R.I.P. Samoans

R.I.P. Samoans

There’s less than a week to go now before Samoans play their final ever show, and well, it’s also gonna feel like the end of an era for many of us outside of the band. The first time I saw them, my first Sŵn festival, the set featured all brand new songs from their (at that point unreleased) debut album but the singer had lost his voice, so I had little idea how it was meant to sound. The next was one of my favourite festival slots of all time, regular readers may well have heard this story before; but watching the songs from Rescue live in a marquee, with the sun setting behind at the end of a bright spring day, turned Gwdihŵ‘s car park into a miniature urban paradise. Samoans are also the last band I ever saw play in Four Bars before that was closed, as well as many more times over the years and in various places.

Despite the difficulties the band faced during the making of the first album, from having to take a year out due to injury to changing drummers during this time, they (with a newly-added second guitarist) seemed to have been pulled closer by experience. Since then though, cancelled shows and rumours of inter-band hostility have given a more fractured countenance, and second album Laika just didn’t have the same chemistry as its predecessor. So when the band announced they would be playing just two more shows before splitting up, it was disappointing but not entirely unexpected news. For a group who were once Cardiff’s future stars to call it a day is a loss to us all, and I for one look forward to hearing whatever musical projects each of them persues next, as well of course to one last party first.

The show takes place this coming Saturday (May 12th) at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, more details can be found here. Thanks for the good times, guys.

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Like An Island

Like An Island

I couldn’t tell you the last gig I went to where every song on the setlist was familiar to me. Ok, I mean before Wednesday last week, or I wouldn’t be mentioning it now. The down-side of finding ridiculous amounts of great new bands and artists is that, well, there are still only twenty-four hours in each day, and I still have to work, eat and sleep. I have so little time to pay attention to all the songs I’d like to, that I can rarely keep up – somehow with Bryde, I managed it.

Jumping on her bandwagon fairly early (thanks to Adam Walton’s radio show), I’ve caught everything from solo gigs to the evolution of the full band, recognised ‘new’ singles having already heard them live, and so by the Cardiff leg of debut album Like An Island‘s launch tour I’m fully knowledgeable. The record itself documents the change in line-up – a couple of songs have been included from previous singles and EPs, enough to give a nod to tried-and-tested favourites without retreading the same ground. The decision not to rework these with the full band says that this is still very much Sarah’s project; I hope later releases hold onto that as I have to confess, I’m personally biased towards the tracks that she’s clearly written alone. The depth of emotion and expression in her voice just hits harder when there’s less going on musically.

Hence I couldn’t believe that, back some years ago now when the band featured just Sarah and her electric guitar (I don’t remember if I was ever around quite early enough to have seen the acoustic), in a corner of the City Arms I had to shush two people chatting in front of me. There was no need for that last week at Clwb Ifor Bach; nothing but rapt silence through every poignant moment, as a packed room appreciated the winding journey that led to the creation of this wonderful record.