THE TRIALS OF CATO
The Gate, Cardiff, Sat 21 Mar; Abersytwyth Arts Centre, Wed 1 Apr
The Trials Of Cato’s name has overtones of ancient Rome, although the band took it from their former dig-sharing landlord who didn’t care for their music – perhaps he was named after the ancients). They formed in Beirut while working as English teachers in 2015 and earned high marks in Lebanon.
The trio of William Addison (Irish bouzouki, accordion, percussion, vocals), Robin Jones (mandolin, tenor banjo, vocals) and Tomos Williams (guitars, backing vocals) came back home to Britain and toured. A 2017 self-titled EP was followed a year later by debut album Hide And Hair, which won Best Album at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards; the trio were also Best Emerging Artists at the inaugural Welsh Folk Awards.
Jones and Williams both hail from Wrexham, Addison from Leeds, and while they honour traditional folk music, they don’t follow that genre to the letter – they update, modernise and can rock out. Gloria, an original tune about a 16-year-old miner who follows his heart with a surprise metamorphosis, is a story that is current while also something people have been doing for ages. The Trials of Cato get an A plus – excellent.