Caerphilly Castle, Sun 14 July
Castles are great live venues. In particular, the backdrop of ancient brickwork for hi-tech visuals are great fun, and Groove Armada used the relatively small space within Caerphilly Castle’s main area to this advantage. Having taken the Sunday space following a weekend of shows here (The Zutons on Fri 12 July; Black Stone Cherry the next day), some dance music punters might have favoured a switch to either of those slots, but the school night kept many of the aging caners in check.
I hadn’t seen them live since 1999 when they supported Faithless in Cardiff Uni, but Groove Armada’s gigs are always a lively affair, even more so than their studio output would suggest. They open tonight with the bouncy The Girls Say from 2007 LP Soundboy Rock, before moving into top gear with Look Me In The Eye, Sister from 2010’s Black Light. As a predominantly live band, they run the risk of losing some of the electronic punch delivered by contemporaries like the Chemical Brothers, but by the time they get to Song 4 Mutya and Love Sweet Sound, the kickdrum had everyone throwing shapes.
A revolving door of vocalists and MCs joined them throughout, and they brought the pace down with some of their mellower catalogue, including My Friend and Cards To Your Heart. Andy Cato’s iconic trombone loops for At The River got much respect for the first part of the encore, before Superstylin’ got everyone bouncing just ahead of the 10.30pm curfew.
words RYAN HEEGER photos DIVISION PHOTOGRAPHY