Anonymous Iconoclasts play Bargoed for the first time.
Only our second visit to Bourton’s Live Music Bar, but owner Chris already remembers us. But that pretty much sums up the venue, it’s like going to a gig in a mate’s living room: compact, intimate, friendly and pretty much everyone is there for the music.
We arrive as the band are just setting up. We catch up with singer/guitarist Steve. It’s been a while. He looks around the venue apprehensively. It’s only got a capacity of twenty-five and the venue is half empty. I reassure him it will be fine.
The drummer has mistakenly brought the wrong bass drum, but that is not an issue. The venue is also a music school, so they just dig into the huge range of instruments they have available.
As we approach kick off time, more faces arrive. One of them is an old face I used to knock around with many moons ago, but not seen in the flesh for years. Dai informs me the last time he saw me was at a free festival in Bala, which would have been the summer of 1990. Another is the legendary Mike Beasley, football nut and regular at the venue.
The band kick off with the first of their many accomplished original tunes. People finish off their conversations and give the band the attention they deserve.
With a combined age of 350, these guys have been around the block several times. They are unlikely to trouble the Hit Parade anytime soon, but they are just oozing with talent. They are tight and casually knock out polished AOR tunes with a nonchalance that makes it look easy. But study the riffs, the beats and the licks, with the beautifully constructed lyrics over the top and you can see these guys know what they are doing. I can count on one hand the number of AOR bands I like, and these are one of them.
Each number is greeted with heartfelt applause. You might not get many people squeezed into the venue, but it’s not a place you come to for a night on the piss, it’s a place you come to to be among music lovers. And everyone appreciates the band.
There is a short intermission during the set. They don’t have ushers walking around with tubs of ice cream, like St David’s Hall, but if you ask nicely the staff will knock up a nice knickerbocker glory. You don’t get that in the Tramshed!
After the intermission, the band gets back into their groove. But before they can get into the swing of things, Mike Beasley goes apex over base, taking a table’s worth of beer with him and smashing two pint glasses. Some people show concern and try to help him up, after they stop laughing. Staff sweep up the glass and Beasley gets up looking like he had just come first in a wet t shirt competition.
Then, in a chivalrous gesture that is on par with Sir Walter Raleigh putting his cape in the mud for Big Liz the First, guitarist Steve takes off his button shirt (he has a t shirt underneath) and hands it over to the moist Beasley. He then disappears into Trap One to change. I was expecting to be troubled by low flying buttons pinging across the room for the rest of the night but as he came back into the room, to tumultuous applause, the shirt actually suited him.
Anyway. Back to the music. Steve announces they are going to do a Tom Petty cover. “I hope it’s not ‘Free Falling’ ” heckles Beasley. The room is falling about with laughter at his rapier-like wit, whilst simultaneously nodding in appreciation of his knowledge of the Tom Petty back catalogue.
The band take it all in their professional stride and play more originals, along with a version of Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, for good measure.
Eventually, the set comes to a close and there is consensus that it was a pretty wonderful Saturday night out. Good friends, good music, good beer.
The Iconclasts pasted on their social media,
“Just back from our first but not last gig at Bourtons Live Music Café Bar. it was so good to play to such a lovely crowd, totally up for original music. Thanks to all who came along, hope to see you again next time. Thanks also to the staff who were all excellent. One of our most enjoyable evenings for some time and will forever be known as ‘the shirt gig’. If you were there, you’ll know why…”
I think any concerns the band had about playing to such a small crowd were put to bed. A perfect example of quality being more important than quantity.
And Mike Beasley managed to fall over, smash a load of glasses, tip beer over himself and still went home looking sharper than when he left the house.
Dai Vials: “Usually when you hear music for the first time it takes a while to grow on you. This isn’t growing on me. I love it already.”
Clint Iguana: “Bag ‘o shite. I only came to hear the one about keeping tomatoes in the fridge and they didn’t play it.”
Mike Beasly: “Bloody great! I’m going to wear this shirt to my 60th birthday party”.
We thinks they will be back. Will be hard to top tonight’s entertainment though.