Future Of The Left/Alamos/Frommars/Toru:
Joy @ Newport Meze Lounge, 26/03/07

Joy is a relatively new kid on the Newport block, and (on tonight's evidence at least) seems to offer something a bit different to the identikit emo/hardcore one usually finds round these parts.

First up is eccentric one-man-band Toru. Now, Toru is a bit of a paradox. Because he makes me want to use words like "eccentric" and "original" and - eww - "kooky," and yet he doesn't make me want to throw up. He plays some brilliantly frenetic acoustic guitar, topped off with wails of harmonica and the odd snatch of falsetto vocal, and manages to charm the entire room. Everyone looks rather disappointed when it's time for him to go.

Not for long, though: Frommars are local favourites, and barely need to lift a finger to get a Newport crowd up and jumping around. Singer/guitarist Matt has recently left the band, and this is the first time I've seen them play as three-piece in quite some time. They probably won't thank me for saying this but, if you ask me, they're all the better for it. Because theirs is the kind of music that sounds best with no fat on it, stripped right to the bones. It's all sharp corners and epileptic jerks, occasional snippets of lyrical paranoia surfacing out of the glass-edged soundscape like bad dreams. Even when they do anthemic - as on "Fallout" - it's less a punch-the-air moment than a suckerpunch to the back of the neck. Roll on the new album.

Scottish noiseniks Alamos are probably tonight's weakest link, but that's not to say that they're bad. Far from it, in fact. Sure, they're a bit grunge-lite, but they're also energetic, enjoyable, and so ear-bleedingly loud that the sheer volume knocks several drinks flying onto the floor. (I have to say, I'm not quite sure that last one's a plus point - this pub ain't cheap, guys!)

photograph by marta naumiuk. lit by electricity

McLusky and Jarcrew were two of the most genius South Wales bands of recent memory. Future Of The Left feature ex-members of both, so expectations are pretty high. They don't disappoint, either, delivering more of the barbed wit, offensive comedy (barely a sentence passes without somebody or other being called a cunt) and scabrous psycho-pop that made McLusky so much fun. I'm gutted that I have to leave before their set's over to catch my train, and I'll definitely be looking out for them again soon. By the time I leave, I've also developed a worrying desire to molest Andy Falkous. Take note, kids: rock and roll is bad for you. Especially when it's this good.

Jess Trash