Review: Green Man Festival 2016 – “The quality of the music, like the incessant Welsh rain, continues to be in unlimited supply”

Published on AfterDark (3 Sept 2016) – click here to access article

See all photos by Nick Evans for AfterDark here

Dean Hodge reviews some of the acts from this year’s Green Man Festival held on 18 – 21 August 2016. (Photography by Nick Evans)

Photo: Nick Evans.

Photo: Nick Evans.

Having become anointed with the unique charms of Green Man Festival last year, a return was definitely on the cards for me this year. It is quite clear on my second visit that some things simply don’t change at Green Man 2016 – one of them being the incessant Welsh rain (lots of it) which has seemingly become a permanent staple on the annual line-up. Thankfully, neither has the quality of the music – which this year, like the downward water that falls out of the sky here, is in unlimited supply.

Having finally arrived and set up camp on Thursday – on what is a once-in-a-blue-moon dry day in the Brecon Beacons – I make my way to the front of the Far Out tent, which is probably not the most ideal place for the more passive gig-consumer given that the next band to play are capable of bringing bears out of slumber with their cacophony of noise. Continue reading

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Live review: The Bluetones – TramShed, Cardiff, 19 April – “The band raise a gin and bluetonic to twenty years since their soaring debut”

The Bluetones TramShed 1 (Copyright Nick Evans)

Published on AfterDark (21 April 2016)

Dean Hodge reviews the band’s Cardiff leg of their ‘Jukebox’ 20th anniversary tour, at the recently opened TramShed venue (support from The Standard Lamps). Photography: Nick Evans.

For a band often considered part of the blossoming Britpop scene of the mid-1990’s, The Bluetones were far more inspired by the harmony-laden guitar-pop of 60’s US West Coast bands such as The Byrds, than by the British songbook circa-Kinks and Small Faces that informed the sound of much of their peers.  But timeless singles such as Slight Return and Bluetonic have ingrained themselves in the psyche of many of those who were in their twenties when the band started, as well as those lucky enough to discover them since.

Having initially parted ways, the band have reformed for a one-off tour as they raise a gin and ‘bluetonic’ to twenty years since the band’s inception and the release of their soaring debut album Expecting To Fly – an often overlooked, but scarcely overpraised, classic from the 1990’s British indie scene.

Their return to Cardiff coincides with the recent arrival of the ambitious TramShed venue in Cardiff, which in a short space of time has established itself as an integral part of the Cardiff music scene, filling the gap for a suitable ‘medium-sized venue’ that Cardiff has lacked for so long. Its thousand-strong capacity makes it suitable for housing the audience for this gig – albeit many of whom are in their late 30’s to 40’s and whose youth was fortunately soundtracked by the Britpop era. Continue reading

All Change 20 Years On: AfterDark’s Dean Hodge Talks With Cast’s John Power

CAST PRESS SHOT JULY 2015

Published on AfterDark (21 July 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge spoke to the Cast frontman before their performance at The Globe in Cardiff on July 2. (Photo: Kate Swerdlow)

This year sees Britpop titans Cast hitting the road once again, twenty years on from the release of their 1995 magnum opus All Change. To mark this special anniversary the band are currently embarking on a forty-date UK tour, which will culminate in a special live performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday 5th December 2015 at the historic Liverpool Philharmonic Hall – tickets for which are currently on sale now. Frankly, such a music milestone merits a finale of fitting finesse.

Their recent performance at The Globe in Cardiff (with Houdini Dax on support duties) came on the eve of the 20th anniversary of their debut single Fine Time being released – a mantra to the unbounded positivity and invincibility of youth , laced with the melodic hooks that would go on to make Cast one of the shining lights of the burgeoning Britpop scene.

Due to the busy summer traffic on the same day as their Cardiff show, the Liverpudlian group arrive later than usual and pull up outside the tiny venue just as rain showers give way to sun, and a heatwave begins to seep into the confined setting of The Globe.

Despite having to rush to unload their gear and prepare for their soundcheck, lead singer and chief songwriter John Power finds enough time to invite AfterDark’s Dean Hodge into the backstage room for a cup of tea and a quick chat. Read the full interview here in which John talks about reforming Cast, the band’s breakthrough at the peak of the Britpop explosion, the release of All Change and what fans can expect on the upcoming tour. Continue reading

Live review – Cast, The Globe, Cardiff, 2 July 2015 – ‘A stark reminder that they have lost none of their magic touch two decades on’

Published on AfterDark (15 July 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews Cast’s performance in The Globe in Cardiff (with support from Houdini Dax).

CAST

Britpop titans Cast marked their return to Cardiff in fine style within the dense musical hive of The Globe. Their return tour coincides with twenty years since the release of their inaugural album All Change, an undisputed classic of the 1990’s British indie scene that cemented the Liverpudlian band as one of the shining jewels in the Britpop crown, and earmarked frontman and The La’s alumni John Power as a songwriting force to be reckoned with. Furthermore, their Cardiff gig came on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the debut single release that kicked it all off for them – the ageless paean to limitless positivity Fine Time.

A full-capacity audience greeted their welcome return, standing as testament to the band’s enduring popularity and the timeless appeal of their impressive canon of anthems. There was a mix of generations old and new, from people who have followed the band from the beginning, to new fans discovering them for the first time. Continue reading

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge Talks With Super Furry Animals’ Cian Ciarán – ‘The shows have sold really well so the pressure is on to deliver’

Cian Ciaran

Published on Cardiff AfterDark (30 Apr 2015)

This coming Friday in Cardiff marks the comeback of arguably one of its most revered exports – as 90’s psych-indie kings Super Furry Animals grace the Cardiff University Great Hall on May 1.

With a sell-out crowd awaiting the return of the Welsh rock icons, not an ounce of the huge sense of anticipation is lost over SFA member/synth maestro Cian Ciarán. Yet he shrugs off any nerves in his imitable laid-back, unassuming manner.

As if returning to duties as the synth wizard of SFA for their first UK tour in six years wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he has many other things to keep him occupied – he is currently touring with his new band Zefur Wolves (with his partner Estelle Ios among the line-up) in promotion of their self-titled debut album released earlier this month, and a solo album coinciding with the general election is set for release this summer. Continue reading