Live : Brigyn17.07.16 : Sesiwn Fawr, Dolgellau
Sunday afternoon at Sesiwn Fawr 2016 and the sun was out, warming the crowd and the black tarmac of the courtyard of The Ship. The event's main stage forms one whole side of this space; solid, low-roofed, and letterbox dark in between acts.
Brigyn are two brothers, Eurig and Ynyr Roberts, originally from Snowdonia. They came on mid-bill, dressed in matching suit trousers and waistcoats - as effective as it was slightly incongruous and timeless, as if they had just stepped into the venue from another more formal decade to play for a moment.
The songs they played represented almost the full span of their career from the release of their experimental debut Brigyn in 2004. As a live duo the folk element of what they do comes to the fore - but it would be wrong to pin down their sound too firmly, especially their recorded work; broadly it is contemporary folk but also with electronic elements, and their last album Dulog had a very strong Patagonian mood. What unifies their output is that everything they do has the mark of craftsmanship and precision, and that is seen as much in their live performance as in the studio.
Their Sesiwn Fawr set started with Bohemia Bach, the slightly scornful, impressive bilingual song Ynyr Roberts composed for the project at its very outset, followed by the plaintive mood of Chwysu'n Oer (a Hefin Huws and Les Morrison cover).
They returned to the well stocked shelves of Brigyn for the piano ballad Disgyn wrth dy draed - again full of mournfully expressed regret - before the waltz-time celebratory love song Deffro from Brigyn 4, and then from the same album, Pentre Sydyn, about the first village built by Welsh villagers in Patagonia - it has a subtle swing to it even stripped down live - played by Ynyr on a 'Gazouki' that was donated to Brigyn by the late lamented Alun 'Sbardun' Hughes.
Allwedd was folkier live than on Brigyn 3, where it has a strong electronic form, with percussion and samples, but somewhat disassembled the melody and chorus are still effective and the mood yearning - this was immediately contrasted by the bright summery skiffle of Fflam.
Palpably near the end of the set, penultimate song Y Sgwar was an upbeat heartfelt tribute to the bravery of Merthyr boxer Johnny Owen (taken from Brigyn 2 - for background here is a very well written piece about his tragic last fight), and it brought us to the showstopper: Haleliwia, a Welsh language version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - a sombre song done almost to death on TV talent shows, here unexpectedly fully restored to its birthright; wonderfully and movingly rendered.
Brigyn are an engaging and accomplished live act, and the ending Haleliwia was just a delight; at Sesiwn Fawr, as they left the stage, this finale gathered the sustained warm applause it, and the whole set, deserved.
BRIGYN I Haleliwia