The Joy Formidable, Chapel Club, Flats
The NME Radar tour is normally a good way of seeing at least a couple of bands that go onto to bigger and better things. It gives you a sense of superiority to be able to tell your mates that you saw The Killers/ Kings of Leon/Westlife (delete as applicable) in a tiny venue, the next time they sell out Wembley Stadium.
And so it was to Cardiff Millennium Music Hall I ventured last Friday to try and improve my potential kudos factor. Actually, I already had a CD by one band, but my interest had been lately taken by the opening act of the trio of bands on show - FLATS.
They are according to the NME the snotty, grubby-faced antidote to todays trust-fund shmindie landslide, whatever that might be. However, to get a realistic idea of their sound, think 747 landing on a runway thats being broken apart by a pneumatic drill, all with a vocalist shouting over the top. Or to use bands of my era, Discharge meets Crass in the backyard of the Exploited. Now I appreciate this may not wet the appetite of everyone, but I f*cking loved it. They blast through the whole of their set in 13 minutes flat, with little break between songs for either applause or to draw breath. Lead singer Daniel Devine could be the bastard offspring of Steve Ignorant, and their dress sense, i.e. all black, certainly appears to have been borrowed from the anarcho-punk bands of the early 80s. Howling guitars from Luke Tristram, thumping bass of Craig E Pierce and military style drumming from Samir Eskanda cause an aural assault the like of which I havent heard for 25 years (give or take the odd Jesus & Mary Chain or Place to Bury Strangers track). They leave the stage to a welter of feedback not even bothering to acknowledge the audience. This is how rock stars should be loud, proud and arrogant. Check them out and see the new face of 1977:
The next group are heavily tipped to become big, but in truth CHAPEL CLUB are too achingly cool for me. I suppose this shows the 2 faced attitude most reviewers have. Whilst I can eulogise over the retro punk style of Flats, I find the mid 80s look of this band rather passé. And I have difficulty looking at the band without musing on the fact that lead guitarist looks like a young Jimmy Carr. Still most people of the growing throng enjoyed them, so who am I to judge. Perhaps I was left cold as I didnt know any of their tracks, but more likely its because Im an old git stuck in another musical era.
North Wales is not normally known as a hot bed of musical talent, and
at a push the only notable band I associate with the region is the Alarm.
However, tonights headliners THE JOY FORMIDABLE are doing their
best to change that perception. The three-piece band from Mold consists
of Ritzy Bryan on lead vocals and guitar, Rhydian Dafydd on bass guitar/backing
vocals, and Matt Thomas bashing drums and percussion. They have all
played previously in other bands, notably Tricky Nixon, but got together
in 2007 to form the Joy Formidable. Since then they have toured with
the Editors, supported Paul McCartney at his Millennium Stadium gig
and been one of the opening acts at this years Glastonbury. Their sound
has been likened to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, although The Times described
them as dreamy indie pop.