You can’t see Cardiff from space. All this is is one set in one gig in one venue on a Sunday night when the football’s on. Such is the power of small and perfect ideas though this one set cut to the centre of my stupid psyche and made me way giddier than these old bones should theoretically get. It’s The School! Playing Ramones covers! If you don’t understand it, I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s zen. Terminally boring reasons mean half the bands are over before I get there; the rest fly past my dull face at lightspeed. Goodbye Pagan Wanderer Lu, a blur of genuine intelligence and ace mangle guitar and electronics. See you later Kutosis, riotous doublequick garage greatness and fine company for alleyway World Cup viewing. And there goes Gindrinker, still Cardiff’s finest bilious observational screed merchants. One two three four.
(Should point out here I’m trampling over a charity alldayer organised by and filled with properly decent people. Over £300 raised for Headway. Even the lucky dip was exemplary.)
Course, the Ramones is a pretty logical choice for a Stars In Their Eyes moment in this case. Jonny and the boys always were in thrall to girl group perfection and gold standard pop streamlining; The School’s classic shimmying rests on songwriting so melodically strong that no amount of restyling can worry it. So it’s ‘Rock And Roll High School’ to start with, and half an hour of gently partying brilliance. ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ and ‘Judy Is A Punk’ tumble past, Liz dropping down the vocal register and somehow getting all the words out while those three chords chug playfully around her. ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ coasts and yearns like a heartbreak. These covers get dosed by the School’s inbuilt vulnerability, hugged into sweet new shapes. It runs both ways too – School originals get a drum thump and extra layers of guitar fuzz: ‘All I Wanna Do’ is particularly zippy, all doublespeed guitar lines and toy-like bounce. The mixture of coolness and inclusive partydown, best illustrated by a string section mostly on handclaps and sass, is weirdly cheering: by the time ‘Baby, I Love You’s lap of honour struts out it’s clear how much pleasure can be wrung from simple things. A highlight of the year. Start a polite letter writing campaign to get them to do it again.