor, the room swirled and sang, the storm was well and truly back, chaos has taken over Clwb. It was incredible to see.
Her rip-roaring vocals on songs such as I’m Not a Loser and Control were heard early on, and I knew the set would not be anything other than a dream. The band worked harmoniously together, I felt as though the other members were as much in awe of her as we were, as she danced and wrapped herself over the stage. There was a sublime sense of madness from not only Amyl but everyone in the crowd. People were taking the stage and surfing throughout the set. No one was told to get down, nothing felt wrong. There were no rules, the band relished it. The admiration from the crowd was incomparable to that of any I have ever seen before. Losing control in the very best way possible myself; I screamed the lyrics of GFY back to her as she flared her smile and drank in the craziness.
The atmosphere never faltered; the sweat, the smiles. People were captivated. Especially in the moments where Amyl would pour herself off the stage, flailing limbs and energy, honestly it was beautiful to behold. Monsoon Rock and I’ve Got You brought us to the climax. Amongst the swirl of the crowd, I found myself having a moment where I stopped and looked around the room, people were thriving in the chaos. This really was live music at its best. As Mutts Can’t be Muzzled closed the show, an Amyl classic, you could see that nobody wanted this night to end. The crowd swarmed to thank her as she left the stage, arms reached desperately out in gratitude. Amyl had scorched their Australian heat over Cardiff on a cold November night, with what was easily the best live performance I have seen.