Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dirty Protest / XFM South Wales Winter Wonderland

I attended the second, festive-themed Dirty Protest at Milgi in Cardiff’s City Road a few days ago. Another highly entertaining showcase of very short plays performed by Rhian Blaidd, Mark Flanagan (who was in one of my Beaker episodes) and Catrin Stewart. The pieces were mostly on the light side (apart from an elegantly shattering monologue from Gary Owen), ranging from high comedy (Tom Cullen, Ian Lewis), via the touchingly surreal (Mared Swain), to the cutely romantic (Stuart Allen, Matthew David Scott). I was at the first of the two shows that night, and it was packed to the rafters (if a yurt can have rafters), despite the appalling weather. Good to see that it’s got such a high profile in the area.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the first XFM South Wales Winter Wonderland concert (a benefit for Shelter) at Cardiff University Student’s Union. A remarkably good, festival-esque bill. First on were Kids in Glass Houses, although I arrived as they were halfway through their last song – sounded like more than passable power-pop. Next band on were the excellent We Are Scientists, with the customary erudite, off-beat banter punctuating their straightforwardly melodic but highly effective pop-rock – it might be termed “emo” if they didn’t have such a highly developed sense of humour. Since the last time I saw them, they’ve replaced their drummer, and tweaked the “nerd-cool” balance by adding a guitarist/keyboardist who looks like Julian Rhind-Tutt. Next up were The Enemy, who paid tribute to their roots and signalled their intentions by having the Specials’ “Too Much Too Young” as their entrance music, and proceeded to rock pretty hard, transcending the Jam/Oasis comparisons by virtue of their obvious passion. Next was a three-song acoustic cameo by the beautiful Duffy – a remarkable, piercing voice which called to mind Carmel; elements of the crowd didn’t seem to be in the mood, though, remarkably, given the excellence of “Rockferry”. Headliners were the peerless Super Furry Animals who were, I suppose, inevitably going to give us a Greatest Hits set, this being a homecoming gig at Christmas-time. Frankly mental, from Gruff’s magic helmet, via Grizzly Adams Bunford’s minimalistic “Earth”, to the infamous “Man Don’t Give A…”, it was disciplined, celebratory psychedelic mayhem, and ecstatically received. Following on from the blinding Foo Fighters gig a couple of weeks ago, another all-time classic, almost 30 years into my gig-going career.


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