My first gig in the Tramsheds since lockdown restrictions have been lifted in Wales. I really like the venue and the sound is usually very good irrespective of the genre of music.
I had seen two-thirds of these bands previously – The Wildhearts at Steelhouse and Syteria at The Dragonffli), but I’ve never seen the Bristol-based septet Adam And The Hellcats (yes there were seven of them spread across the stage). Whilst this gives the band room, it is difficult to light both wings of the stage, so the keyboard and rhythm guitar players were almost in constant darkness. Maybe this is an issue the venue need to consider if bands are going to spread across the stage.
Anyhow, after a brief comedic introduction from the Omid Djalili look alike (a fact recognised by the man himself) that is Pete K Malley, Adam and his Hellcats hit the stage to ‘What’s New Pussycat’: where else could they get away with playing it and asking the audience to join in other than southeast Wales?
A set full of punky/energetic tracks followed in quick succession. Kicking off ‘She’s A Vampire’ with judicious use of the cowbell it’s a solid intro to the band and album (‘Claws Out’), even if it has a bit of a ‘Rocky Horror Show’ sound to it. ‘Queen & Country’ is even more upbeat as a criticism of the support given to armed forces who are trying to establish law and order in countries who frequently don’t want them there. ‘Bending The Knee’ takes a swipe at the attempts to erase history and was sung by Cirwen Farrant, the female lead vocalist, with its heavily bass driven to add counterpoint to the high range of the vocals. ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’ is a more guitar driven track and has a slight Quo feel to it, with vocals shared by Adam and Cirwen and the chorus being a bit punkier.
‘Traitor’ has Farrant screaming the lyrics over a bass/drum rhythm before a good solo at the breakdown. ‘Cover Band’ takes a side swipe at the tendency for certain artists to get their songs written by someone else as they don’t have the talent to write their own – hence the title. ‘Before The Bomb’ is another guitar driven track with the vocals shared, but mainly led by Cirwen; I actually quite like the instrumentation on this track. ‘Spice of Life’ has a familiar tune to it, but I can’t quite put my finger on where from, and appears to be about relationships. ‘Welcome To The Madhouse’ has an eerie start to it before Cirwen’s high soprano voice and the instrumentation leads into Adam’s rap-like vocals carrying the rest of the song, before they finish off with ‘The Ballad of Mary Jane’ about an old “girlfriend”: an upbeat punky rhythm carries the track along from beginning to end.
All in all, an interesting set of songs that can entertain any crowd. Well done, I enjoyed it.
Syteria are the latest mainly female band formed by ex- Girlschool guitarist Jax Chambers, with Julia Calvo on vocals and second guitar, her brother Pablo on drums and Steph Dawson (ex Scream of Sirens) on bass. As mentioned above, I first saw these just before the beginning of the pandemic at my local the Dragonffli.
Kicking it off with ‘Guilty’, the upbeat and tight vocals are readily on display. ‘Sheeple’ is a kick at people who carry on with their mundane existences. ‘Revolution’ demonstrates the tight harmonies of the band while ‘Reflection’ gives Jax a chance to let her guitar do the talking with some nice playing throughout and ‘Get A Life’ again demonstrates the vocal tightness of the band especially at the end.
Comments from Julia about the potential for plastic surgery led into ‘Plastic Fantastic- unsurprisingly, a criticism of the need for plastic surgery. ‘Gossips’ continues to take digs at people who make others’ lives hard. ‘I’m All Woman’ is another track that demonstrated the guitar of Jax as well as the continued vocal display. ‘Hypocrite’ became a singalong at the chorus and the crowd joined in well. ‘New World Order’ criticizes the current political control and tries to encourage everyone to wake up to it. ‘Make Some Noise’ finished the set, and by this time the audience had really begun to enjoy the set and demonstrated this by joining in with the hook. Another good evening spent in the presence of good musicians. If you haven’t heard of Syteria get onto Spotify… but don’t try asking it to play Syteria – I got “Syria” and other combinations!
The Wildhearts passed me by in the ‘90s but having seen them three times in the past two years I am becoming a bit of a fan. The sets have always been full of energy and this one didn’t disappoint. Ginger, CJ and Rich giving all the energy and Danny as laid back as the late John Entwistle providing the calming stability on the bass.
After ripping his in ear monitors out after the first song, Ginger settled in and really began to enjoy the set. He even said that after the festivals that this was the first night on the tour and he was glad it was happening in Cardiff. With the crowd joining in on almost every song he said it felt like he was performing in their bedroom not on stage. The crowd were lapping up every riff and at one point almost established a mosh pit in front of the stage.
Kicking off with ‘Diagnosis’ from ‘Renaissance Men’ rapidly led into ‘Vanilla Radio’ and ‘Sick of Drugs’ and the crowd were loving it. ‘Remember These Days’ from ‘21st Century Love Songs’ was enthusiastically received, and Ginger seemed impressed that the crowd knew it well enough to join in – not a bad effort Cardiff, as the album had only been released the day of the gig. Just to help, ‘Caffeine Bomb’ exploded all over the place; The Revolution Will Be Televised’, ‘Dislocated’ and ‘Splitter’ followed in quick succession.
The crowd were in full voice for ‘Let Em Go’ and ‘Mazel Tov’, and by this point nothing was going wrong. ‘Caprice’ was unexpected, as it was much heavier than the rest of the set: but hey that’s Ginger and The Wildhearts always throwing curveballs into the mix.
Then the obligatory pretend to finish and come back on for an encore of ‘Inglorious’ and the two Wildhearts anthems of ‘Sucker Punch’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ and everyone joined in. A really breathless 90 minutes was had by all. I’m sure the rest of the tour will be equally well received as it was in Cardiff. As we say in South Wales: “That was crackin’ butt!”
- The tour continues: