Wales has had a severe vacancy for too many years. Since the Manics and Stereophonics got comfortable filling arenas and Super Furry Animals split, Wales has badly needed an exciting, young, new band of national treasures. The latest contenders for the title have rocked up to Clwb Ifor Bach tonight for one in a string of Independent Venue Week shows and, unlike the other applicants who’ve sidled up and disappeared over the years, we think they may end up walking away with the accolade.
Local valleys boys Ratoon get the night off to a rowdy start with a promising set of solid rock’n’roll tunes, boundlessly energetic frontman Jack Garret throwing poses with an extraordinarily red sparkly Fender held aloft, rolling down off the stage and into the crowd as the group bash out future single ‘Not So Pretty Anymore’. Even more impressive is how confident they sound performing with a stand-in guitarist while their permanent lead stringsmith Sam Davies is ill and out of action.
Invited all the way over from Camden Town, The Gulps represent the spirit of London, Spain, Italy and the myriad other places of the world they hail from in the welsh capital tonight. Their singles to date are all delivered with effortless flare in leather jackets and jeans, rhythm guitarist Francesco Buffone remaining the image of cool the entire evening as his shades never leave his face next to vocalist Javier Sola’s menacing sneer. When The Gulps took a larger stage supporting nineties masters Cast last year at The Tramshed, their sound took on an almost disco-rock sheen, the glitter ball flamboyance of recent single ‘Candy’ striking the fore, but amid the spit and sawdust downstairs at the Welsh Club the punk animus of ‘Stuck In The City’, ‘Mirror Mirror’ and April’s forthcoming release ‘Forever Young’ rule the night and win over a rabble of ferocious welsh music fanatics.
But this evening belongs to Trampolene and, to the tones of the Welsh national anthem, Dragon flag emblazoned with band member surnames ‘Jones, Thomas and Williams’ and the obligatory Cardiffian taunts of “You Jack Bastard” (Jack being a Swansea nickname and the name of their lead singer, for our non-Cymry readership), the boys take the stage for a wild tour of their ever-growing catalogue of cult classics. Highlight of 2021 album ‘Love No Less Than A Queen’ – ‘Gotta Do More Gotta Be More’s hypnotic pulse whips up the cheers and a riotous energy from the get-go. Recent single ‘Sort Me Out’ is proof, if by this point it was even still in doubt, that the Swansea lads can put together a massive, sing-along single, but it’s during ‘You Do Nothing For Me’ when things get properly turbulent, a circle pit opening up and then, in full command of his crowd, singer Jack Jones beckons everyone to floor, before they pop up again like a room full of Jack-In-The-Boxes (sure there could be some kind of pun there if we tried harder) when the track’s filthy blues riffage strikes up.
The spoken word continues to run deep with Trampolene as special-K glorifying poem ‘Ketamine’ has everyone screaming out the name of the gutter-drug horse tranquilliser and ‘Money’ nearly gets the room dancing instead of bashing each other up for a moment. After a rendition of new song ‘Together’, recently touted by frontman Jones as a potential future Welsh national football song it occurs to the group that, getting carried away on a celebratory wave of national identity, they’ve ended up running over time with still a chunk of undiscardable tracks to squeeze in. Their other spoken word budget-masterpiece ‘Poundland’ gets dispensed at triple speed, the angelic ‘Beautiful Pain’ is spliced into a medley with stirring classic Welsh folk song ‘Yma O Hyd’ that the band admit they’ve spent ages perfecting, finally descending into the rollick raising curtain closer ‘Alcohol Kiss’ and the group leave the stage to a local-ish heroes departure.
Considering the national devotion the Swansea three-piece inspire, could we possibly see Trampolene play Cardiff Castle in another 10 years? This reviewer can only hope. If Wales wants a new band of local boys to believe in, they better start looking at Trampolene.
Still haven’t heard anything by these three fine specimens of musicianship? Check out a track each from Ratooon, The Gulps and Trampolene below on Spotify: