Blimey what a year eh? I do wonder how history will judge 2016 and what's to come. Certainly it's been an interesting year for me which has seen my best laid plans take a little detour or three.
One of the great things about my year has been music and gigs, and there's been seen some great gigs in the last month.
The annual Swn was amazing. Sian and I had a mission statement this year of going to see new bands over bands we'd seen before. There were some great finds in the shape of the sprightly indie pop of Wolf Girl and wonderful psyche from the Liverpool trio Steeling Sheep (who I had tried to see a few times). However my highlight of the Swn weekend were my favourite Cardiff band Truckers of Husk. Their fiddly math rock is something to see and Rhodri Thomas might well be the best drummer I've ever seen. They are work shy though as it's only their second gig in four years. I went up and hassled the lead singer after asking if this was a return to more active duty. Alas no. Come on lads pull your finger out.
My other highlight was the reformed mcclusky. I never realised how truly great mcclusky were until they split up, and I was a little unsure of how they'd be as it's not the original line up, more a mash up of Future of the Left the band mclusky evolved into, Future of mclusky if you will. The band were as visceral and thrilling as they'd ever been, and I did momentarily consider stage diving before just jumping around in the mosh pit with someone else who was old enough to know better. Boy I suffered for it the next day though, I was full of a cold which added to a little hangover created a world of misery.
I had recovered enough to consider going to see Teleman who were playing in the Globe around the corner from me. I was in two minds about going, but as cycled back from work I went past the venue so I asked what time the headliners would be on, 9:30pm, larvely, so I popped along after a bit of pottering around. It was packed which I was pleased about and I bumped into the lovely Zoe Philpott who was a little giggly courtesy of some free Procescco. Coming into the the gig late was great cause there was no screwing around and Teleman were on just ten minutes after I'd entered the Globe. It was one of those great gigs which remind you just exactly why you like a band. Teleman seemed to have upped their game since I saw them three years ago (?) in the Fleece in Bristol. Not that they weren't great even then, but they seemed to have stepped it up and are a really tight live band. I particularly liked their track 'I'm Not in Control' a Krautrock stomper which is a bonus track on the CD from the first album.
I didn't fancy drinking but I think I was on my own on that score. The Cardiff crowd were well refreshed, some spectacularly so. An honourable mention must go to the pissed up couple who were stood infront infront of the speakers talking and a'snoggin. Impressive. Sometimes I can be a bit grumpy with a pissed up crowd but everyone was in such a good mood, the band were on top form and so I enjoyed the atmosphere and went with the flow. It did help that I only had a five minute walk back to my house after the gig.
I had purposely gone with little cash so that I wouldn't buy any merchandise, but they were soooo good, and being the eternal fanboy they had the irresistible promise of signed albums and they were taking cards. The card machine didn't work, so I dashed out to get some cash, it was only when I was outside that I realised that I'd taken an album and t-shirt with me, but I did go back inside and pay the band!
I didn't think that I'd be going to 'An Evening with Kristin Hersh' last week because I'd blithely said that it wouldn't sell out which it promptly did. It was unusual for a gig at Clwb Ifor as it was all seated so space was at more of a premium. I kicked myself and just chalked it up to experience. Then a week before the gig I put a call out on Facebook asking if anyone could get me in while not expecting to get anything from it when Graf from Spillers replied and said that they'd released more tickets! Great! I met up with my mate Steve Dixon. It t'was a very civilized affair, the crowd were a more - ahem - seasoned bunch and there was no support so Kristin was on at 8ish.
It wasn't just the seated arrangement which made the gig unusual. Between numbers Kristin was reading from her new book and read extracts from a book about her friendship with the musician Vic Chesnutt. In other hands the swap between prouse and music might have been jarring, but it worked well on the night. It reminded me that I've got to check out more of her stuff as I recognized one or two things and loved the tracks she played off - possibly my favorite album ever, certainly top three - 'Hips and Makers'.
I'd taken my copy of 'Hips and Maker's and her first book 'Paradoxical Undressings' to get signed but I completely screwed up my chance when I misunderstood the very plain instruction of handing the stuff over to the merchandise lady. I walked away disappointed at having missed my opportunity, but bless him Steve passed a free print he'd been given on to me, lovely man. A wonderfully civilized evening.