Tag Archives: The Globe

Also Eden and Sankara, The Globe, Cardiff

It was a last minute decision to go to this gig, at the end of what had been a rather rough week. A strong bill with three acts I was keen to see made it worth travelling to another country involving rail replacement buses and a stay in a cheap B&B. Sometimes it’s gigs like this where I’m reminded of the line in Mötorhead’s “We Are The Road Crew” ‘Another hotel I can’t find‘. But in this case I did manage to find the hotel, but got hopelessly lost in the decidedly non-Euclidian geography between the hotel and the venue. I was in a maze of small twisty streets, all alike. Fortunately I did eventually manage to find The Globe in time for the start.

Opener was the solo acoustic guitar virtuoso Matt Stevens. Matt plays acoustic guitar through a series of looping pedals and effects enabling him to turn a single guitar into a multilayered tapestry of sound. At times he uses his pedal board as an instrument as much as the guitar itself, and at one point was on his knees pressing buttons and making Hawkwind-like electronic effects. For the second half of his set, he was joined by virtuoso bassist and former Panic Room member Alun Vaughan, who played some imaginative bass parts to Matt’s solo compositions and added an interesting extra layer to the music.

I first saw Sankara at the 2012 Cambridge Rock Festival when they were still a four-piece, and the recently-formed band showed a lot of promise. Almost immediately after the release of their début album “Guided by Degrees” they changed personnel, with a new bassist and the addition of a second guitarist.

They now sound like a completely different band. Having two guitars fills out the sound significantly, with Jay and new addition Paul having contrasting and complementary styles. While their music still lies somewhere on the hard rock/AOR spectrum, they’ve now got a bigger, tougher and heavier sound than they had either as a four-piece or on record.

Their lengthy set including the majority of both the album and their earlier EP “Enigma”. Gareth Jones again impressed as a frontman, switching between the front of the stage and the occasional number sung from behind the keys. High spots included a very emotive “Lullaby for a Lost Boy”, which Gareth introduced as inspired by his day job in housing; ‘A song about homelessness’. Sankara have come on a lot in a very short time, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Also Eden are another band in the throes of lineup changes. They’ve got a new bassist since I saw them last, and their current run of gigs marks the farewell appearances of founder member, keyboardist Ian Hodson. And although he’s established himself as the voice of the band over the last couple of years, Rich Harding wasn’t their original singer.

His politically-charged lyrics recall Geoff Mann-era Twelfth night, some of his theatrical vocal delivery reminds me a lot of very early Marillion, and his dedication of “1949″ to everyone who works in the NHS was a nice touch. Musically, despite sometimes lengthy songs and rich arrangements they avoid most of the obvious clichés of 80s neo-prog.

Their set drew heavily from their third album “Think of the Children”. For the older “Skipping Stones” they were joined on stage by their original singer Huw Lloyd Jones. They also played a substantial amount of brand-new material from the forthcoming “[Redacted]“. On first listen the new songs came over strongly, darker and heavier than their older songs, with “Chronologic” a particular standout.

From this performance Also Eden came over as a band who have significantly raised their game, and provided they manage to negotiate the speedbump of finding a replacement keyboard player they look about to move up to the next level. Certainly “[Redacted]” is now one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year.

In these cash-strapped times shows like this are exactly the sort of thing more bands ought to be doing, putting together a bill of two or three contrasting but complementary acts that give audiences their money’s worth regardless of who is the nominal headliner. It works for audiences, and I think it works for the bands as well.

All photos by Paul Johnson

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The Globe in Cardiff

The Globe in Cardiff is back in business under new management. Their new official website is at www.globecardiffmusic.com. It’s true that the venue was closed for a few weeks for refurbishment, and many people feared the worst and assumed “refurbishment” was a euphemism for “conversion into a trendy wine bar”.

But the work is now complete, and the venue is open for live music again.

However, in a letter quoted on Matt Cohen’s blog, there are still one or two problems.

The previous owner of the Globe is refusing to give me access to the previously established website, we’ve tried everything and it’s become obvious that he has no interest in helping us, even though the website domain is of no use to him anymore.

This previous website is very cleverly worded, hinting towards us being closed and damaging the work I’m putting into promoting the venue. My management are chasing it up through their solicitors but I can’t afford to waste any more time on arguing with someone who wants to make my life difficult. As you can imagine this site is causing me and other promoters major problems with agents requesting their shows to be moved in fear of cancelation, something which I cannot by any means afford to keep happening.

So, if you stumble upon The Globe’s old website and see a message implying the venue has shut down, don’t believe it. It’s alive and well, and bands like Panic Room and The Reasoning will be playing there.

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Mostly Autumn, The Globe, Cardiff, 14-Nov-2010

Olivia Sparnenn at Cardiff The Point

Mostly Autumn are a band who have undergone a major change in the past year, with the departure of much-loved lead singer Heather Findlay and her replacement by former backing singer Olivia Sparnenn.  The new incarnation had already won over a large proportion of their fanbase when toured earlier in the year playing a set of existing material.  Now, with their new double album “Go Well Diamond Heart” released, they completed their transformation to what is has become a completely new band.  As Rachel Cohen of The Reasoning said on stage two days earlier, one shouldn’t fear change, but embrace the opportunities it offers. And Mostly Autumn have done just that.

This was the first time Mostly Autumn have played in Wales for more than three years, and they were met by an enthusiastic crowd. And the band did not let them down.  This was a powerful, impassioned set by a band who were clearly enjoying every moment on stage. Bryan Josh was on fire on guitar, playing as well as I’ve ever heard him play.  Olivia Sparnenn was on equally fine form vocally, emotive one moment, and soaringly powerful the next. Gavin Griffiths kicked up an absolute storm on drums, giving the set a great energy level, and hats off to Anne-Marie Helder, who as well as singing superb harmony vocals still managed to play keys and even flute on a couple of songs despite still having her right arm in a cast because of broken wrist!

I’ve been critical of Mostly Autumn in the past for being rather conservative with their tour setlists, playing too little recent material in favour of established standards. This time they’ve more or less torn up the old setlist, at least by their standards.; Of the two and a half hour set, more than half came from the new album, almost the whole of the first disk plus half the second bonus disk.  Add to that the fact that they’ve retained “Slow Down” from Bryan Josh’s solo album, and the former Breathing Space epic “Questioning Eyes”, and the oldies were very much in the minority.

Pretty much all of the new material comes over extremely well live, and went down well with an audience the majority of whom were probably hearing these songs for the first time. Songs like opener “Deep in Borrowdale” and “Something Better” rocked hard, “Coming Back to Life” and “Forever Young” soared, and perhaps the high spot of the entire evening was the emotional rendition of “When The War Is Over”, a very appropriate song for Remembrance Sunday.

They finished, as they always do, with “Heroes Never Die”, this time with a completely new instrumental beginning arranged because or the absence of Anne-Marie’s flute at the beginning of the tour.  A superb gig, enchanting new and old fans alike, and well rewarding those who’ve stayed loyal to the new lineup. There are quite a few more shows coming up including the showcase of York Grand Opera House on December 4th.  And I can’t wait for that one.

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