Undertone, Cardiff 22/5/19 Review and Gallery

Alice Meixner, Fly By Night, Cactus Haus & Tiger Bay

Now, I admit it’s been one or two years since I was a student but my love of music does actually reach back that far (and yes, they did have music there and no, it wasn’t on wind-up gramophones). My concern with “student” bands and performers is that you can’t look too far into the future with them. That said, there have been a significant collection of successful bands that met at university, including Blur, Coldplay and Pink Floyd so there is a precedent. In my own experience, university bands are notoriously transient and short-lived so there is always a worry that when you see them, they may not even still be together by the time the review runs!

So it was with more than a pinch of mindfulness – living in the here and now – that I attended Undertone on Wednesday evening and I am very glad I did. It was an evening of feel-good and largely well performed music – most of which was original as opposed to cover versions.

The evening was started by Alice Meixner, a young lady of exceptional talent and great potential. The first thing I noticed was the tone in her voice which was rich and pleasant. This was most notable in the single cover version, Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’, which was excellent. The other point of note from the collection of songs was a notable evolution in songwriting and direction even in the short-time that she has been writing. There was a nervousness and uncertainty to the performance but there was more than enough here to suggest that a long career in music is possible, especially if the new direction suggested by the song ‘And Repeat’ is a blueprint for future music.

Next up were Fly By Night who were a pop-punk band with plenty of punchy tunes. If there was a love child between Scouting For Girls and Blink-182, however unpalatable the image, it would be these guys. There was an element of technical difficulty with the failure of a distortion effect which may or may not have affected the show but the band dealt with it in stoic fashion and songs like ‘Kill The Director’ and ‘Flowers’ made for a fun set.

Second on the bill were Cactus Haus, whose energetic set hid some great musicianship and reasonably complex drum lines. Songs like Sink showcased a band that really enjoy what they do. My favourite song of the set was the bands closer, ‘It’s All Gravy’ and it was safe to say that they continued the fun feel of the evening. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for these guys.

Last band of the night were Tiger Bay and the strong musicianship indicated a band who could go a long way if they chose to. The band clearly had a great time and their interations indicated a great camaraderie. As with the other performers, the set was original and it was great to see young bands with such a drive to create new material. Songs like ‘Rum & Coke’ and ‘So Edgy’ showcased another band with great potential and some fantastic songs. The audience had a great time and that speaks volumes for the mood created by the music on a solid evening for local music.

I would not hesitate to recommend seeing any of these artists and I look forward to seeing what each of them do next.