Given that this was my first live music experience back in Cardiff for over a year, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a line-up of bands that I, quite honestly, didn’t know. As I presume most music fans would in my situation, I stepped into Clwb Ifor Bach with a quiet hope that I’d come out with something as good as a new favourite band – I wasn’t disappointed.
First on the stage were Ellen & The Escapades - a fairly understated folk outfit, who didn’t look too overwhelmed by what was initially a rather small audience, but later grew to a capacity crowd. After they opened their set, I began to think they sounded a bit too alike to The Corrs for my liking, but as the set went on it was a Corrs-like sound that you would forgive. Overall, they gave a very professional and well performed set with signs that they do have potential to make it in the ever-growing contemporary folk scene of today.
Now cue my highlight of the night. When the next band, We Were Evergreen, came onto the stage I was outside and I ask for forgiveness because after going back in and presumably having missed their first song, I began to see what it was that I had missed. I can’t judge how many people have had the same feeling before, but as they worked their way through what was an overwhelmingly happy set of songs, I felt as though I should have been singing along, as though I should have known all of their songs already. The thing that I liked about these the most was their crossover between quirky, glockenspiel-and-ukulele led pop with some computerised, electro breakdowns which tied in all of their instruments and led the crowd into a bopping, nodding movement en masse. I noticed at the start of the night at their merchandise stand, their mailing list was empty – I’m willing to bet by the end of the night they had won a fair few fans (me included). These French fancies are ones to keep an eye on.
And so finally, we were greeted by the appearance of a man whose hair might outshine the man himself, King Charles, who before beginning his Cardiff-leg of the LoveBlood tour introduced a timid looking girl named Giovanna, who performed two songs – albeit two very sombre songs about a search for love. Then the main event started up and you could sense this is what everyone had really come for. As I previously mentioned, my knowledge of the bands of this gig were limited to one King Charles song, so I didn’t really know what to expect. My expectations were soon blown well wide as the band of suited musicians kicked through some chunky guitar riffs and an explosive start to the gig. From the word “go”, it was an immense set with the King leading a very enthusiastic crowd through a mix of tunes which infused guitar riffs with vocals to more delicate indie summer songs, all of which went down a treat.
My reservation about the whole over-the-top swagger that the set had was confirmed in a song about a woman who shared characteristics with a polar bear and a crocodile, but that soon dissipated as we were returned to the likes of “Love Lust”, a truly jangly, summery pop number that even got me – someone who avoids partaking in crowd clapping – doing exactly that. If anything, King Charles disproved the notion that might be held by some that indie music hasn’t got the edge of other genres, that it lacks a kick up the backside effect – whether or not he intends it, his music gives that opinion a two-fingered salute before jumping off into a brilliantly over-the-top wall of sound.
After an intense set with some very accomplished guitar-playing, King Charles and his band of musicians (who might have doubled up as the security for the night) returned to play two more songs, one of which was an audience request (“Ivory Road”) and the second was a culmination of everything good, pomp and ultimately enjoyable about this fellow’s music – definitely a top-draw example of live music.