“There are so many people who got into PARAMORE as a teenager and now listen to more music like this, but they’ll always pick nostalgia.” Gig clashes when you’re a small venue can really suck, and the ticket man on the door tonight at Fuel in Cardiff for CANVAS is definitely feeling this. Hayley Williams and co. are playing down the road at the Motorpoint Arena this evening and although the rock pub is never going to be in any danger of closure, it’s this sort of scenario that, along with a plethora of other factors, is causing the closure of some of the country’s best loved places that hold music week in, week out. It’s really sad to see, and the notion to supporting the local scene has become more vital than ever, but this journalist digresses…
The other news from tonight is that co-headliners CREATE TO INSPIRE have pulled out at the last minute owing to a family emergency and whilst it’s the right thing to do, it’s naturally had an impact on the size of the audience; you can count on two hands the amount of people present for opening trio WINCHESTER, who struggle to make much of an impact as a result. Not for want of trying, they put everything they can into it and their drummer is blessed with an abundance of energy, but songs like the sludge-tinged Animal, new single Life Begins and Problem fail to hit the mark in front of a near-empty room. It feels more like a label audition or band practice than a gig performance, but they’ll have better nights than this and a bigger crowd to feed off will help them immeasurably. It’s just not their evening.
To add insult to injury, the numbers swell significantly for I AM GRAVITY who hail from ‘sunny’ Port Talbot in Neath (their words, no-one else’s). With limited stage space, singer Aaron takes up a position on the floor to allow the rest of the band the freedom to move as much as possible around at what is only their second ever live show; as they conclude, the consensus is that there will be many more in the pipeline. A unit so tight they could have done two hundred shows beforehand, their reflective post rock is well suited to the acoustics in Fuel and it’s certainly helped that Roberts has a great voice on him that carries superbly, boasting range and presence to instantly engage all around him; there’s also a sparkling performance from bassist James Roberts as well. Keep an eye out for I AM GRAVITY, there is potential here in spades and their upcoming release in March deserves your time.
With the cancellation of one of the headliners, SKYWALKER find themselves as main support and the boys from Prague (or Tattooine, as they’ll they’ll try and convince you), take it with both hands and make the most of it. They’re very happy to be back in the UK and give a performance reflecting that, combining energy with some excellent lighting and make the smart move to bringing another sparse crowd closer to the stage to create a far more intimate setting. Things start a little slowly, but SKYWALKER grow in confidence as the set goes on and they eventually win over the audience by dedicating Blood to Cardiff’s castle and Microsoft on account of said monument reminding them of classic strategy game Age of Empires II. It’s novel, but the band’s post-hardcore sound has been well received and the final one-two of Survival and Caffeine ensures they finish with a flourish.
Sole headliners CANVAS take a leaf out of their predecessor’s book and bring everyone around them in to hide the fact that there are only ten people in front of them as their set starts. Like SKYWALKER, their use of strobe light creates a striking effect that matches the intensity of their post-hardcore, especially with the ARCHITECTS-esque Hospital Beds, but like WINCHESTER they’d be far more effective with a fuller room at their disposal. Frontman Ricky Clarke is a most curious fellow as well; spending the whole set hunched over his mic stand, he commands a presence so magnetic it’s impossible not be enthralled by him, especially as he’s got a belting scream behind his unassuming figure. They have songs too; Loveless is the stand out and would, on any other day, incite bedlam in a pit and go down an absolute storm, but the lack of audience puts paid to that in a rather heartbreaking way; no headline band deserves such a scant crowd. The rest of the tour should seem CANVAS fare much better, but it’s a difficult night for them and indeed everyone else.
See our photo gallery from the night’s action in Cardiff from Serena Hill Photography here: