The Moon, Cardiff, Sat 3 Mar
For the intrepid adventurer soaked from trudging through the icy slush that has transformed Cardiff city centre into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, arriving at the Moon is like chancing happily upon refuge and sustenance in a warm, cosy cottage – only with beer and noiserock in place of the steaming mug of cocoa and roaring log fire.
The three members of Guide Dog have had quite a journey to get here, too – one that started in the late 1990s and has taken in stints in Robots In The Sky, People In Planes, Tetra Splendour and Cold Specks. Debut LP Lovely Domestic Bliss was released on their own Hi Vis Records imprint last July, and the single Egos With Genitals – not coincidentally the best song of their set – has received radio play from both Bethan Elfyn and Adam Walton.
“Post-grunge” is a tag that the trio have jokingly embraced, but in fact their use of electronic effects and evident disinclination to take themselves too seriously mean that the closest comparison is probably with Future Of The Left. A louder bark and a toothier bite, and Guide Dog might leave a bit more of an impression.
The same cannot be said for the headliners, a 12-legged beast from the East that has scuttled along the M4 and over the Severn Bridge in search of fresh meat. Described in the pre-gig promotional blurb as “six men old enough to know better”, Hey Colossus do admittedly take to the stage looking like a band of unassuming dads who’ve come together to knock out a few classic rock staples at the school summer fete. But it takes a matter of milliseconds to underline why they don’t get many bookings providing the musical backdrop to tombolas and bakesales.
Frankly, it’s not possible to “know better” than to do what Hey Colossus do – namely, fuse Sabbath riffage to krautrock grooves, with the occasional diversion into the sort of deliriously unhinged noisiness with which the Amphetamine Reptile label became synonymous in the late 1980s and 1990s. Together with kindred spirits Gnod, Mugstar and Part Chimp (the first two of whom have also played this very venue in the last year), they’re at the vanguard of the rock division of what has been dubbed “New Weird Britain” – a position they’ve cemented with a series of superb albums, culminating in last year’s The Guillotine.
What sets Hey Colossus apart from some of their contemporaries is their employment of a bona fide vocalist, Paul Sykes. The frontman is so tall, and the Moon’s ceiling is so low, that he looks to be in perpetual danger of scraping his scalp. Perhaps, though, that could prove serendipitous: if his bandmates’ powerful rumble does end up reducing the roof-supporting pillars to rubble, then at least he can use his head to help stop the upper storeys from crashing down on ours. Thankfully, though, that doesn’t quite come to pass, and we’re left to reflect on the fact that south Wales has now survived not one but two subterranean tremors already this year. The earth definitely moved for us.
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos RICH COLLINS