Swn Festival, Cardiff, Day 1 (22/10/09)

Charlie Ashcroft | Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Swn Festival, Cardiff, Day 1 (22/10/09)

With Womanby Street located and wristband acquired, Daily Music Guide began the first evening of the Welsh capital's Swn Festival at Clwb Ifor Bach, watching a hyperactive performance by electro trio GLASS DIAMOND.

Having overcome some microphone issues early on in the set, the band delivered their combination of dreamy synths and live drumbeats with substantial confidence and bounce, providing the crowd with something akin to Yeah Yeah Yeahs overdosing on a diet of space rock and megaphones.

The Model Inn was the next port of call, but although there were some initial undertones of melodic quality detectable within THE DEATH OF HER MONEY's fierce riffs, the Newport metallers' set began to sound fairly one-dimensional after a short while, in spite of Kaskie's suitably brutish vocal growl.

The sticky floor of Barfly beckoned. After a slightly uninspiring start, Manchester four-piece LOST KNIVES grabbed their window of opportunity by the knackers and produced a set of noticeable quality.

Thanks to a repertoire built on stadium-ready guitar licks and pounding percussion, their expansive brand of dark, drama-soaked rock became more and more of a joy to watch with every passing song. Both 'She's Not You' and 'Static' brought massive cheers from those in attendance, with the lads on singing duties having been near-faultless throughout.

With a newly-discovered spring in its step, DMG then made the hike over to a decidedly warm Chapter Arts Centre, to take in a portion of POST WAR YEARS. Their set was an apt follow-up what Lost Knives had offered up at Barfly, characterised by the quartet's trademark energy and synth-driven melodies.

Even if their between-song chat tended to blur the boundaries which normally separate the funny and the plain baffling, Post War Years' musical quality shone through in front of a decent-sized audience. Simon was particularly impressive when vocal duties fell his way, while Fred's unerringly frenetic drumming also caught the eye as the set came towards its conclusion.

The evening's main event soon followed, with MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS making her first live appearance in Wales since leaving the country as an ambitious teenager seven years ago.

Having emerged onstage wearing a sheep costume, she subsequently 'de-animaled' and launched into wonderful renditions of 'Seventeen' and 'I Am Not A Robot' in front of an attentive crowd. Newer track 'Champagne' showed off her vocal range considerably, while an unexpected cover of Late Of The Pier's 'Space And The Woods' added some electro-punk spice to the mix.

The brief pauses saw her engage with her audience with typically smiley, down-to-earth charm, all a fair world away from the powerful onstage presence which she has developed ahead of her inevitable assault on the charts.

This appearance at the top of the Swn bill consolidated her reputation as one of the country's finest up-and-coming performers, with her star quality having been confirmed long before the intro of final track 'Mowgli's Road' cuckooed out.