Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Tue 23 Oct
It’s now been a year since Winter Coat changed their name to Big Thing – a self-deprecating move, no doubt, rather than a decision prompted by a serious faith in nominative determinism. Nevertheless, despite the fact that they’re first on tonight’s bill and guitarist Dan is battling illness, there’s enough about their emo-flavoured indie-rock to suggest that that moniker might yet prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For the time being, though, it’s just pleasing to be reassured that Los Campesinos!’ influence lingers on in Cardiff.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, meanwhile, are rapidly becoming A Very Big Thing Indeed. Following the trajectory of friends and kindred spirits Boy Azooga, they’ve won feverish adoration in the Welsh capital, caught the ear of Huw Stephens and are now in the middle of a UK tour supporting Our Girl. While there’s no repeat of the stage invasion provoked by their Sŵn Cardiff show a mere three days ago, it’s nevertheless clear to the uninitiated what all the fuss is about. John Lennon Is My Jesus Christ (which Tom Rees dedicates to “all the grandmommas”, before instantly regretting it) effectively serves as the band’s mission statement, Rees reeling off a list of rock stars whom he venerates as idols. The set is almost like a séance in the way that he channels the spirit of Marc Bolan, as well as indulging in the sort of Jagger-esque pouting, strutting and high-kicking that would give the Rolling Stone a heart attack these days.
The songs themselves, hook-heavy and high on life, have an irresistible swagger and style straight out of glam rock’s early 70s heyday. The band are dressed in honour of new single Double Denim Hop, Rees conceding that the denim jacket was an unwise choice given the spotlights and his propensity to sweat as much as Lee Evans. He and his band exude confidence by the bucketload too, as well they might.
While Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard revel in being on home turf, Our Girl find themselves in unfamiliar country, this being the Londoners’ first-ever foray across the Severn Bridge. Initially, at least, it shows, in a tentative performance suggestive of a band almost resigned to being upstaged by their tourmates. It doesn’t help that much of their subtle appeal lies in lyrics that are lost in the foggy mix.
Slowly but surely, though, Our Girl’s melodic, sleepy grunge-pop works its charms. What they do particularly well, on songs like Level, In My Head and I Really Like It – all on the Bill Ryder-Jones-produced debut LP Stranger Today – is to shift organically from quiet introspection and vulnerability to codas that shred like the best of ‘em. A recent survey by Fender found that half of the beginner guitarists in the UK and US are female; in Soph Nathan (also of The Big Moon), Our Girl boast someone whose playing could serve as inspiration for a new generation of learners.
words BEN WOOLHEAD