On Tuesday night, hometown heroes The Fused and Amber returned from a four night UK run to deliver their blistering rock and roll back in Cardiff. But it wasn’t just any old show back in the ‘diff to round the tour off, it was a sold out, packed to the rafters, sweat box of a show in the beloved Clwb Ifor Bach.
With an electric atmosphere right from the get go, the opening support Chapel Row set the bar higher than I expected, their songs packed with attitude and grit, it was all about plugging in, cranking it and playing loud. The three piece were tight and the great chemistry between the lads was on display throughout the entire set, but the real show stopper for me was front man Diggs Galliers voice. I stood at the bar and watched critically as the band opened, wary of what to expect, but the second Diggs opened his mouth I was floored. The guy blew the room apart, the type of voice that sounded as if his morning routine was a shot of whiskey and a pack of 20 Benson & Hedges before he got out of bed. Without making the cliché welsh comparison, the resemblance to Kelly Jones’ of the Stereophonics was uncanny, and that classic rock and roll sound had me hooked the whole time.
They ripped and roared through a lightning quick set, back to back anthems, many of the songs garnering a political theme in the lyrics. ‘She Knows’ was a stand-out track for me and has had me humming the chorus hook almost a week after the gig. If you’re after some top quality, no nonsense rock then Chapel Row should not be missed.
The second band of the night were We Are Parkas, and as the name might suggest their sound lent itself to a Britpop vibe, similarities to The Courteeners and Kasabian were clear. As the band took to the stage I was hoping not to see yet another band trying to follow in the footsteps of groups such as Oasis and The Stone Roses. A gripe of mine with the latest wave of Brit-pop revival is the saturation of bands and stale sound of the genre that is here today from the likes of The Sherlocks etc., almost two decades on from its defiant day in the sun. Nevertheless the band were tight and had a confident and talented frontman, belting out a fair few catchy hooks in classic “Gallagher-esque” style.
We Are Parkas definitely had the crowd in the palm of their hand throughout, though I found some of the ‘laddish’ swagger and bravado to be a bit over the top, were no longer living in an age of Nuts Magazine and Football Factory and it just seemed dated at times. As the set went on they definitely played to their strengths more, some of the tracks had a really upbeat indie pop vibe, similar to that of Foals and The Maccabees. Watching the second half of the set was like a flick of the switch for me, the band just seemed more at home with a very rhythmic and dance orientated vibe, a stronger direction for them that seemed more natural and enjoyable. Regardless they seemed to go down a storm with the local indie fans.
After a short while between bands the atmosphere was absolutely buzzing, and as The Fused who everyone had been anticipating strapped on their guitars, the typical carnage of a Fused show ensued. The entire club felt like a whirlwind of moshing, lager and arms flying everywhere. And even though the band’s first two tracks were unreleased they were bursting with energy and managed to pump up the crowd to new heights. As usual The Fused played some classic tunes that are fan favourites at this point like “Are You Ready for a Dance?” and “Bouncer” which went down a storm as always. It’s great to see a band from Cardiff have a real local following behind them that can’t wait to get down to shows and hear new music, something that is seemingly becoming rarer and rarer.
New songs “Shakespearean Taunt”, a satirical view of the very unpopular prime minister Theresa May, as well as “CCTV”, were brilliant and some of the strongest I’ve heard from the band so far. Their song writing craft seems to have only improved every time I get the chance to see them. Closing the set off with a cover of “The Hunter” by Slaves and their latest single “Take It or Leave Me” left a euphoric feeling amongst fans who just yelled for more from the band. A victorious and worthy return to their home town only to be followed by fellow Welshmen and tour mates AMBER.
AMBER have that traditional rock and roll ferocity to them but bring much more than that to the table, their ear piercingly loud anthems are washed out with elements of psychedelia from time to time provided by their amazing guitarist Tom Innes blistering wall of sound. I could almost hear influences from Primal Screams early material and the first Stone Roses EP in their music which I loved.
Though they seemed to draw a slightly lesser crowd than co-headliners The Fused they took it in their stride and put on seriously killer show. There was crowd surfing and moshing galore, and lead single “Dublin” was perhaps the best performance of the entire night. Topping things off with a Rage against the Machine classic, “Killing in the Name” it was a raucous end to a gig to remember.
-Words by Gavin Owen
Photography: Rhys Skinner