Idlewar, Scarsun & Excursia, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff
With Welsh Ragga-Punks playing a huge show in The Tramshed across town, I headed over to Cardiff's only rock club for a little bit of Southern California heavy blues. With Mrs H in tow (Mr H was in Bath for more Hawkwind) we stepped into the club that was gripped by rugby fever until after the supposed door time. Once that had finished though it did meant the band were late setting up and the doors to the performance area were swung wide open to Fuel which did mean that anyone in the club could come in to watch the show, which is a double edged sword as it meant Idlewar got a big crowd, however it also meant that those of us who paid for tickets were left a little miffed. With T-shirts and CD's purchased we watched the band soundcheck and then it was finally time for the first support about 45 minutes after the supposed door time.
The first local band on the bill were Excursia (7) a Caerphilly based modern metal band who are both ridiculously young and ridiculously talented, they seem to have started out as a covers band but it was their own material that hit home here. The music on display by these youngsters was groove-heavy heavy metal in the style of Lamb Of God, Trivium et al. A'Dan and Sam provide the thick riffs and solos as Lewis McGuire barks down the mic with Callum and Matt holding down the boiler room. The band have already secured a set at Byline Festival in August as well as gigs supporting Evyltyde, Democratus and Mentallica and this gigging shows as the band were playing at a level betraying their years. If they're this good now, how good will they be in years to come? We will have to wait and see!
Next up were the returning Scarsun (6) a band we last saw imploding on stage supporting The Answer in the Globe, since then they have changed their membership almost wholesale and this was their first show with the new line up. Unfortunately they could have had a better one as despite the tight shirted Cwmbranites pitting themselves into oblivion and two fights involving a stag-do the band played their alt-metal to a mostly disinterested audience with your writer particularly vexed by the lack of vocals, it's not that Letha Curtis wasn't singing it's that they weren't audible, at all which means I can't really give them a review properly as even with earplugs I struggled to pick them up at all, though I could hear her perfectly when she was singing. They got applause when their set concluded but it wasn't the magnificent comeback it could have been, a shame but I guess it will have to be next time now.
Now it was time for the main event all the way from Orange County, Southern California the big, bearded, heavy blues rock of Idlewar (8) was what many of us had actually come for and as soon as James Blake started beating out the thick grooves on his 8 (!) string bass it was time for him, Rick Graham (guitar) and Pete Pagonis (drums) to lock in for some of the most danceable, boogie this side of the three man boogie machine ZZ Top, in fact if you squint Idlewar could pass as the Little Ol Band From Texas in their younger days albeit with some more distorted stoner influenced riffs. With James' bass the major rhythm factor he plays both the low-grooves in a powerful duo with Pete who bangs away with power and poise but also adds depth to the guitar riffs as a rhythm guitar playing especially when Rick gets to peel off slinky solo, which does happen a lot.
This was the final show on a pretty long tour of the UK in support of their third album Fractured which was where the majority of their set was drawn from and due to the now inebriated audience and the final show excitement made for a party atmosphere of the evening that meant a lot of hard work for the photographers down the front, Cardiff on a rugby day is a challenge for natives at the best of times but the band took it in their stride, humbly thanking the crowd for coming down and even wishing an audience member happy birthday but with tracks like Stone In My Heel they brought the groove to Fuel on a Saturday evening. Mrs H was getting her groove back and the band were rocking it with style carving tight furrows bigger than the San Andreas Fault (I know that's not in Orange County Geographers). A perfect band for celebratory Saturday next time they come back to the UK I urge you to check out Idlewar.