Live : Patrobas15.07.2017 : Ty Coch, Porthdinllaen near Morfa Nefyn
I walked along the sands from Nefyn to get to Ty Coch, officially the third best beach pub in the world; as I edged past the final stubby headland suddenly the plangent music of the Patrobas instrumental Difyrrwch filled the whole sheltered bay ahead. It was only the start of a soundcheck - but the effect was fantastical - a scene you'd normally need to stumble through the back of a wardrobe in a children's adventure book to find.
Ty Coch sits at the centre of the small former fishing village of Porthdinllaen, abutting the beach; just outside of the pub there's a canvas awning stretched over a raised area serving as a stage, and normally a stunning view back down the Llŷn peninsula - this evening sea mist was drifting close to shore, reinforcing the sense of idyllic otherness the whole location has.
I had seen Patrobas play only the week before - a short, impressive festival set at Gŵyl Arall, heavily focused on their debut album Lle awn ni nesa'? - if there is a measured scale that runs from party to high art for contemporary folk, this outside performance was definitely five or six notches nearer the raw fun end than that. Clearly they are versatile; Patrobas' music draws together elements of rock, pop and folk - talented musicians, they could take any one of the genres and run with it for a notable career, but it is the skilful fusion of all three that makes the songs so driven, exciting and authentic.
Back to Porthdinllaen - in front of a hen party mosh pit the tracks from the new album, especially the three that open it, Creithiau, Mi fydd hi'n fora, Paid Rhoi Fyny, more than recreated the elation of the record. If Lle awn ni nesa'? is 'Open hearted, uplifting and infectious music written under a big sky - undeniably magnificent' - live Patrobas add extra zest, connection to the audience, and a compelling exuberance; on stage Iestyn Tyne plays his fiddle with rare class and life, Carwyn Williams drums in fervent, precise concentration, Wil Chidley leads with guitar and voice as if it is what he was born to do, and Gruffydd Davies stands to the side, maybe slightly shy of the limelight yet, but underpinning the music with flowing bass lines.
The overall effect is potent - at Ty Coch people danced from the first note, they came up and bought CDs after only two or three songs; a couple of covers (Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show & Tafarn Yn Nolrhedyn by Gai Toms) pushed it all further as the finale approached, with literally the whole crowd dancing and singing, from children to people in their late sixties - there was a ridiculous degree of real joy and spontaneity. Surrounded by a shared mood of celebration it was impossible not be moved.
Afterwards trailing back along the beach, in almost darkness, it was easy to reflect - a debut album, a hundred or more gigs played - it's early days still, but Patrobas have a trajectory and momentum that is extraordinary; musically they are already a necessity - see them live if you can.
PATROBAS I Paid Rhoi Fyny