A massive DIOLCH to Owain Gruffudd for covering the whole week of the Eisteddfod for Juxtapozed. I am, and you should be, eternally grateful. Not only did he manage to capture the sound of the festival in 140 characters at a time, he made my fomo chronic. Owain has just started his own brilliant blog about the scene called O’r Dorf- take a look!
What a week! The highlight of the Welsh music calendar finally arrived, and, for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. Packed out with top bands – both well established and exciting new talent – I was well in my comfort zone, getting to see live music throughout the week. It was great to be tweeting at the event on behalf of Juxtapozed as the week went by – and now for my top 5 highlights of the week:
5. Edward H Dafis
This was the most anticipated performance of the week. According to rumours, 4,000 tickets were sold before hand for Y Maes – specifically to see the last gig for, arguably, the most popular Welsh band ever. The numbers didn’t disappoint. There was a real buzz in the air and it created a great atmosphere with the crowd, old and young, as one, singing along with most of the set.
Unfortunately one aspect of the performance was disappointing and marred the first half. The sound was quiet for the first few songs and even as this improved during the second half of the set, the general consensus was that this ruined the gig for many. In fact, I felt at times that I had to rely on the words of the crowd in front of me to hear which song was being sung.
But all in all it was a great experience for me to witness such a big crowd at a Welsh gig. The only question that stayed in my head after seeing such a big turnout was – Why do we still get disappointing numbers turning up to see today’s top bands such as Yr Ods, Sŵnami or Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog?
For me, the SRG has been crying out for a proper rock and roll band to come along in recent times. And so I introduce, Candelas. Ever since lead singer Osian Williams has switched from the drums to being the front man on the guitar, his energy on stage has injected some charisma to their live performances. Suddenly their songs sound much fuller and they’ve made plenty of people sit up and take notice with their on-stage performances. Having bought their new album just before the Eisteddfod, I found myself singing along, word by word, with most of the songs in their set.
3. Kizzy Crawford
Possibly the most exciting young talent on show at this year’s Eisteddfod. Kizzy Crawford, 17 years old, has a big future in front of her – both in Wales and beyond. She is an amazing talent – and the fact that she competed (and won!) at this year’s Battle of the Bands shows us that her feet are still planted firmly on the ground. Every single person I spoke to who managed to catch her performances were stunned with how mature and melodic her songs were. I would strongly recommend anyone to take up any opportunity to see her live – you will not be disappointed!
2. Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog
Personally, I think Cowbois are fantastic musicians, with brilliant songs and are top professionals when on stage. The only doubt in my mind before their Maes B performance on the Thursday was the reaction of the crowd. Their last album, Draw Dros y Mynydd, was pretty low tempo and an easy listen and I have seen bands that have similar vibes failing to impress the young crowd at Maes B. But I think it is a testament to the band that their performance still managed to grab the attention of the drunk teenagers – who usually only take notice of anyone with catchy pop songs.
1. Geraint Jarman
The Godfather of Welsh Music never fails to impress. After a faultless performance at Caernarfon Castle last month, I didn’t think he could top that performance. How wrong could I be?
With a top quality band to support him, including Pendulum’s Peredur ap Gwynedd, the Town Hall crowd were jumping up and down in unison with the reggae beat. The venue was literally moving – thanks to a combination of the crowd’s dancing and the suspension floor at the Town Hall! Jarman himself has such an aura about him on stage – personally, I haven’t seen any frontman that always looks so cool – even if he is in his 60s! Dare I suggest that he is my punt for a headlining slot at next year’s Maes B? We’ll have to wait and see.
A full review of this year’s Eisteddfod will be featured in the next edition of Barn magazine. Otherwise you can check out my personal blog at www.ordorf.wordpress.com