Peace in the valleys.. not!
I hadn’t really got that excited about this gig, other things going on in our family meant it rather snuck up on me. But once we’d got in the car and underway at lunchtime on Saturday I must admit I was gearing up for a good mosh, it’s been a long time since Rock City after all. Even the increasingly awful weather and occasional aqua-planing down the roads didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Ella chose to use the trip to start to testing out her Go-Pro (video below), an experiment that was curtailed by a technical glitch, but shows some real promise for a fun way of documenting gigs and festivals.
Despite the rubbish weather it was a clear run through to Cardiff and a pretty easy job to get parked up and checked into our hotel. Opting to have a bit of chill time we’d noticed the rain had stopped a bit, which was cause for optimism. Alas, by the time we were ready to emerge it was once again pissing it down – after a bit of a wander we found (after a couple of attempts) Hopbunker. It had been recommended to us on Facebook by fellow Hell Hounds Martin and Diane, who work there and are very proud of their bar.
And with good reason – just opposite the castle and down some stairs you’ll find a grotto of real ales, craft ales and ciders – but without the wanky pretentions that seem to attach to such bars in my experience. A fun relaxed atmosphere, and just £3 a pint from a fine selection of pumps – I tried a pint of Ella (had to be done didn’t it?) a Ginger beer and an IPA whose name escapes be before switching to Reveller cider – which was lovely. Dave and Sally arrived with us, and countless folks of a Ferocious Dog persuasion followed. Once the Rugby was over the bar was awash with Ferocious Dog related music. Highly recommended pub if you find yourself in Cardiff, and the urinals in the gents were a work of genius – and alas, the only thing I took a photo of in there!
It was a short walk to the venue too, which was good given the weather – The Full Moon is a small place, there was the usual confusion at venues that seems to follow when you get sent a ticket that says ‘don’t print this out’ – luckily I was able to retrieve the email on my phone which appeased the lady on the door and so we were on our way up the stairs to almost immediately walk into The Leylines, providing support for the evening. This gig, after all, was rescheduled from November owing to Ken’s laryngitis.
Once we’d helloed our way around the room I headed to the bar, next to the stage, to realise it was a compact area – with two drum kits on it the stage looked tiny, and with no barrier. The cider was nice though, and it was good to have a few drinks and catch up with folk I’ve not seen in what seems like far too long! The ceiling wasn’t as low as countless people had told me (not that I had any plans to be bothering the ceiling!), although it was bedecked with bunting and assorted hanging things that I’d almost certainly have torn from their fixings!
The Leylines took the stage and assaulted us with the kind of energetic and melodic high energy folk that they are building burgeoning reputation for. High energy singalongs like Let It Go and The Reasons nestled with the intricate balladesque Save Your Soul (which apparently gets Addie Burns a bit tearful). Songs that have already become anthems like My Own Worst Enemy, Sorry My Friends and of course Sat in a Field are belted out with gusto, getting the crowd moving and singing wonderfully – none more so (on the dancing front at least) being the instrumental Stone Circle.
A rip-roaring support set which went down very well with the crowd – and the bonus being we get to see them again next weekend at Dogfest! After that they head on down to The Metway in Brighton where they’ll be putting these songs down in a studio for their first album. Frankly I can’t wait to hear the result – to compliment their excellent songwriting and playing they’ve got Sean Lakeman and Al Scott on board too for producing and mastering. If you’ve not already pre-ordered then you really ought to!
Before long that low rumbling of the Ferocious Dog intro track was booming through the sound system making the floor shake. It did feel a bit like coming home, I’m not going to deny it – soon enough the band took the stage, with Dobby standing in for Les who was at another gig playing with Abdoujaparov, and launched into that old familiar starting point of Gallows Justice. It was good to let loose and get amongst it in the mosh pit. Really good. The lack of barrier was proving a bit of an issue in the confined space though, and at some point during Poor, Angry and Young a spillage onto the electrics caused a short and an unplanned pause.
Once the sound man had resolved it (good job!), the band made their way back to the stage and Waggy installed himself as a human shield. A Verse for Lee proved quite emotional for Ken, he was rallied through though with unswerving vocal support from the crowd which was a truly wonderful moment to behold, composure suitably restored to bring it through to The Glass and Lee’s Tune with suitable gusto. Initially we kinda took it in turns to help Waggy out at the front although naturally the moment gets the better of you so he was quite often a loan operator on the front line – certainly once Addie got kiboshed!
Crime and Punishment gave us a chance for a bit of a line dance before Too Late gives the usual pre-warning for Freeborn John. As Dean was in attendance I got myself horizontal with help from Wez, Mick and countless other helping hands giving the surf master the opportunity to crouch under the lowish ceiling for the first surf of the year. A good job well done! The set then whirled by in a dervish of moshing and dancing – frankly, the first gig after a break is always a stark reminder of losing ‘mosh-fitness’ – I’m going to need to get fully fit!
Ruby Bridges brought us into Lyla and then just when you feel the pace is slowing Marikana Massacre kicks in. Slow Motion Suicide saw Mick hoisted by Dean, before we were treated to On the Rocks (although Dan started off with Raggle Taggle Gypsy – which was up next). Criminal Justice was next then Quiet Paddy and finally Hell Hounds. No encore, of course, so the pseudo encore was Freethinker and then a rip roaring rendition of Mairi’s Wedding Part II. All in all, a top night’s entertainment.
We said our goodbyes and departed back toward the hotel – mercifully he rain had abated! The next morning once the hangovers had subsided a bit we made our way back down the M4, diverting for lunch in Avebury – it seemed thematic with its association with Leylines and of course, it is a stone circle too. A magical place that I probably count as my favourite, we had a nice wander amongst the stones and then lunch at The Red Lion, the only pub in a stone circle. Alas we couldn’t get the table set above the ancient well, but a lovely meal and break from the journey.
And now Dogfest looms excitingly on the horizon. Below is the fruits of Ella’s Go-Pro labours – unfortunately a malfunction lost her Ferocious Dog footage but offers an exciting taster of the kinds of things that we can start to expect from our wanderings over the course of this year, this time set to the inimitable Gaz Brookfield‘s Let The East Winds Blow. You can check out her photos too just here.