Penarth, The Windsor Arms
6th July 2013
….perhaps, the good times are back? Louder Than War’s Ian Critchley once again travels a ridiculous distance to watch TV Smith in action.
The entire journey down to Penarth in South Wales, which took about three and a half hours of straight, full-throttle, driving down the motorway, had me constantly reminding myself of a quote from the movie Hot Fuzz:
“This is the most important piece of equipment you will ever own. This notebook has saved my skin more times than I care to remember.”
Except I’d forgotten mine, due to trying to figure out what concoction of store-bought drugs I could take to minimise the symptoms of the flu / cold / hayfever combo that was making me feel like the reaper had his bony grasp on my balls. So this is being written directly from memory the day after, a dangerous task for any would-be journalist, but here it is…
“Where have you come from?” Was the first thing the promoter asked as we exchanged pleasantries and £5 for entry. “Manchester way.” “JESUS!”
There’s something strange when you tell people where you’ve come from if it’s outside a twenty mile radius. They look at you as if you’re feral. They think of you as nothing but an insane devotee who stalks musicians up and down the country and, of course, they’d be right.
There was quite a wait before the show started and this was spent sat with Tim. I tried getting him to talk about some drug stories from his youth but he wasn’t biting. In fact the whole subject seemed to make the man go somewhat introverted and worrying I’d scratched a dark, long forgotten itch we switched the subject and got back to positives.
The opening act was a young Welsh local named Efa Supertramp. Unlike the name entailed the girl didn’t look like a waif or stray and took to the stage with the confidence of a seasoned pro. Her songs were an odd blend of Joni Mitchell-esque folk and a raw punk sound akin to more modern artists such as Louise Distras, Against Me!’s Tom Gabel / Laura Jane Grace, in the early days of the band, to name a couple. But it worked, and the transition between intricate melody and full-blown aggression was pretty damn seamless. A portion of the crowd seemed to really dig her, even the songs sang entirely in Welsh, though others seemed disinterested, talking loudly to their friends over Ela’s set.
But in fact it wasn’t disinterest, but pure ignorance, as they continued even into TV Smith’s set. One woman with a cowboy hat would not shut up, but thankfully she fell out of earshot after the first twenty minutes of the Adverts man’s constant jam.
Because Tim doesn’t let up once. Even in between songs, when he addresses the audience, he displays a curious rhythmic way of speaking which links the previous to the next without losing a single grain of gusto. It’s like the entire set is a huge build up of energy, which is finally released at the end when TV pulls out the biggest hits from his days with the Adverts.
This was shown in the crowd also, with the foghorn cowboy long forgotten the front-line viewers danced their half-drunk hearts out, trying to keep on the same level of enthusiasm as the man on the stage. They failed, for the most part, taking turns at slinking side-stage for regenerative sit downs, but they gave it their all and Penarth was easily one of the most intense crowds I’d seen in a long time. So much so that I’m considering packing my shit up and moving down to this small pocket of the Welsh country where punk-rock not only seems to be alive, but nothing less than a screaming banshee of pure anarchistic rebellion.
After the show we thanked the promoter. He thanked us for coming and offered us a guestlist spot for any of his future shows and also a place to stay. It was probably just a hollow, yet very kind, gesture. Little does the poor bastard know I plan to take him up on that offer as soon as humanely possible…
Oh, and here’s a video of ‘Clone Town’ taken from the show courtesy of the webzine The Backroom:
All words by Ian Critchley. More work on Louder Than War by Ian can be found here