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We Are The Afterglow/Dead Shed Jokers/Jemma Roper/General Jumbo/Them Dead Beats/Heavy Flames - Cardiff, Undertone Basement - 25th January 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Richards   
Saturday, 02 February 2013 03:00

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There are just no good bands out there nowadays, nothing; we’ve all heard that sorry, tired cliché countless times I bet. Thing is, if you’re a regular at these hallowed pages then you’ll know this boring short sightedness is not only untrue, you’ll know that uttering such a sentence is actually an act of hot air expulsion comparable only to that of a flatulent, post curry Russell Grant in a bubble bath. For sure everyone in Undertone, the tiny darkened dungeon-like basement of Cardiff’s 10 Feet Tall club, did on this Friday night; that’s way they braved the torrents that heralded the beginning of the ‘big thaw’ after a week of menacing snow fall, to catch a glimpse, and have a dance to, some of South Wales’ most exciting and eclectic young rock ‘n’ roll bands.

 

With such an ambitiously packed bill it was almost inevitable one would miss at least some of the action, but I made damn sure to get there to catch Aberdare’s finest purveyors of heavy phsychedelia, Heavy Flames. A fine band I have had the pleasure of seeing a number of times this last year, and a band that never, ever disappoint. Rampaging slickly and without phase, the band barely take a breath as they pummel through a groove heavy set featuring the monstrous 'Speak of the Devil' and the infectious, and appropriately titled 'Mosquito Bite' the band delivered seamlessly in their perfect, if compact set. Put them on your list folks.

 

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Them Dead Beats were a new one on me, sharp suited, r’n’b rocking rolling mother fuckers with a tune for every second of their set. A three man riot of cool, they twisted ferociously through an exhilarating forty minutes that was drenched in the purist bar room sweat of the Feelgoods, all extenuated by a frontman playing an irresistible guitar line somewhere between Brian Setzer and Steve Jones. General Jumbo arrived, further emphasising the wonderfully eclectic and friendly nature of the line-up. They continued the exciting retro-cool of their predecessors, taking it a touch more Matt-Bianco at times, but seriously, who can resist a band with a double bass? It’s a winning formula, make no mistake.

 

With the evening inevitably beginning to over-run, the band I’ve made no secret of my unashamed man love for this last year, Dead Shed Jokers, are forced to concede their spot as second to last band on. Yet taking a slightly earlier stage time should not, and indeed does not make a difference whatsoever to a band of this quality, and indeed they turn in a faultless set, simply brimming with the growing confidence of a band who are inevitably realising that they really are, that good. Terrific tunes from the amazing debut album 'Peyote Smile' are tossed in the air for target practice and joyously blasted into fantastic tiny pieces without a seconds thought for anyone’s safety, and a couple of newbies make an appearance to fill this music lover with joy at the prospect of a second album making its way into our world soon. Dead Shed Jokers are, for my money, probably the most perfect alternative rock band on the scene, and surely the whole world will realise this soon; amazing players with amazing songs and totally without even the tiniest whiff of pretension at all, which brings me to Jemma Roper.

 

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I’m not sure if it’s the name of the frontwoman or the name of the band, but the art-rock four piece probably never felt more at home than they did in the basement surroundings of this evening, as they invoked a true ‘70s New York party feel as they delivered their Pixies meets Talking Heads inspired indie hipster-isms into the early hours to give the night a truly surreal feel; they exuded the whiff of gentle arrogance that a band of their genre truly needs, and it was warmly received. It was in stark contrast to Dead Shed Jokers cage rattling, mind bending riffage, but still totally in context with the feel, and triumphalism of an evening such as this.

 

The trouble with joyousness of course, is the fact that it cannot continue endlessly, not without a rest that is, and certainly not for a 42 year old chancer trying to capture the spirit of real, current youth culture for your reading pleasure, and certainly not when he’s been sipping Belgian beer that looks like it could have been ladled from a rain water butt hidden behind the bar, for the better part of 6 hours. This was of course to be the reason I had to sadly retire barely minutes into a headline set from the genuinely wonderful, and handsome men that make up We Are The Afterglow, the organisers of the whole shebang. As they launched into their enthusiastic set which, from what I caught, was swarming with early Chili Pepper-isms, I had to leave them and their guests just as the rest of the party was finding a second wind that would enable them to dance through the night with a band perfectly suited to such a frivolous, youthful act, to scamper through the city streets in the still flourishing, heavy rain inspired thaw, simultaneously damning my limited stamina, marvelling at the amazing bands I’d witnessed, and looking forward to a warm drink and a cosy bed. No good bands anymore? What a load of bollocks.

 

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[Photos by Paul Scott Thomas]