Cardiff Barfly – 7 June 2010

An emotionally charged atmosphere greeted Wheatus on their latest visit to the Principality, as only hours earlier the premature death had been announced of one the Valleys’ favourite sons, Stuart Cable.

It was made more poignant as leader singer Brendan Brown recounted the tale of sharing a booze-fuelled evening in the Welsh capital with the Stereophonics, back in the early 2000’s. He seemed genuinely moved and started the gig with an emotive tribute to the Cwmaman boy that made good.

The raw emotion of the situation seemed to galvanise the band into an electric performance. This in turn allowed the goodly-size audience an outlet to let off steam, both literally and metaphorically. By the nights finale the Barfly had the feel of a sauna with the amount of heat created by the heaving mass of humanity.

The band has somewhat flown under the musical radar since the halcyon days when “Teenage Dirtbag” blared out of every radio and MTV channel. Whilst they had their trial and tribulations with Sony, and ultimately parted ways, they have doggedly kept on recording and releasing songs under their own steam. I say “they” but in truth it is due to the talent, hard work and sheer bloody mindedness of main man Brendan B Brown that the good ship Wheatus kept afloat. It should also be noted that all their post Sony albums are available for download from their website (www.wheatus.com) on a pay-what-you-want basis. So rather than buy the next “corporate product” that Simon Cowell pushes your way, redirect your hard earned coffers to a more worthy cause.

Pic : Rosie

There has been a constant flux in band members, and tonight’s line-up again included last minute personnel changes, with two new female singers being recruited just before the band left the US. One of these was Liz Brown the lead singer’s younger sister, although he strenuously denied that there would be any sibling rivalry (Gallagher brothers please note!).

All premature requests for their biggest hit were rebuffed as being “a Girls Aloud” song, as the band set list took in tracks from all their CDs. More familiar songs like “Wannabe Gangster”, “Hey Mr Brown” and “Little Respect” sat nicely with later recordings such as “BMX Bandits”, “London Sun” and “In the Melody”, all of which received an enthusiastic reception. Consequently, requests for refreshment from the singer resulted in a production line of whisky shots being passed down to the front for his consumption. A mid set break was required to allow a roadie to repair a faulty pick-up, and in recompense of the sterling work done by the Geordie road crew, we were treated to an impromptu performance of “Highway to Hell”.

Pic: James McDonald

I note that several songs have a very personal edge to them and no more so than in “Lemonade” and “Song that I Wrote When You Dissed Me”. The former particularly in that it tells, in fairly graphic detail, of finding about the infidelity of your partner. This can’t be easy for Brendan to sing nightly, especially as it contains an element of his own experience. However, whilst he admitted that at times it was somewhat embarrassing, he wanted people to understand that he wrote only about true-life experiences and was not interested in risking being labelled a “phoney”.

Obviously the culmination of the night was “Teenage Dirtbag”, but again to bring some perspective to events, this was preceded by a final dedication to Stuart Cable. A mid song rap by support act MC Frontalot freshened up the delivery, and as if to pay homage to a fallen comrade, every voice in the house bellowed out the well-known chorus for one last time.

Wheatus. Cardiff Barfly 7 June 2010. A sad night, a happy night, an emotional night, but more than anything a fitting tribute by both band and crowd to a top bloke.

Stuart Cable RIP


Thanks to BBB, and Jane at the Wheatus Street Team for all the help