Cardiff’s Supreme Riffmeisters return for first gig in two and a half years, to play Cardiff’s newest grassroots venue.
After eighteen months of lockdown, I’d forgotten how much I hate city centers. And St Mary’s Street is about as city center as you can get when the sun goes down. Wall to wall theme pubs that seem to change their name every week, queues to get into cattle markets disguised as night clubs, and up market fast food joints with up market prices for ‘authentic’ street food from around the world. Luckily, the weather is mild, because most of the scantily clad hen parties would need to postpone their weddings due to pneumonia if there was a frost.
But hidden amongst all the TK Max hedonism, is a new grassroots venue bucking the trend of corporate colonialism. The Deep. Tucked underneath the old Sandringham Hotel is a bar that apparently opened just before lockdown hit, hence my not having heard of it before. Through the night I learn that it used to be a jazz club, which explains the funky décor.
I’m not sure of the venues future plans, but tonight the crowd is here for the music, rather than romantic networking.
Old faces are hugged and everyone is over the moon about being allowed to go out to play without masking up. It’s smiles all around.
Things are not quite back to normal, with a reduced capacity resulting in late comers being turned away – but I like this. Capacity crowds can be like a tin of Sardines. Which ain’t fun.
New kids on the block, Pigeon Wigs, take to the stage, making their entrance with a version of Woo Hoo by the 5,6,7,8s. The crowd are immediately up shaking off those lockdown cobwebs. As is the way with all the best bands, it would be difficult to pigeonhole (excuse the pun) them. They play a high energy, foot stomping rock and roll that has the entire club up and swinging for all they are worth. As they leave the stage, people are left smiling at each other, nodding in appreciation. “hey, that was good” was the general consensus.
Never mind lockdown, The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk, have not played a gig for two and a half years. And in true Milk style, they have apparently forgotten all their old songs. So tonight, we get nine new tunes of monster heavy psychedelic blues that take us back to the sixties and forward to the next decade all in one riff. The riffs are chunkier, the rhythms are even more danceable and the guitar licks reach out and push the envelope as far as they can go without becoming self indulgent. Even though they introduce the last song as being so.
The band suck you in to their world and get your hips shaking involuntarily, lost in a primal groove. Heavy as fuck, but not even remotely metal – a proper good old fashioned power trio.
Grant is simply one of the best guitarists I know, he plays better wasted than many I know play sober. But he is in good company, Luke on drums and Marcel on bass lay down rhythms so natural you would think they were born to do this. The result is a tight organic unit that feels like they have been playing together so long they are telepathic, and is far more than the sum of its parts.
Not many bands can simply dump their entire back catalogue and get a crowd grooving to an entire set of tunes never played to an audience before. But these guys had the confidence to know they could take the crowd with them and the crowd had the confidence that Milk could deliver. And deliver they did.
At the end of the night, I asked Grant if there were plans to record the new material. His response was, ‘when we get out shit together’. So don’t hold your breath. These guys are disorganized and chaotic, but when the time comes to do the business, they are totally in the moment and make each gig special – an event. We can’t wait for the next one.