If you would have told me what has happened in Wrexham over the last twelve months was going to happen a year ago I would not have believed you. Local bands shimmering in the pitch perfect acoustics of Saint Giles church, The Charlatans playing Central Station’s ROPE night, Y Niwl playing the Seven Stars, our very own Gallops playing Japan, and all this bookended by the monumental FOCUS Wales Festival that ran over four days and brought bands from all over the world.
The last twelve months have been a rollercoaster ride for the town’s local music scene. Last month’s FOCUS Wales Festival created a vanguard of events spurred on by a host of local promoters with the type of dogged determination that will make anything work. Combine this with the legacy left by the Eisteddfod and the Wrexham year of culture and you have a guaranteed recipe for success.
Fast forward back to May and it’s already clear that no one has any intention of taking their foot off the gas. May is a month packed with music treats. Forgetting Last Friday kick things off on Saturday after the FA cup final with a gig a Saith Seren, expect original material and plenty of covers of the likes of Stereophonics and Kings of Leon in-between. On Bank holiday Sunday, the guys from the Zodiac Club return to Fat Cat’s rooftop terrace to play a blissed out set of Motown, classic R&B and Northern Soul. For those with children the Oak Tree Festival returns to the celebrated pub on Ruabon Road. With an outside stage and semi legendary bouncy castle, the Oak Tree has something to make people of all ages happy.
The homage to Krautrock and all things electric that is Klub Kosmische returns with a blistering line up on Wednesday 9th May. Hotly tipped duo Golden Fable mix electronica, traditional instruments and almost spiritual vocals and open the event. FOCUS Favourites, WE//ARE//ANIMAL return and Scottish noise masters Errors top the night off. Friday 11th May sees Mother Of Six returning to the Commercial pub for a blistering evening of doom rock after a post FOCUS spell on the naughty step. They are joined by alt-rockers Real 7 and My Best Attempt.
May 19th sees The Reads return to Wrexham for a special gig at Saith Seren. The Reads specialise in expansive, spaced out, electronic, folk rock. Their debut album, ‘Stories From The Border’ features arrangements by Joe Duddell (Elbow, James) and was produced by Jim Spencer (The Charlatans, Jonny Marr, New Order). Playlisted on BBC Radio, XFM, and Amazing Radio; it has received much critical acclaim; ‘Really, really good’ – Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2; ‘Just a wonderful album, every track….’ – Clint Boon, XFM‘; some of the most crafted music I have heard in a long time…phenomenally good’ – Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales.
Central Station’s ROPE night binds the fabrics of sound and vision for not one but four gigs this month. The first on Monday May 7th sees Boyfriend supported by Drive Blind, Tuesday Hangover and Furrows. After a massive hiatus one of the most innovative bands of the 90s return to the live arena. Death In Vegas play Central Station on Wednesday May 16th. Having worked with Primal Scream, Oasis, Dot Allison (the list goes on), this is something of a coup for Central. Support comes from Victorian Hardware and Jed Is Dead. Wednesday 23rd May sees Auzzie rockers DZ Deathrays headline an Alt. Rock showcase that also includes Doppelganger, I Am Austin and The Fag Machine. ROPE finally wrap it up for May with headliners Islet on Thursday 24th, who are joined by DRKMTTR who combine noise, video and guitars to contemplate the subject of dark matter. Believe me, one of the most innovative performances you will ever see. Fresh from a performance at the Camden Crawl, Wrexham pop surf punk quintet Mowbird complete the line up as main support.
And finally onto the last stretch of May. On the Friday 25th, Saith Seren, champions of the Welsh Language genre, bring Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog to the venue. Reminiscent of a Welsh Crazy horse, the band blend blues and traditional folk and Americana and sing this all in their native tongue. Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog have enjoyed national success with airplay on Radio 6 music and more
The last twelve months have been a whirlwind affair for Gallops. From playing Austin, Texas’ SXSW Festival to recently performing in Tokyo as well as playing gigs all over the UK in between. The instrumentalist math rockers return to the Lager Club on Saturday May 26th to play their debut album in full. Fusing everything from Krautrock to Hip Hop this is one showcase not to be missed. Joining them on the bill will be Obelisks. Expect a full supporting cast to be announced over the coming weeks. Tickets £4.00 from Alun’s Records, People’s Market, Wrexham.
So what is THIS? What’s it all about? THIS is a monthly guide that brings you all the arts and music highlights in your area. All THIS is happening now! Get involved and bear witness to the cultural transformation that is happening in your town. Be there!
By Bob Spectrum