Tommy’s Bar is a shrine to Cardiff’s art college indie scene. Luminaries such as Adam from Smokehand and Graf from Gindrinker adorn the walls, the ghosts of a thousand Family shows hang from the ceiling. Tonight the legendary venue is, ummm, really fucking empty. Yet about 120 degrees. I am sweating. Lager is £1.75 a pint though so it’s not all bad.
The Method used to be called The Rhythm Method. Shit name but they did have a knack of getting a sticker on every condom machine in Cardiff. Respect. They started like an Us And Us Only era Charlatans and Ocean Colour Scene hybrid. With trumpets. I began to sweat more. I needn’t have stripped to the waste though, they found their groove as the set went on.
Despite, or possibly because of the totally static crowd, they began to loosen up and feel the funk. Yeah, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not Parliament/Funkadelic, their Myspace genre of Garage / Psychedelic / Soul doesn’t even touch upon ‘the funk’, Foley told me they were funk though and he knows his shit. Also, I’m easily led. Their soulypsychfunkgarage failed to move any feet though. Not even their singer’s attempts to wander the room while his microphone lead was well and truly wrapped around it’s stand could raise a shuffle. Over to you Jimmy Watkins…
Watkins has a hat on. A very bright hat. If I was involved in a train crash and the glow sticks were fucked, I’d pick him up and lead my fellow passengers to safety. The rest of him (and everyone else) is clad head to toe in denim. As always. Tonight Harry has wheeled out a denim tie. Special. Foley is on his bass podium. There is an armchair on stage. Four people look on expectantly.
WHERE ARE ALL THE MOTHERFUCKING FAT GIRLS AT?!
And so begins ‘The Ballad Of John Rostron’. The crowd doubles. OK, that’s still not a massive audience but statistically that’s an impressive percentage rise. Jimmy then drags one eighth (you liking this percentage fans?) of the crowd onto the stage and into the armchair. The interview gets as far as ‘so, what’s your name?’ before the singer loses interest and hammers into the next song, leaving his victim sat on stage.
You never really know what you’re going to get at a Strange News gig. Aside from the regular starting point of double denim and bass podiums, I’ve seen broken guitars, new members added mid-gig, men in pants, crying, a possible mental breakdown and a story about being chased down Queen Street by a man with a dildo which was told by an audience member. They are an entertaining band. They are also a very good one. They started life sounding a bit White Stripes, went a bit mclusky and have come out the other end sounding like a fucking good rock band with a point to prove. Whether Watkins joining Future Of The Left has had an impact on his song writing is open to debate but that band’s urgency and lack of waste are present and correct. Short, sharp guitar riffs, sharper lyrics. This is Jimmy’s band and his time to shine. Whether the venue is full or they’re playing to 8 confused students, they’ll still tear the venue a new ring piece.
The set ends with Mark Foley taking lead vocals on ‘Oh My God, They’ve Given Me The Suburbs’. I’m guessing this was a spur of the moment decision. They normally are. Either way, of the ten people that are in the room by the end, 90% are clapping. The other 10% was hastily tapping notes into his phone so that he could write this review in varying person tense so that more people could clap in future. Give a man a fish and all that…