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Monday, 19 March 2012

Live Review - Y Niwl, Bath

The Royal Oak, Bath 
Saturday 17th March 

Pic credit: Owen Davies

It can be quite disarming to watch a band take to the stage (such as it is in this cosy Bath ale house) without a microphone or stand in sight; it also poses a problem for anyone in such a band attempting to introduce their songs. Not that Y Niwl are concerned with such fripperies. Arming themselves with space-age guitars, a low-slung jazz drumkit and a reedy sci-fi organ, the four shaggy-haired Welshman have blasted into their rocket-powered opening number within seconds of ambling onto said un-stage and the heat doesn't let up for the next 40 minutes. They're routinely labelled as a surf band – not least by themselves – but these ears picked up on a myriad of reference points beyond the speedfreak Joe Meek/Jack Nitzsche-heavy instrumentals. Shades of Nederbeat, Sunset Strip garage, British beat and B-movie soundtracks are in abundance, and of course there's that indefinably out there Welsh thing going on too – a curious and endearing quality that pitches them halfway between tea-drinking mummy's boys and mushroom-chomping psychedelic warriors. It's no wonder Gruff Rhys has seized upon Y Niwl's prowess to back him up on occasion – he no doubt recognises his own early musical adventures in Y Niwl's raw prowess.

With last year's debut album still picking up plaudits at every turn it'll be interesting to see how they get on opening for The Jim Jones Revue next month in venues considerably larger than tonight's. I have a feeling they'll be blowing plenty of minds along the way.
Andy Morten

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