Live : Band Pres Llareggub / Chwalfa / Alffa11.06.16: Neuadd Ogwen, Bethesda
The evening was opened by a duo - in reality a drummer and guitar / vocalist minimal rock band, Alffa (from Llanrug) - with a sound stripped of anything superfluous until it just retained rough-edged primitive vitality. Really (and unexpectedly) very, very good.
They were followed by Chwalfa, a young Bangor rock band clearly with their own nascent following. Led by the sort of charismatic singer / guitarist who in another life and place might have been found by Shane Meadows for his early 'This is England' films, they skittered through a set of effective, energised rock songs with enough hooks and sense of melody to make them instantly appealing. Excellent.
They were joined on stage for the last song by a reveller in a Wales football shirt who stood, beatific and proud, holding a Welsh flag over the singer's head until the last guitar chord. 2-1, should have been 4.
Then the headliners.
By the last notes of opener Drygioni (from their entirely brass version of the Super Furry Animals' Mwng released Winter 2015) Band Pres Llareggub had brutally swept aside any notion that they are some sort of novelty act.
The band is driven by a tack sharp rhythm section comprising drums, percussion and a sousaphone taking the bass parts.
From this solid foundation a five piece brass section, occasionally augmented vocally, take the cover versions and artfully twist them until they are utterly their own - in this instance retaining enough of the original that the audience that had come for a Super Furry fix, brassed out or otherwise, could be seen lost in bliss.
Add to their powerful interpretations the fact that they also write and perform their own tunes and you have something innovative and creative. In effect it is both the best brass band disco you could ever imagine, and a musical exploration you cannot help but be drawn fully into, it is so full of energy.
Although there was a good crowd, a few more people might have helped reflect the band's exuberance better early on, but the evening ended with a boy of about ten years old carving a John Travolta like space in front of the stage for his eclectic mix of robot and break dancing, and a unique Bethesda interpretation of Michael Jackson's backward moonwalk. He then appeared on stage and played a short sousaphone solo. The sort of surreal, off kilter but dazzling display that has to happen somewhere to rebalance the universe after a consummate Euro win.
Compelling, entertaining, edgy and authentic - Band Pres Llareggub are worth going a very long way out of your way to see.
BAND PRES LLAREGGUB I Foxtrot Oscar (Feat. Gwyllt)
CHWALFA I Corwynt Meddwl