It's been a heavy month of giggage.
It kicked off on the 6th with Beyonce and Jay Z at the Millennium Stadium. It was more a Spectacle than a gig and it's fair to say I felt like a complete tourist. It was lots of fun though, it's hard not to enjoy something done on that scale and with that amount of flair. I knew about four songs though. Thought they pissed 'Crazy in Love' away. The visuals were full on with a heavy emphasis on how much in love Beyonce and Jay Z are. Thought about buying a t-shirt, but at £30 a pop they can fuck off for free.
Next up was Nadine Shah and Billy Bragg at the Millennium Centre. The opening set of this year's Festival of Voice. It's not really a festival of course and it was bad planning to put it on when there are so many other gigs happening in Cardiff. Tickets weren't cheap for the events and they should have operated some kind of wrist band system. Four gigs get one free? Still, it brings in some big names.
One of the selling points for this gig was that Nadine Shah was supporting. I'd missed her when she'd played The Globe last year and was kicking myself. She took a bit of time to find her feet, and favored a Liam Gallagher style arms behind her back stance. As the set continued she found her confidence, and the last song 'Way Out' had a Led Zep type swagger which provided the most thrilling six minutes of live music I've seen this year.
Billy Bragg was funny, engaging and utterly charming. I particularly him telling the story of being berated for using a single use water at his last Cardiff gig, only to be greeted by the person who'd called him out, again in the crowd. The big nosed bard from Barking seemed to get a bit more conciliatory when the audience member made himself known, although to Bragg's credit he had change to multi-use bottles.
The set was a heady mix of music and politics, high points included songs from his Woody Guthrie Mermaid Avenue album and of course 'New England'.
The next gig I went to was Belly with Steve Ford in the Glee Club. I'd been in the Glee the night before to see the drag artist Jinx Monsson, which was an entirely different proposition. Belly took the unusual step of having two sets and an interval. Is it because the venue usually has an interval? I preferred the second set, they were a bit less shambolic and more charming. The front row were a hardcore bunch of fans who'd contributed to a crowd funder campaign. It was a joy to see how much they were enjoying the gig and being together. When Tanya Donelly said that they were doing a song from the new album an American behind us said loudly:
"No one came to hear your new songs, we just want the old stuff." someone turned around and said:
"Shut the fuck up!"
"Don't tell me to fucking calm down."
Steve and I edged away as they started to jab fingers into each others chests. There was an odd atmosphere in the gig, somewhere between euphoria and violence which I wasn't expecting.
Two days later came an unexpected gig in the form of Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør at the New Theatre. It was part of the Festival of Voice and I was offered two free tickets. Great! Never seen a gig in the New Theatre and I have very happy memories of working there as a a barman when I was a student. I enjoyed the support band, Sian was less keen After a interval where I caught up with the talented photographer Simon Ayre it was in for the main act. I was aware of Susanne Sundfør but didn't know what to expect. It was just her and another woman accompanying her on piano and guitar. I absolutely loved it and find it impossible to describe the music without using cliched terms like 'ethereal' and 'glacial' . Great stuff and a complete contrast to the Beyonce gig exactly a week before.
Blimey, I was feeling a bit punchy the day after, it's a heavy schedule, even for me, but I was saving the best to last...