Gwenno at Ty Pawb

Support: Seazoo| Hood Flair | Eitha Da
April 7, 2018 at Ty Pawb
Promoter: Focus Wales

Tonight’s venue, Ty Pawb, Wrexham’s flagship new Arts Hub may have attracted many a debate upon social media with arguments ranging from “why do we need an Arts Hub?”, “the money could have been spent better elsewhere…”, and “what about the previous market traders…?”. The fact of the matter is that whilst these may be valid questions, they are easily addressed by “why would you not want art?”, “but the money was specifically from an arts fund?”, and “the traders weren’t doing particularly well to start with…”. In a way it becomes a microcosm of the fight for new and old venues across the country, with tonight being something of a celebration as Welsh Music Prize winner Gwenno takes to the stage for its inaugural music event.

Ty Pawb is much more than a music venue though, although tonight it does play host to promoters Focus Wales who have pulled together a supporting line-up that manages to reflect the many different facets of music on offer in Wrexham. From krautrock-infused psych, experiments in drone, and wonky indie pop, there is something for everyone, showing that whilst arguments may remain over the cultural necessity of such a place, there is no shortage of talent to highlight the opposite. Time will tell though, and for the moment we are here, waiting for Gwenno.

Arriving to the back end of Cull, one of the more interesting bands to emerge from Wrexham in recent times, their repetitive Can influenced riffs make for a rather exciting start. Pulling a good-sized crowd considering the early evening start, they win over more than a few listeners with their bedraggled style. Certainly ones to watch, and with an excellent debut album already available, the future could be there’s for the taking.

Following the theme of ramshackle psych, Eitha Da is the solo project if Mowbird member Ben Dempsey Sawin. Channelling a keen ear for the garage rock of Ty Segall and King Gizzard, the songs are complemented by a full band. Highlights are ‘Ice Scream, You Scream, We All Scream’, ‘Prism’ and later on an unexpected cover of ‘Bad Moon Rising’. The songs may be short and sweet but they have a habit of sticking around in your head for days after.

Meanwhile over in the Flexible Space there is music of a more experimental nature. Taking a night off from Gallops duties, Mark Huckridge, under the guise of his solo project Hood Flair, has teamed up with Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard vocalist Jessica Ball, who has brought along her cello. Performing an extended piece of drone with treated cello, its an extraordinary sound which fills the cavernous space of the old market hall. It’s an interesting contrast and becomes a kind of symbolic metaphor for the change that the venue has undergone. The humming drone and cello become the murmuring sound of past voices, ghosts of visitors past, but also inviting in new visitors.

Of course, that could all be a result of the remarkable music playing tricks on the mind, and after a short break its over to the main Performance Space again to catch up with Seazoo. Coming in off the back of their new album Trunks, and a countrywide tour, their brand of wonky indie pop, infused with fuzzy guitars is tightly honed to perfection. They attract a large crowd and with songs such as ‘Roy’s World’ and ‘Telephone Jones’ they capture everyone’s hearts and minds. With a summer of festivals, and radio play over on 6 Music, Seazoo really can’t do anything wrong at the moment. They are living proof that hard work can pay off in the music industry, and it couldn’t go to a more deserving band.

“I have never felt as happy as I have in this place…” exclaims Gwenno Saunders as she takes to the stage, and with a crowd hanging off her every word, who can blame her. Arriving on the back of the excellent new album Le Kov, she brings both the Welsh language, and Old Cornish to Ty Pawb. A mesmerising, albeit completely disarming figure on stage, her little shimmys and shakes before picking up a tambourine to prance around the stage bring to mind a young Peter Gabriel, although if a comparison musically is to be made it would be to Gabriel’s later experimental solo stuff than his early prog. That said, with songs such as ‘Tir Ha Mor’, an electrifying ‘Jynn-amontya’ through which she references Cambridge Analytica, and ‘Eus Keus’, in which she leads the crowd in a lesson in speaking Old Cornish, there is plenty within the warm synths and probing bass to suggest an affinity with prog as a genre. Gwenno has a more modern edge though, casting her into the realm of “difficult to pigeon-hole” and she comes off better for it. The set may only be an hour long but by the end you feel like you have witnessed something rather special and meaningful. We need more artists like this to be successful as they allow not just the music but the arts scene to flourish as well. A remarkable performance from a musician at the top of her game, and a stunning end to the first week of Ty Pawb’s existence. Based on tonight’s performances we can only hope that the venue goes against the current tide of closures and goes from strength to strength.

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