LIVE REVIEW: Lonely The Brave, Sŵn Festival Cardiff, 22/10/16

One of the venues for Cardiff prodigious Sŵn (meaning ‘Sound’ in Welsh) Festival was Tramshed, where Cambridge rockers Lonely The Brave headlined the Saturday night. Unfortunately we arrived at the gig a little after doors as Black Foxxes were kicking off their set, and what a start to the evening that was!

Black Foxxes recently released their debut album I’m Not Well, and material from that album comprised their set. Bringing together many different influences ranging from grunge through indie and alternative rock, seeing Black Foxxes perform is impressive. Vocalist and guitarist Mark Holley boasts a great range and an imperious command over his performance, combined with the proficiency of the rest of the trio, makes for a proficient display. The band finished their set with a rendition of their title track I’m Not Well, and the eclectic energy of the track led to a chilling finale. There was a sense of distance between the audience and the band however, who were rather quiet between songs, without great amounts of charisma to tide them over. [7/10]

Up next were Casey, a band from South Wales professing a fusion of ethereal alternative rock and post-hardcore elements. Their set was infused with a tangible sense of atmospheric tension set out through Tom Weaver’s raw vocals. This quintet also put out an album recently, but they’re well practiced on their new tracks, flying through their set with barely a misplaced note. Whilst Weaver might look somewhat nervous on stage between songs, he interacted with the crowd well, and there was nothing tentative about his performance within songs themselves. Being the heaviest band on the bill for a festival show. Casey made their time on stage their own, with their heartfelt spoken-word sections ringing out clearly. These five gentlemen made an understated yet strong bid for highlight set of the evening. [8/10]

Sub-headlining for Lonely The Brave were Fatherson, a Scottish rock band. They manage to instill their cleaner performance with energy, and something that stood out about the band were how much fun they were having on stage. The grins across the faces of the band were infectious, lightening the room with an abundantly positive atmosphere. Fatherson dedicated most of their set-list to their recent album Open Book, but didn’t miss out on some fan-favourites from their debut I Am An Island. The Scots rocked their way through their set in a reverie of dulcet melody and expressive musicianship. It’s fair to say that their music lacks the raw intensity of the bands that preceded them, but this did little to infringe on their set. As long as these men were on-stage, they were having a great time and the audience were too. [7/10]

It’s only fair that the headline act stole the show on Saturday. From their first song to their last, Lonely The Brave‘s set was an unparalleled show of euphoric excellency. The band paid respects to both of their albums fairly equally, and whilst material from The Day’s War garnered a slightly bigger response than songs from their sophomore record Things Will Matter, the band are unlikely to be disappointed with the audience interaction for either. Some of the bigger tracks from the second record, like Black Mire were equally impressive to anything the band have performed before, and it’s with a practiced hand that Lonely The Brave move through their set.

Guitarist Mark Trotter handles the audience interaction for the band, and he is humble on behalf of the whole quintet. The band have had a respectably linear career thus far, and cannot be accused of shooting to any kind of fame. Lonely The Brave are a very hard-working band, and for those invested in them, it’s truly rewarding to see how it’s paying off. Highlight songs from the gig included the emotionally-enriched The Blue, The Green and an anthemic show of Dust & Bones. They played their ambitious cover of Comfortably Numb, and it’s a respectful homage to Pink Floyd with just enough originality.

Hearing the opening riffs of Backroads flow out will always be a special moment at a Lonely The Brave show, and it’s a song that clearly means a lot to fans and band alike. It’s not their set-closer any more however – Black Saucers  was a good choice, thematically darker than some of their material, it was an intense farewell to the gig. In all, Lonely The Brave are undeniably a stellar live band, and watching them perform is a true pleasure. [9/10]