Category Archives: Music

Must-see cultural events in 2017

In the article below our members choose a range of productions and events they are looking forward to in 2017.

Young Critic Amelia Seren Roberts 

Rosalind Dance 4/James Cousins Company

“I’m looking forward to a production called ‘Rosalind’ by Dance 4 and James Cousins Company at Nottingham Lakeside Arts”

“I am looking forward to hearing more from Artes Mundi, and to see Castle Ruins (a show by artists rejected from the Nottingham Castle Open).”

“The New Art Exchange has an interesting show coming up called, ‘Untitled: Art on the conditions of our time”

“Leon Sadler has a show coming up at Syson Gallery that I think is definitely going to be something worth going to see:”

Young Critic Beth Clark

Killology The Sherman Theatre Cardiff and Royal Court Theatre

“The show that I am most excited for this year is “Killology” at the Sherman Theatre, written by my absolute favourite Gary Owen and directed by my also favourite Rachel O’Riordan. Two of the most moving and real life productions of the last two years are Iphigenia in Splott which I saw in Cardiff and Violence and Son which I travelled to London to watch so you can imagine my excitement. I love Gary Owens raw approach on controversial, gritty and  jaw dropping subject matter. “Lie out darkest fantasies, but you don’t escape their consequences” a line used in the write up to the play… it gives me goose bumps as I know this play will take the viewers on a phycological trip they wouldn’t have imagined possible.I hope this play is in the studio theatre as the intense momentum that can be built up in there will be electric, with director Rachel O’Riordan no doubt  pulling out all the stops.”

The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon  The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

“I am particularly interested in seeing this play as the writers and creative team alike are unknown to me so I am eager to enjoy and observe their styles and approaches in tackling such a controversial and historical topic.  I have recently watched the BBC drama “Six Wives with Lucy Worsley” which give quite a different perspective of Catherine to that I had imagined and observed to date. I wonder whether this show will evoke more feelings and insights into the life of Catherine of Aragon for me and can it change my strong views I already have on the story? We will see!”
I, Daniel Blake  the film at Chapter Arts Centre

“I am so relieved that Chapter are doing more viewings of this as I have read epic reviews of this over last few months by some established critics. Always a good sign!”

Drones Comedy Club at Chapter Arts Centre

“Operating monthly at Chapter Art Centre  and rated in the the Big Issues top ten things to do in Cardiff it is definitely a Friday night option and something I am looking forward to throughout 2017.”

Zero for the Young Dudes as part of NT Connections at The Sherman Theatre 

“I am also drawn towards Zero for the Young Dudes performed by Sherman Youth Theatre which will be used as their competition entry to NTC festival. In attending the NTC festival in 2016 I am aware of the quality produced by these young individuals and in some circumstances when experiencing barriers which is always extremely insightful and inspiring to me. It’s also a good opportunity to catch glimpse of the up and coming stars that are going to rock the world of theatre in Wales and beyond for years to come!”


“Firstly, Legend and a tribute to Bob Marley 28 January at the Globe being a 7 piece band which is noted to be a flawless musicianship. I am attending with a fellow reggae lover so set to be a fun evening.



I am gassed for Cardiff’s very own asteroid boys who will be championing their recent success of their sold out tour and signing by Sony records and will be supporting Wiley at Y Plas event in one of my most memorial venues in Clwb ifor Bach”

Im looking forward to any events for 2017 from Pryme cut and Rhyme cut entertainment incorporating Wild boys wasted and likes of Brave Mugraw, Crash, Lord Bendtner, Two Putt and more on battlers… Performers.. Saykridd, Jake the Ripper, Ferny Mac, Chew, Conrad Lott and Beatbox Hann plus much more as the events over the last two years have been something to shout about. These nights are open to any performers any styles making them completely diverse perfect for our very cultural city of Cardiff.

I am also looking for anything to attend that includes again Cardiff’s own Baby Queens with their album being released the latter end of 2016 and being noted in BBC online top 100 single. This band are the ones to watch.”


Get the Chance Creative Associate Jonny Cotton

The House of Bernarda Alba

By Federico García Lorca, Directed by Jenny Sealey
A Royal Exchange Theatre and Graeae Theatre Company co-production

Graeae has a new play, ‘The House of Benarda Alba’ which will be coming out in Feb and will be performing at The Royal Exchange in Manchester so I will be looking forward to see that.”

The House of Bernarda Alba

“My dream or wish is to see a disability-led organisation to come to Wales in 2017. Although I don’t mind travelling to see the likes of Fingersmiths, Graeae, Birds Of Paradise I would like to see them perform in Wales. That would be my wish! I think the difficulties is because of the Arts strands and lack of support from venues which preventing these organisations coming to Wales. We need to see a change in that!”

Young Critic James Briggs

“I am looking forward to this year there are two which I have already got press for in St Davids Hall and they are ‘Anton and Erin’ and ‘Riverdance’.”

Anton and Erin and Lord of The Dance/Riverdance

3rd Act Critic Chris Howell


Sunny Afternoon at the Wales Millennium Centre

“I am particularly keen to see Sunny Afternoon. It started its journey at the Hampstead Theatre, one of my favourite venues in London. Then, as most good productions it is home to, it made it successfully to the West end and now there is a touring company. It’s also the start of an era for me as the Kinks played the Capitol in May 1965, I was there and witnessed the altercation between Dave Davies and Mick Avory”

Community Critic Emily Garside

Killology by Gary Owen

“I am looking forward to another new work from one of Wales’ most interesting playwrights.”

Young Critic Kat Leslie

“I’m looking forward to seeing Thunder playing live in March.

I’m also going to see Footloose performed in June at the Wales Millennium Centre

I am also a festival that I go to every year in August called ‘Solarsphere Astronomy and Music Festival.”

3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

“Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes which is coming to Cardiff. I was fortunate to be given house seats at Sadlers Wells on Christmas Eve. It is arguably the best thing Bourne has ever done. On the home front WNO start the new season with La Boheme. A great atmospheric production and an excellent on to enjoy if you have never seen opera before. “ème

Young Critic Lauren Ellis Stretch

“I am looking forward to Killology at the Sherman Theatre and Funny Girl at the Wales Millennium Centre . The Other Room’s Spring season also looks thrilling!”

3rd Act Critic Helen Joy


A rather controversial topic perhaps but one which raises its curious head regularly in conversation if not in print.

Having touched on this in my review of Bafta Cymru, I feel a personal need to explore the impact of Welsh identity projected in the Arts on audiences.

Opera & Dance

Having absolutely adored having access to so much of both through 2016, I plan on deepening my knowledge through further attendance at performances, continuing to draw at open rehearsals and through interviewing performers and artists.


Leaving events in Cardiff at night has opened my eyes to the problem of homelessness. The stark contrast between the opulent glories of the stage and the plight of living on the streets has been brutal to witness, far more brutal to those who live it. Everyone has a story and I would like to help those stories be heard.”


Review ‘Mary Poppins’, WMC by Kate Richards


Sitting in the Wales Millennium Centre awaiting ‘curtain-up’ at Mary Poppins, I felt slightly sorry for the cast and production crew, at the huge task they faced in trying to impress the likes of me. Not a huge fan of musical theatre at the best of times, somewhat taken aback at the eye-watering cost of taking a family of four to the theatre at Christmas, and yet at the same time harbouring high expectations of being transported to a bright, magical world far away from Brexit, the state of the NHS and all the other gloomy headlines…..I was not disappointed.

As the curtain rose I felt my hackles rise slightly as the hubbub of the audience took too long to die down, but thankfully the volume and energy of the production soon drowned-out the residual noise and fidgeting of the younger audience.

What followed was a fast-paced, re-invention of the story that we know and love, interspersed with just the right mix of slick ‘magic tricks’ (pulling the hat stand out of the carpet bag, sliding up the banisters and making pictures come to life) and all the big songs you’d expect from this production. I was surprised at how different the story and structure was from the original film version, but this did not diminish the production at all – in fact it made it easier to watch for those of us that are very familiar with the dialogue of the iconic film.

The children, though ‘ringleted’ and clad in sailor dress and tank-top respectively, had a bit more attitude than I remember from the film, but I have no doubt this helped to make them more relatable to a modern audience, and helped make the whole thing a little less saccharine than I was expecting. The same could be said for Mary herself – though Zizi Strallen was every inch Mary Poppins from her clipped, received pronunciation to her turned-out toes.

I’m still not sure how Mary actually appeared on the stage, since we were distracted (not for the last time) by the creative use of lighting above the audience, so when our eyes returned to the stage – there she stood, perfectly poised.

The set was totally in-keeping with expectations of the house in Cherry Tree Lane (like the doll’s house you dreamed of as a girl but only collectors actually own), the colourful park and contrasting austere, greyness of the bank, and scene changes were slicker than other big budget productions I’ve seen in the West End. The pace and juxtaposition of the monochromatic scenes in London and the bank versus the vibrant colour of the park and the house scenes worked well at holding the attention of even the youngest audience members, and kept-up the momentum of the story.

I was amused to note that the ‘pre-teen’ beside me, pointed out every wire on the kites, and each cable used by Mary and Bert for their gravity-defying moves to her mother, but considering the challenges of staging this musical, it was actually gratifying that these were the only little bits of ‘reality’ she appeared to spot through-out the evening.

All-in-all it was the visual feast that I’d hoped for and it seems that the big budget really does buy you quality in everything from talent to sound, and costume to lighting. It is hard to pick out individual performances or highlights because the whole production worked seamlessly to create a theatre-going ‘experience’, where all the cogs meshed perfectly in a well-oiled machine. I went to see the production with my ‘Mum hat’ on wondering what my 6 and 10 year old nephews (and eventually my own child when he’s old enough) would make of it – would it be too ‘girly’ and surely there would be a very narrow window of opportunity when a child was old enough to sit through it, but not too old to dismiss it as ‘babyish’ or ‘uncool’? As I reflect on my experience, I know that my nephews would have been transfixed, and I would be so bold as to suggest that my husband would have enjoyed it too; the polished performance absolutely transported me to another world for a couple of hours so I concluded that it would be worth saving up for this as a special family treat at Christmas, and I might even give a few more popular musicals a try.



Gala Night, National Dance Company Wales


How lovely to dress up for a night out! Even lovelier to be asked to attend something as special as this: a Christmas Fundraising Gala for the National Dance Company Wales!

Guided into the dark, starry-lit heart of the school, its stage, we are invited to mingle before sitting at beautifully festive tables to watch the show. We are at the front of the stage, level with our hosts and muddled up with dancers, board members, sponsors, families and friends. It is delightful. It is the entirely predictable warm welcome from this Company which we all value so highly.

Now, this is a night with a purpose. A showcase of dancing wares to one end – to raise awareness and support for the dancers, their Company, their outreach work and their hopes and aspirations for themselves and others.

And so it begins.

Marc (Rees) compered the evening in tremendous style and humour. Caroline (Finn) and Paul (Kaynes) are  practised and fluent with the passion for their business they so want us to share. They say,

We have a responsibility to take dance across Wales, so as many people as                                    possible can experience what it is to dance.

They choose tonight to share with us –

The invisible work that we do, the beautiful and valuable work that we do.

They want to sustain and develop this work, react to people’s needs, make a difference and look after their dancers, keep them well for the hard work they do – and we get it.

We are shown videos, evidence of NDCW dancers working with children, adults, people living with Parkinsons –

I know it’s cheesy but dancing makes me happy.

Is there a finer accolade? One line tells us all we need to know. What these remarkable, dedicated people do benefits young and old alike. Speaking of young, we are now given a performance – This is a Really Difficult Interview, created by Karol Cysewski and performed by the NDCWales Associates.

It is 13 minutes of difficult and complex dance performed perfectly by a large group, aged between 14 and 19. It is not hard to see that nurturing the future talent in dance is worthy for many reasons but what is surprising, is that they demonstrate their professionalism and ability so comfortably.

I hadn’t expected anything so wonderful. I don’t know what to say. It’s so emotional

 – says someone next to me, clearly struggling with her responses.

It’s very competitive, says another, it’s very hard to get in, you know.                                                     Not enough boys, it’s harder for the girls. They are good, aren’t they?

Now, to make a difference, you can’t just tell people about things, you have to make them experience them too. And blow me, Lee (Johnson) has us all on our feet… some braver than others and on the stage while the rest of us toe tap around our chairs! What a hoot!

How clear it becomes that in dance there is activity, laughter, companionship and effort. A simple coordinated routine and we all feel on top of the world – and we all sit back down, renewed and ready to listen.

We are also here to learn about new projects. Andrew (Miller) and Marc (Rees) tell us about R17 and P.A.R.A.D.E. :

An immersive and radical reimagining of Ballets Russes’s 1917 Parade,

And it is to be a participative and flamboyant dance event through the streets of Cardiff to the stage of the Wales Millennium Centre to the glorious cacophony of Satie’s music. There will be Dr. Who, there will be Revolution at the Senedd, there will be oranges thrown.

This is a major collaboration between NDCW, WNO, WMC and the RCMD which marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. Tickets are on sale now at

Lastly, before the Christmas carousing closes the evening, we are treated to Animatorium. Ok, so I am biased. I saw this in rehearsal and on the pavement outside. I feel the inner thrill of recognition and anticipation. I am excited to see this again. I do not expect the reactions around me:

Ooh, I’ve gone all goose-pimply, says one, rubbing her arms and wiping an eye.

Cheesy, goose-pimply – this work is incredible; the work these dancers and their team do is incredible. Do not take my word for it – please go and see them, learn to dance with them, help them continue what they do best –and let them develop their influence, making people happy.

They do all this through public funding, supporters, sponsors and ticket sales; but you can help too:

In the New Year, NDCW will be launching LIFT, a new supporter scheme. Information will be available at where other means of donating are available as well.

In the meantime, please get yourself a ticket. You won’t regret it.



Caroline Finn – Artistic Director

Paul Kaynes – Chief Executive

Lee Johnston – Rehearsal Director

Andrew Miller – Executive producer of R17

Marc Rees – Director and Curator of Contemporary Performance and Installation


Reviewed, Saturday, 2nd December, 2016

Review ‘Licensed to Ill’, Southwark Playhouse by Hannah Goslin

Image result for licensed to ill theatre

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

While not being an 80’s baby, but a 90’s one, I grew up listening to many 80’s/90’s prevalent artists thanks to my two older brothers. One that always caught my attention were the Beastie Boys. Perhaps not the most appropriate of music to be listening to, the songs provided a new sound that the Spice Girls and Prodigy (while some of my absolute favourites in their own rights) did not produce.

Licensed to Ill, taken from the album title by the band, see the progression of their influence in music, firstly coming from the first hip hop influences to how three white New Yorkers broke the scene, providing their influence to many stars of the scene today.

Now an almost ‘biographical’ production sounds like it would be a little like a museum talk – while interesting, there’s still a lot of verbal storytelling and not enough action. How wrong that is when it comes to Licensed to Ill. Fast paced, quick witted and using all resources, this production tells the story of these three boys through humour, great use of doubling, tripling characters, but making them a little over the top to not only distinguish them from previous characters but to bring hilarity to the situation of a small cast compacting in a huge number of personas.

What struck me as extraordinary is that the three playing the Beastie Boys themselves were completely on the mark. Their mannerisms, approach to the characters and generally trying to be ‘bad ass’ was so well executed, it was so easy to get lost in the production and feel as if you were meeting the real deal. And this is where the musical talent comes in – if these actors weren’t young for the age of the Beastie Boys today, and you know, were in a play, I could have been convinced that I was watching a gig. The musical interludes with some of their best hits were brilliant – they moved around the stage and conducted themselves just like the band and their singing voices nailed the originals – if you have not listened to the Beastie Boys before now (shame on you!) then check them out because not only was their music unique, but their voices were too. To replicate this is nothing short of incredible.

Licensed to Ill is fun, fast paced and comedic on all levels. From the set to the characters to the execution of 20+ years of band history condensed into over 1 hour with theatrical techniques, a biographical production is turned into some wonderful nostalgia.

The Launch of Creative Citizens Cymru


Get the Chance recently organised a morning of creative conversations called Creative Citizens Cymru. The event was funded by the Arts Council Wales Sharing Together. “A strategic initiative to encourage the development of networking opportunities.”

The event took place at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Participants shared their views on a variety of issues including, the on-going relationships between arts critics, venues, producers and artists, critical responses to Welsh venues’ work as well as new and existing collaborative working methods. Get the Chance (GTC) is a social enterprise that supports members of the public to access and respond to sport and cultural provision. GTC was specifically interested in generating conversation relating to ways to support the development of Creative Citizens acting as critics, ambassadors, volunteers, advocates, promoters, workshop leaders and more.

Representatives from a range of organisations discussed some of their work in this area including,

Geinor Styles Artistic Director, of Theatr na nÓg and Ani of the Ambassadors discussed their Ambassadors scheme.


“The Theatr na nÓg Ambassadors scheme started in January 2016 in order to support and mentor the new generation of theatre professionals.

 Aimed towards 16-25 year olds, the scheme offers full access to the company where you will learn by observation and get hands-on experience at rehearsals, on productions and events. The Ambassadors have already supported na nÓg in our production of ‘TOM’ at the Wales Millennium Centre, performed as cast members on ‘The Amazing Adventure of Wallace and Bates’ at Cardiff Museum and the Eisteddfod as well as supporting the production of ‘The Ghost of Morfa Colliery’ at the Dylan Thomas Theatre in Swansea.

 We want to work with as many young people as possible through the medium of both Welsh and English and by offering our support and resources, we hope to contribute to the development of new skills that they will be able to use at na nÓg and elsewhere in the industry.”óg-ambassadors

Nia Skyrme Freelance producer/promoter

Nia works with local community representatives to support marketing opportunities for touring productions. Shanon Newman was local promoter on a recent production supported by Nia.

“My name is Shannon and I am currently an ‘on the ground promoter’ working on Motherlode’s The Good Earth. That means that I am helping to spread the word to as many people as possible about this show which tours Wales in September.

Motherlode’s tagline is Tireless New Theatre, Made in Wales. I saw the last run of rehearsals for ‘The Good Earth’ at Park & Dare Theatre in Treorchy a few weeks ago. I feel extremely lucky to be working to engage people in the Cardiff area and to have got the chance to watch the performance just before it went on tour to New York. I’m delighted to help spread the word about this production; the themes that it touches on evokes awareness on what has affected Wales as a country in the past and its reaction to moments of hardship. It is an important message of strength and unity, especially during a time when we seem to be so divided.

‘The Good Earth’ echoes concerns over the threat to the Welsh identity and community with its close relation to the Aberfan and Tryweryn tragedies. The play made me feel nostalgic about situations I’ve never personally experienced, and empathetic for the characters’ cause to maintain the integrity of their way of life. It reminded me of Wales’s role in modern Britain, and how drastically that has developed over the years. It was the backlash against apathetic and unjust authorities that helped to fuel the surge of Welsh nationalism that we see today.

The singing, though not appearing to be its fundamental feature, significantly intensified the mood of the play. It had a meditative effect. Kudos to the actors for managing to convey the emotions of deeply relevant issues in many Welsh communities. I am so excited to see the show alongside a Welsh audience when it returns from NYC.”

Peter Gregory and Hilary Farr from Arts Council Wales, Night Out Scheme.

Peter and Hilary gave us all a brief overview of The Night Out Scheme


“The Arts Council of Wales’ Night Out scheme works in partnership with the local authorities to help groups of volunteers across Wales bring the arts to the heart of their communities. 

 Community groups (known as Promoters) can choose from a huge range of great professional performers and put them on in community or village halls and other non traditional venues across the country.  If you want information on how the scheme works and promoting events visit the Become a Promoter Section.

  Each year close to 600 shows are booked through the scheme by nearly 350 different community groups. Alongside the main scheme we also run the Noson Allan Fach  scheme which offers small shows for member led organsiations such as WI or Merched y Wawr.

 Working in conjunction with the local authorities of Wales, the Night Out team operates a guarantee against loss for events where we pay the performer fee and the community promoter pays back ticket income made at the door. 

 We never take more than the performer costs so as a promoter you will never be worse off by using the scheme. The more money promoters make back the more funds we have available to say yes to another request. 

 Our promoters are free to book a wide range of professional artists. Many come to Night Out for advice on appropriate high quality shows suitable for small community venues.”

Sophie Mckeand and Christine Smith are Night Out Young Promoter Coordinators and talked about their work in this field.

“The award winning Young Promoters Scheme works with groups of children and young people taking them through the process of becoming the promoters for an event in their community. You can  download an information leaflet  here 

 “The whole scheme was very straightforward. Everything was clearly explained. The support we had from the Arts Council staff team was superb …The young people were extremely proud of what they had achieved. They have grown in skill and confidence and can’t wait to do it again”  Sharon Campbell  Colwyn Bay Youth Centre

 The Night Out Young Promoters Scheme is an ideal way of giving practical skills to children and young people and improving the relationship between young people and their schools and their local community.

 Operating since 2005, the scheme has worked with hundreds of children and young people aged between 7 and 18 throughout Wales, giving them the unique experience of organising and enjoying a performing arts event in their local hall. Projects involve a facilitator, working alongside a teacher or youth leader to enable a group of young people to experience the “behind the scenes” work that goes into organising an event.  Though a series of workshop sessions groups are taken through aspects of Box Office, Front of House, Stage Management and Marketing / publicity and Sponsorship.  The Young Promoters get to make all the decisions – and do all the work!

Groups are able to have fun as part of a creative learning process and to develop personal, social and work related skills. When run in schools, the scheme can be utilised to deliver specific  elements of the national curriculum since it includes aspects of literacy, ICT, mathematics, numeracy, art and design and event management.”

 Kai Jones, Gig Buddies Coordinator, Accessible Information Officer, Learning Disability Wales.

Kai discussed the new Gig Buddies initiative.

“Making choices about how you live your life is an important part of being independent. We want to make sure that people with a learning disability can choose to stay up late and go to gigs. A gig is another name for a music concert.

We know that many people with a learning disability love music, but don’t ever get the chance to go to gigs and see their favourite bands live. To help change this we are starting a new project, called Gig BuddiesThe project will match people with a learning disability with volunteers who share the same music tastes so they can go to gigs together.”

Anne-Marie Lawrence, Senior Project Manager, Spice Time Credits, South East Wales.

“Time Credits make a sustainable difference to a range of organisations across the community, housing, health, care and school sectors. They are proven to increase the number of people involved in the community and are able to help sustain that involvement over time, bringing about a range of transformative outcomes.

Time Credit systems work on a simple hour-for-hour basis: for every hour you give to your community you earn one Time Credit, which you can then spend on an activity of your choice.

You can give time in ways that match your skills and interests, and spend your Time Credits with our diverse range of fantastic partners across the UK who offer everything from swimming to learning a language.”

Much of the morning was spent working as a large group sharing learning opportunities and informal networking.

During the second half of the morning the group were tasked with further developing some responses to questions which developed from the initial conversations and areas Get the Chance wanted to focus on. Some of the responses can be seen in the images below.





An online survey was also created to continue this conversations. The survey is till live and we invite anyone interested to complete it.

Get the Chance has another event planned in North Wales in the spring of 2017

Guy O’Donnell the director of Get the Chance organised a similar event a few years ago and a blog post on this event can be found at the link below.




Review Sŵn Fest by Osian Ifans


For a such a small country Wales puts out strong competition when it comes to festivals. Festivals can often feel just standard but what makes me proud of festivals in Wales is that they all have their own unique atmosphere. However, that does come with draw backs take Green Man for example, it’s a fantastic festival that welcomes music and art lovers of all ages and the party goes on until early hours of the morning. Yet try and navigate your way through the music tents without tripping up on deck chairs. Festival No6 is probably the most gorgeous festival in the UK but it appeals to the glamping craze and therefore comes with an over inflated price tag. Sŵn Fest however has taken what worked so well for it ten years ago and simply expanded it across Cardiff and it’s just perfect. It’s a festival that not only showcases the City of Cardiff but also the wonderful atmosphere of the city.

This year it started off in, Cardiff’s newest arts venue, The Tramshed. We kicked off with The Crows followed by Pumorassa with a captivating performance. After that we had Spring Kings last minute replacement Estrons and Sandinistas. This may have been a misstep putting on two bands who were on the line-up later in the weekend rather than a band like Palomino Party, who perhaps should have been on the line-up anyway, but Meylir Jones’ performance made up for this. The Tramshed was the perfect place to kick the weekend off, it’s currently Cardiff’s coolest venue for sure and even though it’s a bit out of the centre It still feels like it’s part of everything.

Come Saturday I was feeling a bit worse for wear but after a stop off in Castle Emporium to check out the Sŵn Fest Museum and to get some Coffee from Outpost I started the day again. Saturday and Sunday was more your usually Sŵn Fest. Whereas on Friday we stayed in one location on Saturday and Sunday we were here, there and everywhere. At Clwb Ifor Bach I managed to catch a Dutch band who may be competing for the best band name ever Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda VHS? They came on looking the teenagers who hang around Blue Banna on Queen Street but came on blew everyone away with catchy tunes and an energetic set. Others at Swn like Winter Coat, Fenne Lily and Park Winter were also stand outs for me. At Clwb you could also get your hands on Sŵn Fest’s  pale ale which went down far too well. At Big Top, above Ten Feet Tall, I saw a very hairy band called Falls. As entertaining as they were, crowd surfing and using audience members as mic stands, their music wasn’t for me. Silent Forum took the stage after Falls being significantly less hairy they were a breath of fresh air. Silent Forum recently got into a twitter spat with, Radio 6’s, Adam Walton who insinuated that they were to young to play Post-Punk music. When they hit the stage at big top they blew everyone away, proving post-punk doesn’t belong to those who happened to be teenagers at the time of Joy Division.

A surprisingly good venue was upstairs at O’Neils where I saw, my weekends standout band, Stealing Sheep. At Moon Club I caught a bit of MCLUSKY but found it to be far too small to comfortably watch a band as loud as them. To end the night on Saturday Cate LeBon played in Buffalo and she was effortless, nodding approvingly at the crowd as she reeled off reworked versions of her best songs. It was cool to see her back in a venue she used to play at before taking over America.

You could hop from venue to another and all you’ll find is people willing to find some new music and have a good time listening to it. They started 10 years ago with a winning formula over the years Sŵn Fest stuck to it and I’m very grateful it’s Cardiff. I believe it competes with other festivals and what it has over the bigger ones on festival sites is that you can go home and have a wash.

Review Sŵn Fest by Emma Mazey

2016 saw the 10th anniversary of the legendary Sŵn Fest in Cardiff. If you’re not familiar (have you been living under a rock?) Sŵn Fest is a festival ran over three days and in 10 venues around central Cardiff from Buffalo to The Tramshed hosting small, indie bands and singers. It’s a fantastic opportunity to find new bands and artists that go under the radar. This year the talent was explosive, from the bad boy sounds of the Cradles to the more mellow sounds of The Gentle Good, there’s something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.


Monico Blonde

I had the opportunity to view the set of a fantastic upcoming band, Monico Blonde. A quartet of four young lads whose talent hits you across the face, had the challenge of opening up the venue on Saturday 22nd in O’Neills bar. If they were nervous it didn’t show, the crowd were enraptured despite the sober atmosphere (it was 2PM in the afternoon after all!).

The Welsh indie band only formed a few months ago but it certainly doesn’t show, they were gentlemen of the stage and no one could take their eyes off the stage. After their set they were more than happy to answer the eager press of which I was part of.

They credited Swn Fest with giving ‘up and coming bands an audience to play to and to get their name out there,’ they also said ‘Its nice to play a festival that’s sheltered from the rain!’ Clearly they are no strangers to the unpredictable Welsh weather!

However, the Welsh natives don’t plan on keeping close to home and have big plans to go as far and wide as they can. After months of rehearsing and practicing and recording their plan now is to ‘gig, gig, gig, gig, gig and gig some more!’

Monico Blonde, who have the silky charisma of a band that’s been together for years profess their ambition to ‘headline a gig in the Castle’ as in Cardiff Castle by the summer ‘so hopefully with gigs like this such as Sŵn Fest we will get a big enough name to be able to do that within the next few years.’

Their single is coming out at the start of December; they will also be back in Cardiff around this time.


The Cradles

Another highlight for me at Sŵn Fest was the Cradles, the indie rock band who are ever so reminiscent of the Beatles performed to the packed out venue of the Moon Club with the professionalism of a band twice their age.

Sŵn Fest will be back next year so keep an eye out for more opportunities to catch some great new bands!

Thanks to Get The Chance for the opportunity of a press pass!


Review Sŵn Festival by Emily Jay



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


I can usually be found at one venue or another on Cardiff’s Womaby Street most weekends, so when Sŵn Fest time rolls around it can feel akin to a party in your own living room… only with more bunting, balloons, and bands of course. This is just one key element to Sŵn’s enduring success; the sense of community between organisers, venues, acts and fans alike. Whether you’ve travelled from far and wide or you live ten minutes away like I do, everyone’s there for the same reason – to discover the most exciting up-and-coming bands and artists, filling Cardiff’s best-loved intimate venues with a welcoming and buoyant atmosphere. 2016 sees the festival reach double figures, and I was lucky enough to join the party and celebrate as Sŵn turned ten years old!


This year, Sŵn Festival begins early for me. On Wednesday, 19th October Pembrokeshire-born filmmaker Kieran Evans brought ‘Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave.’ to Cardiff’s Premiere Cinema for its global premiere. As a dyed-in-the-wool Manic Street Preachers fan, a one-off screening (for now, at least) of any of Evans’ work with the band, complete with a Q&A hosted by the inimitable Simon Price, is not to be missed. The film, shot during several dates of the Manics’ 20th anniversary tour of their groundbreaking 1994 album The Holy Bible, is as uncompromising and unrelenting as the record itself. Evans had pre-warned me in a short Twitter exchange that “there will be strobing…”, but after attending two dates on the THB20 tour myself, I knew that would only serve to make it a true account of the gigs; I was seeing black spots in front of my eyes for days afterwards. Evans’ focus on the fans, as much as the band, throughout the film illustrates the impact the album continues to have on its audience – not one face is captured missing a lyric, nor a word of the excerpts that have come to be such a distinctive feature of the record. They sing every song back to the band, their eyes never flickering away from the stage, with, dare I say, even more conviction and fervour than James Dean Bradfield himself.


After the “visual and sonic assault on the senses”, as Evans’ describes the film, we are treated to a Q&A session where he reveals he is working on a “more personal” documentary with the Manics, provisionally titled ‘Escape From History’, to follow on from the more fact-based ‘Freed From Memories’ film that was included in the 20th anniversary boxset edition of Everything Must Go. This time, Evans says, there will be more focus on how the three remaining band members coped with the disappearance of their long-time best friend and fourth Manic Street Preacher, Richey Edwards, in February 1995, the difficult question of if and how to carry on as a band, and the resulting album Everything Must Go. Evans also deals with pleas from audience members for ‘Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave.’ to get a DVD release or other screenings around the country, mostly passed on by other fans that were unable to make it to Cardiff. While he makes no promises, particularly as “DVDs don’t sell anymore”, I think it would be a real shame for Manics fans across the world not to have the opportunity to see the live expression of an album we all hold so dear. Evans also reveals how the film’s title was settled upon, in keeping with the tradition of naming his album-based works with the band after lyrics from their songs (see: ‘Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair’ and the aforementioned ‘Freed From Memories’). During discussions with the band’s bassist Nicky Wire, the idea of ‘Suntan and Napalm’ from “ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart” was suggested and so, less seriously but perhaps just as fittingly, was ‘Sterilise Rapists’ from “Archives Of Pain”. Joking aside, Evans’ assertion that The Holy Bible is “a cultural statement unlike any other” is a description truly befitting of the Manics’ masterpiece and how vital it evidently remains more than twenty years on.

A couple of days later on Saturday afternoon, I collect my press pass from the warm and welcoming volunteers at the Castle Emporium and set off to find my new favourite bands. Unfortunately, I don’t get a chance to explore the Music Museum – a joint venture between Swn and Cardiff University – in the Castle Arcade over the weekend but having been told it will be open until mid-November, I’ll definitely be whiling away a couple of hours there sometime in the coming weeks!


My first port of call from the wristband exchange is the BBC Gorwelion/Horizons stage, housed upstairs in O’Neills, to see North Walian four-piece Fleur De Lys. Their brand of indie rock comes complete with non-stop catchy hooks and striking Welsh language vocals, while the sense of joyful abandon inherent in their live shows makes them an unforgettable first find of the weekend.


My obsessive habit of arriving early for gigs pays off in style when I get to Clwb Ifor Bach half an hour early for Matt Hitt’s Drowners. I squeeze into the very back of the packed-out downstairs room to catch a few songs from Bryde, and I’m immediately glad I did. Moving seamlessly between powerful chords and gentler melodies, and with a voice that is equal parts PJ Harvey and Stevie Nicks, I’d like to think it was meant to be that I stumbled upon Bryde’s performance as I haven’t been able to stop listening to her music in the days since. Bryde plays Clwb Ifor Bach again on 2nd November for Swn’s Hair Of The Dog That Bit You gig, a “one-off post-Swn new-band-chaser” that is not to be missed.

Dashing upstairs to join the already sizeable crowd collecting for Drowners, I don’t have to wait long before the band grace the stage exuding New York cool. Expecting an aloof, detached performance I’m pleasantly surprised to see a band who unashamedly look like they’re having a great time, and promptly check my preconceptions where I stand. I’d been sold on seeing Drowners after learning that frontman Matt Hitt was a Rhondda boy and that the band were named after Suede’s debut single – a surefire winner with me. But although their name might come from Brett Anderson’s boys, their sound is more akin to The Smiths and The Cure mixed with more modern indie flavours like The Walkmen and We Are Scientists, destined to fill indie disco dancefloors here and across the Atlantic.


As I wind my way back downstairs, the growing audience for Shells catches my attention, and my decision to join them turns out to be an excellent one. Distinctive vocals on a bed of dreamy melodies helps the captivating delivery of her songs stick in your mind long after the performance, and it’s little wonder she drew such a big crowd at one of the busiest periods of the day, surely leaving everyone who saw her enraptured.

After catching up with friends at a nearby bar and sharing all the tips we have for who to try and catch tomorrow, we cross to the other side of Womanby Street to The Moon Club and we’re lucky enough to get there before they are forced to employ a one-in-one-out policy, evidence of the venue’s popularity and stellar line-up of acts. As we thunder upstairs, I’m unable to hide my excitement that I’m finally getting to see Mclusky* live! After being a fan for a mere twelve years, they don’t disappoint and are an obvious highlight of the whole festival for me. I’ll treasure the memory of being part of a packed-to-the-rafters crowd, screaming along to every witty, clever lyric that I never really thought I’d get to hear anywhere else than through my headphones sat on the X4 bus.


Post-Mclusky*, I escape the sweatbox that The Moon Club has fast become and get my breath back on my way to O’Neills for Tibet who are closing the Gorwelion/Horizons stage. It’s the perfect finish to the night with Tibet’s energetic indie pop sounding bolder than ever, and there’s a belief shared between everyone I speak to that the band will be playing on bigger stages and to bigger crowds in no time at all.


My first visit on the Sunday afternoon is to see Cardiff’s own Winter Coat who are declaring the Girl In A Band stage at Clwb Ifor Bach open. Carving their own niche in the dream pop genre, Winter Coat strike a wistful note between melancholy and careful optimism, and are the perfect antidote to the chilly October air with their melodies evoking a fresh, Spring-like feeling.


Winning the award for Best Band Name of the weekend (against fierce competition from Strong Asian Mothers and Scott And Charlene’s Wedding) are Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? One of my favourites of this year’s festival, HYESTJFAV (because I can’t keep typing that out!) have come all the way from Finland to fill the top floor of Clwb with their synth-laden garage rock. Running from 60s girl group melodies to 80s electro-pop and back again, HYESTJFAV continue the rich tradition of wonderfully alternative bands from Scandinavia and I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they’ll do next.


Another big draw to The Moon Club comes in the form of Let’s Eat Grandma, a teenage girl duo from Norfolk who I’m highly excited to see as I’ve heard so many plaudits thrown their way already. Hearing their darkly ethereal alternative pop, with influences far beyond their years, leaves me in no doubt that the praise is completely warranted. Imagine if Kate Bush and Robert Smith had a child and left Nico to babysit, and you’ll be somewhere along the right track towards the thoroughly unique brilliance of Let’s Eat Grandma.


CwCw are next on my list of must-sees over at Undertone, the basement venue beneath 10 Feet Tall on nearby Church Street. Hailing from Blackwood, around eight miles from my hometown of Tredegar, I’m not about to miss the opportunity to support talent from my little neck of the woods. Formed at school (just like another Blackwood-born band I’ve previously mentioned!) if this taste of the band’s indie-folk sound is any indicator of what’s to come from them it won’t be long until their dream of being snapped up by a record label is realised. Special mention must be made to the tireless Young Promoters Network for curating such a successful stage at Undertone on the Sunday, and for slinging a free lei my way on entry!


My final show of the weekend comes from Stealing Sheep, an all-girl trio from Liverpool signed to the wonderful Heavenly Records, who are appearing on the Make Noise stage upstairs in O’Neills. Doing my research beforehand, I saw the term “genre-defying” used a lot in regards to them, but I’ll give it a try… Let’s say, early-80s influenced electropop with a psychedelic edge, given an unexpectedly folk-like slant. Sort of. I’ve always admired bands that are difficult to pigeon-hole, and Stealing Sheep are no exception. With their live show full of energy and conviction, they are the ideal way for me to finally wear myself out and sign off from Swn 10.

It cannot go without saying how much work goes into making Sŵn Fest such a success, from the organisers and volunteers to the venues and the acts themselves, so a huge thank you and congratulations for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend has to go out to everyone involved! As someone who is constantly looking to discover new music, the weirder and more wonderful the better, Sŵn is continuing to prove itself unparalleled in offering fans of just about any genre the opportunity to enjoy the best venues in Cardiff and uncover the next big things!




Review Clear Cut OUT by Kimberley Pennell

After attending the last Clear Cut, I was apprehensive that its relocation to The Globe would negate a little of the intimacy it held in the tightly packed gallery space at MADE. Where the audience, sat at the knees of the performers, were close enough to catch every facial tic and viscera of emotion. Yet, by the end of the night, moving shoulder to shoulder with strangers on a makeshift dance floor, I felt the familiar sense of closeness. The new, rather more auspicious, platform, rather than forcing distance, allowed the artists to explore and subvert traditional space through both their work, and proximity.

Without introduction, two female voices, disjointed and distanced by static, swelled through the darkness. On a continual loop, the cycle of barely discernible phrases and jarring feedback quickly superseded the instinctive need to distinguish language and became a haunting norm, as if it were the voice of the space itself. Heightening the tension, paper aeroplanes poured down from above, which revealed, when unfolded, texts that were as tangled and mired in themselves as the surrounding soundscape. The experience was displacing, emphasised when the performer stepped into, through and over the audience, speaking into a megaphone, becoming the physical manifestation of the voices that both invited and rejected the act of listening, participation and belonging.

Will Salter


The exploration of our transformative interactions space, whether physical, mental or negative, was articulated most convincingly by the poetry of Rosie Bufton. Her intimate portrayal of the truncating nature of prison, stemming from her work with inmates, details the devastation inherent in incarceration. The reality of the lives laid to waste in the “concrete womb,” are made apparent by her references to fathers, brothers and men, that without the possibility of a future, are left to languish inside the structure of the poem, even after we had finished listening. Bufton moved from the physical prisons, to the abstract, but no less damaging, emotional and mental prisons that are built by trauma, and policed by us. Moving and relatable, Bufton urges that despite how trapped we may feel inside our own minds, at least with self-agency, there is hope for breaking free.


Turning Worlds

Turning Worlds, a complex, multi-disciplinary, and ultimately, beautiful performance – both visually and sonically – was so layered upon completion that it almost defies summary. Exploring and deconstructing the stiff structure of formal, and specifically, courtly, dance, Turning Worlds related the subversion of free and fluid movement to a revolt in wider society. The combination of music, spoken word, technology, video and dance worked in perfect symbiosis, culminating in something fresh, exciting and not to be missed.

The similar physicality of Livia Frankish’s clarinet performance of Three Ephemera posed, and answered, the question of how much a performer can give to a pre-constructed piece of work. Watching Frankish lean into her instrument, her chest ebb, her shoulders rise, her face articulating the emotion in each note, the act of creation appeared so intimate I felt voyeuristic watching. With a surprising amount of comedy she exaggerated the toll the piece takes physically to play, eventually superseding the voice of the clarinet with her own, almost tantrum like crescendo of notes, asserting the creativity and control of her interpretation.

A Leap of Faith

Artist Robyn Hobbs took to the stage in what I described in my notes as a “dope ass Mrs Rotherham outfit”. With a heavily outlined nine-yard stare, the collaborative team of artist and band, lead by Ben Thomas, engaged in an elaborate call and response. Hobbs moved from frenetically painting, to enacting a progression of symbols and allegories that turned in tone with the seamless transitions of the music. The Leap of Faith alluded to by its various tropes, was sinister and wild in its expression, a literal and metaphorical precipice exemplified by the near edge of the stage. By the end, both band and artist declined into an entropic chaos, a stream of consciousness both verbal and aural that reflected a fall into a metaphysical madness, creating questions that lasted long after they departed the stage.

Particularly poignant was the collaborative dance and film based piece, Knots Cymylau. The film made visible the struggle of a body working through the trauma of mental illness. Heavy with the metaphor of its proximity to the cliffs edge, the camera work contrasted the vastness of the landscape, versus the macro shots of the body stretching and recoiling, emphasising the instability of identity anxiety with pulsating music and red screens. Especially when, perhaps unintentionally, it was followed by our compere’s poem, begun with repeated “shhhhs.” Reflecting the stigma that often dogs conversation of mental illness.

Nevsky Perspective

Finishing, was the atmospheric, complex and full-bodied music of Nevsky Perspective. Pure vocals looped over industrial beats in an intricately layered soundscape that built and built, until its full weight settled into some sort of profound sonic experience. The set acted, not as a song-by-song showcase, but as an experience in its entirety, moving from hauntingly delicate moments to room engulfing sounds. A slow, aural burn that demands, and is truly worth, your investment.

As ever, no Clear Cut event is ever fully complete without the inimitable Will Salter. The vast spectrum of adjectives I could use to describe his performances will always pale in comparison to seeing the man and his extraordinary enunciatory prowess. Acting as the vessel for a DaDa-ist entity, his guttural and phonetic utterances stretched out of his body in a way that seemed improbable, and, despite our human mouths not being nearly as gymnastic, managed to get the audience shouting along before the first act had even started.

Clear Cut OUT is a unique event that manages to be both magnificently curated, yet totally organic. Consistently constructing programmes that offer a diverse range of experimental performance art, Clear Cut is an accessible and entertaining entryway into the fringe of local and national talent.

Find out more about the event here:

Or have a taster here:

Props to Glyn Owen and Sarah Vaughan-Jones for the images.
Special thanks to The Globe, Sarah Vaughan-Jones and all contributors and performers for the organisation of this event.

Get the Chance to be a music journalist at this years Sŵn Festival


Are you aged 14+?

Interested in brilliant contemporary new music ?

Want to Get the Chance to see and review Lonely The Brave, R Seiliog, The Gentle Good, Wolf Girl, Tender Prey and loads more amazing artists at this years Sŵn Festival?

Want to access a free workshop which will give you an insight into the role of a music journalist?

Then, this is for you!

What’s involved?

You will take part in a 2 hour workshop with Guy O’Donnell Director of online magazine website Get the Chance at a venue to be confirmed.

You will need to be free the Weekend of Fri the 21 st -Sun 23rd of October

To apply contact Get the Chance director Guy O’Donnell All applicants need to be aged 14+