Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Buffalo Bill And The Indie'Uns

Midori Hirano/Gnu And The Shrew/Muarena Helena, Buffalo Bar, Windsor Terrace, Cardiff, Thursday April 2 2009, 8.30pm.

Your chaotic correspondent has been threatening to make a Loose night in Cardiff for some time, and finally got his act together to make this eclectic and engaging bill, albeit one artiste short with the disappointing absence of Lily Green with throat problems. When in Cardiff, use your Brains, so your ruddy-cheeked rogue sampled some of the brewery's ales in a few local taverns beforehand, the pick being the Reverend James as available in the best of the bars, The Cottage, on St. Mary's Street.

All this exhaustive research already had your stewedshrewd scribe in a jolly mood by the time he made it upstairs at the popular Buffalo Bar, further enhanced by seeing the lovely Liz Hunt from The School on the door, dispensing some Parma Violets and a free compilation CD as she ushered your timeous tinker into the venue to catch the opening moments of East London's Muarena Helena. They're a good introduction to the evening's entertainment, as they combine folk, classical and rock instrumentation but with enough added edge and strangeness to offer a frisson of curious menace to proceedings. Sample song title: Gangland Hand Gesture, so listen to your creaking consigliore when he says watch out for this lot.

Duo Gnu And The Shrew hail from Manchester, and come to Cardiff fresh from Marc Riley's seal of approval on his 6Music show. 'Look at the scary puppets!' points out Liz, as the pair not only deal with found sounds but also a fascinating, mottley collection of vintage/retro bric-a-brac including the afore-mentioned finger furniture. Singer Jennifer Kay has a rasping delivery which may prove an acquired taste, but for your intrigued interloper added to the sense of theatrical oddness that give their predominantly acoustic ditties a distinctive appeal. CD 'Time For Tea', on sale at the gig for a mere six quid, is definitely worth rummaging for, with 'Gasboard Fraud' and 'Bingo' standing out on first few listens.

Headliner Midori Harano is a petite Japanese solo musician whose made her home amidst the electronic scene in Berlin. She offers predominantly keyboard music which produces pretty, pastoral, hazy soundscapes but with enough beats and glitches to add some swooning movement to the ambient electronica. Midori had also arrived in Cardiff entirely free of entourage, which made me rather fancifully think of her like a William Gibson character, a tough cookie in vulnerable guise, trotting the globe with her particular brand of techno-alchemistry. The result was even more intoxicating than the Brains' beers.

In conclusion, a roaring success for Loose, with three apparently very different acts making some logical connections with each other, a friendly, civilised vibe permeating throughout and all the artists concerned proving approachable, even to your Brains-dead blogger's blether!

Next day, had another wander around Cardiff before heading home, getting an 'above-par' cappuccino in Starbucks, taking a walk up and down the impressively reconstructed Roman castle that is slap-bang in the city centre (the audioguide is voiced by the BBC's Huw Edwards) and sampling the Wheat Ale at the nearby Zero Degrees microbrewery that is located opposite from the Millenium Stadium. Don't think it'll be too long before your restless rascal will be gig-going in this neck of the woods again.

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Blogger Ben said...

Still not been round the castle - poor form.

Look out for Zero Degrees in Bristol when you're there for Dot-to-Dot - it's perched on the hill up to Clifton, near the Christmas Steps.

What did you make of the venue, then? (Though of course you've got nothing to compare the revamped place to...)

12:15 AM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Ben, the castle's worth a viewing, but if you want to climb to the top be aware the steps are both steep and narrow, so best not attempted unless in a complete state of sobriety!

As for Buffalo Bar, seemed fine to me apart from lack of draught bitter upstairs. With the L Shape of the room I would imagine if it was jam-packed it might be difficult getting a decent view from near the back, but overall I'd give it the thumbs-up.

8:52 PM  

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