Social Experiment hit the stage at the early time of seven-fifteen due to Cardiff seemingly giving up its city to the busiest night in a long time as the Stadium Across the road having seventy thousand petrol heads in for a show but the clued in people of South Wales braved the gridlock for the main event happening on one side of Womanby Street. Puddle is quite the striking frontman with his wonderfully pert mowhawk as he belted out the words to their songs stalking the front of the stage like a caged beast the four-piece sound tight and deliver their hardcore punk with gusto. Tackling social issues and hammering out tracks drawn from their most excellent album ‘Rumours Of Our Demise Are Not Greatly Exaggerated’. The only local boys on tonight’s bill kick things off with a really impressive set they’re hard to ignore and certainly prove to be a tasty chaser for tonights session.
Rich Ragany and The Digressions have battled horrendous motorway traffic and vuvuzela brandishing speedway maniacs to make their Welsh debut tonight. So, after all that just as they launch into the sublime late summer sounds of ‘Little Let Down’ and guitarist Gaff’s amp decides to go up in flames, I must admit my heart kind of sinks a little bit for them.
Fear not though (power)pop pickers as after a quick on-stage tactical reshuffle this little hiccup is quickly put to one side and the remaining Digressers set about delivering a finely woven set of songs largely drawn from the ‘Like We’ll Never Make It’ album, Rich’s debut solo release.
Highlights? Well, there’s the rambunctious ‘Scotty Thompson’ which crops up mid-set, which is a song that could very easily out Cockney tonight’s headliners in its composition. Then there’s the bristling energy of ‘Your Distance’ where Rich along with rhythm guitarist Kit Swing combine their voices to lift even the hardest of hearts in attendance tonight.
Having already supported the likes of alt-rock legends The Lemonheads and The Rolling Stones buddies The Dirty Strangers it’s easy to see why Rich Ragany and The Digressions have such a broad church appeal and I must admit I was enjoying myself so much along with most of the rest of the audience that I didn’t really scribble down anything else. Then again isn’t this what Saturday nights are supposed to be all about?
With the good decision to take this to the main room it was time for headliners The Bar Stool Preachers to stand tall and show the good people of this city exactly what all the fuss is about. Without fanfare they didn’t so much hit the stage but gave it a right seeing to with a size ten. The energy and enjoyment oozing from the band is a joy to see and they waste no time at all winning the crowd over who have come to dance and have a seriously good time.
Without the blink of an eye this (now) five piece really work the stage and audience alike and their love of the music wins over even the hardest cynic and with ‘One Fool Down’ coming fairly early on in the set is a real blast. There are plenty of people singing every word as the songs from their first two studio albums get peeled off the bands hard work ethic is really paying off as they might be a guitar lite they are still tighter than a pair of soaking wet rizlas the three out front lock-in and move like its been choreographed or rather a well-oiled machine who’ve toured their backsides off in Europe and America over the last few years.
There was time for a few new songs as well which even on first or second time of hearing already sound like the band has taken another step up the ladder thats not to say songs of the first two are weak because they are absolutely not but this is shaping up to be next level stuff. older sounds are welcomed like old mates songs like ‘Ballad Of The M1’ and ‘Start New’ are fresh and ‘DLTDHYOTWO’ sounded magnificent and Tom was (Bar Stool) preaching to converted as he expressed his feelings towards the current unwanted encombant of Number 10. It’s great to hear a band so driven and right up for it and bloody well enjoying every second of their journey and its a journey I’m more than happy to jump on board with. One of the best bands the UK has to offer right now and if you get the chance to see them play a club show anytime soon then take it because when the next album comes out you’ll be having to see them headline venues the size of the University across town and who knows from there.
One of the most enjoyable night’s entertainment for a long long time with three quite different bands but all with a common bond – they love music and play with their hearts on their sleeves and leave nothing behind (well apart from a Bass guitar), They have something to say and say it well – with passion, conviction and enthusiasm that’s infectious and great to see.
This was The Bar Stool Preachers third time in South Wales and their first headline show and they totally owned it and looked so comfortable like they’d been headlining for years and years. Come the revolution if there’s to be a soundtrack then these boys will provide it.
Author: Dom Daley & Johnny Hayward (who reviewed Rich Ragany)