RADIO RHYDD Tour Diary —- NEW ALBUM Launched & OUT NOW!
March 26, 2013
AFIACH are very pleased to announce that Radio Rhydd’s album is OUT NOW and available through us. To celebrate the release we put together a mini tour of South Wales for them. Singer and ranter Cai O’Marah wrote this tour diary for you guys to enjoy!
21st March, The Wells Hotel, Riverside, Cardiff – The first stop on our debut album’s release tour was The Wells Hotel in Riverside, Cardiff, being supported by a couple of acoustic acts. The first act of the night was Aran Stinker, delivering a set of lyrically aggressive, but darkly humorous folk-punk. Second on the bill was Cosmo, with quirky political folk-protest songs which got people dancing and smiling. We were up next: and as we were setting up people began piling into the small room. The set itself is a bit of a blur, but I can remember as we were about to start, telling people to dance and go mental, and also reminding people that our album was being released that night. This is something that I continually did throughout the reminder of the tour. “REMEMBER; Radio Rhydd’s album on sale on that table”!!! Our first song of the night was ‘Casineb’ and the first gig ever for us to use a different opening track to the album’s title track – Trapped in the Game. It worked well, as it’s a slap in the face, grungy track somewhere along the lines of Crazy Horse or Nirvana maybe. As the band were ploughing through the opening bars I stood at centre with my hood up swaying my head backwards and forwards waiting in anticipation for the rhymes to kick in. After smashing through the opener we were greeted with cheers as I threw my coat onto the floor, already dripping in sweat, and we threw ourselves into the reminder of the set. Possibly the most memorable moments of the gig was getting everyone to join in singing the chorus to ‘Annibyniaeth’ and ‘Politician,’ Côr Wells Cont!! Ffycin Spot On!!
The atmosphere was electric, friendly, supportive and well up for it, dancing and bobbing around the small room. Just like our last visit to Cardiff and The Wells Hotel. I remember at one point saying “alright, this ain’t a fucking Justin Biebar gig” because of the rapturous cheers emitted from the gathering of people up front. Haha!! It was funny, fun, lively, energetic and the crowd were really into it. We had our backs against the wall, standing less than inches from the crowd, (in fact we were virtually inside the crowd) but I think this is the type of gigs that we thrive in doing. Gigs where the people present actually give a shit. In the end after throwing our instruments onto the floor and thanking the crowd with a quick ‘peace and love’ message we got ready to relax after a tiring day of travelling down south. The headline band, 51st State, were awesome as usual. 2-piece punk band from Somerset. We discussed together the possibility of arranging a couple of 51st State // Radio Rhydd gigs in the future – in both our home regions – Bethesda and Somerset. Maybe in the summer. That would be awesome. Anyway, another amazing AFIACH night at The Wells. After the night we were dragged (although not much dragging was necessary) to go out on the town. We ended up partying till about 7 in the morning. During that time we managed to record a drunken’ cello-beatbox-rap’rapping hip hop session-song with Ellie Mai. (the genius behind METANOIA) I should put that up on soundcloud in the near future – Roc a Rol cont!!! Fair to say, we started the tour with a bang.
22nd March, Warehouse 54, Newport – Waking up with one fuck of a hangover was not the best of ways to start day 2 of the tour. But after dragging our feet through the rain-puddled streets of Cardiff to the Food Not Bombs stall behind Central Market we quickly recovered after some amazing soup and a pint afterwards. Newport – none of us had ever been there before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. However, I knew that one of my heroes – Joe Strummer – loved the place, and even lived there for a while. We headed for the venue in the car about 6’oclock for a half 6 sound check. When we arrived we were greeted by a guy that looked like he belonged in the deep south USA, with his long hair in a ponytail, beer belly, swigging on a can whilst talking with us and large silver rings on his stubby fingers. Oh and he was always cracking jokes and laughing to them – himself. He was a funny character. He instructed us to unload the car and dump everything onto the stage, so as we could move the car soon as because it was parked in an unloading space, and only allowed to be there for a short amount of time. The venue itself was large with something like three or four floors towering above the stage. Red stage lights glared down from one of the balconies. The venue is also used as a late night bar, or club. The sound check went well, and was done after a couple of songs. The music eventually kicked off with our own Rhys Bowen Harries delivering a set of acoustic songs that really did engage people. It was amazing. His trick of pretending to finish a song, wait for the applauses, then heading back into it worked well. It got people smiling. Efa Supertramp was amazing as usual. The band afterwards – Volente – had a guy on a kit and a women singing and playing guitar. It was really psychedelic in its own way, really good stuff. By the time we got onto the stage a congregation of people stood at the bar talking amongst each other.
My first effort of introducing the band and engaging the crowd fell mostly on deaf ears, except for the people at the front – which were the acts that played before us, Crav, Julian and the other guy that organized the event, and my parents. Haha!! Everyone else was too interested in downing their pints it would seem. Anyway, when we kicked off we got a few people at least glancing in the direction of the stage, and a couple even making the effort to applaud somewhere beyond the front line. But some people came and went during the gig, some even sitting down as close to the stage as they could, and a couple looking down from the balcony above. Needless to say, we didn’t sell any albums in Newport.
23rd March, METANOIA, Cwmaman Institute, Aberdare – We headed for an early night after Newport, despite us having information and directions to a massive party in Central Cardiff. RADIO CALL (sensible) not RADIO RHYDD (free). We had to catch a twelve o’clock bus from Cardiff Castle to the Rhondda Valleys for what was to become an amazing full day and night of live music, art and poetry at the Cwmaman Institute in the Valleys. The bus was pre-arranged by the organizers – Bronwen ‘Little Eris’ and Elen Mai. The event, METANOIA, was to try and raise awareness to the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. After arriving we went for lunch; Rhys and Ant got some meaty shit at some shop, and I got the best veggie burger in the world at some VERY vegan-friendly café down the road from the Institute, it came with hummus. AMAZING CONT. Afterwards, a local took a group of us up into the valley through a sculpture park as others were busy setting up inside the Institute. We walked for a good amount of time through frosty grass glistening like glass and a cold wind blowing across the valley. The sculptures in the park were well crafted, and the local explained that it was a community project, and the entire area had helped in either crafting, moving or positioning them. Along the way I saw several allotments for growing food as well, although most of it was submerged under blankets of snow. Organic community in the valleys?! It’s good to see someone other than the middle classes, that can afford the time, doing stuff like that. The local took us up to a man-made lake just before the path went up a rocky-slope heading into the snow-drenched trees. We could look out across the entire valley from there. It was beautiful, peaceful, quiet and fucking cold. Now, back at the Institute the acts had began. I would be here all day if I mentioned every single act, or detail, but I will say that there were some amazing and inspirational poetry, art, music and speeches there that day. Dave Skull, for example, came all the way down from London to deliver an inspirational and passionate speech about the stigma surrounding mental illness, the closed doors that surround people with mental health and the help, or lack of, that they receive from the so-called ‘NHS.’ We were the first live band of the day to play, so it took them ages to get the stage ready for us. The stage was massive, in a big hall on the top floor of the Institute.
A guy that looked like a Beatle introduced us by saying ‘Radio Rhydd has taken a long time to set up, but when they start playing I’m sure you’ll realize that the wait was well worth it. I saw them play at The Wells on Thursday, and I can honestly say that they are the best band I’ve seen … in the last week” haha!! People came to the front to watch us after the introduction. The gig was amazing. Again, we were at a place where the people there were really into it. Again, I got them singing on a couple of songs. We swapped instruments 3/4th of a way through our set to play our new song ‘Accident Waiting to Happen’ and ‘Byd ‘di Blino.’ During which time our spectators at the front had dispersed. The two songs are also much slower than our average number. Anyway, we got them back by saying “where the fuck has the Radio Rhydd’s choir gone to? We need your help again.” I got them through a rendition of ‘politician (brainwash the nation)’ before we played it. I think we finished off with ‘Ffwcia’r Olympics’ which is a song that more people know, mainly because they’d heard it on the ‘Cymru Afiach’ CD. So, we got people singing again to finish off. What a gig. What a crowd. People kept coming up to us all night saying how much they’d enjoyed the set. The rest of the night was fucking amazing. We had a slight disaster when the mixer or the PA or something blew. But they replaced it. Headjam was fucking amazing. Heroes of the Reclaim the Streets documentary. And in my opinion they lived up to the hype. Really cool people as well.
24th March, FUCK THE G8, Red and Black Umbrella, Cardiff – Our final night on the tour was a squat in Splott, Cardiff. A highly political gig. Our favourites. The event’s title, FUCK THE G8, is self-explanatory. For those that don’t know, the G8 is an organization comprised of 8 of the world’s wealthiest nations that reinforces and protects an economic, social and political system that benefits from keeping its majority people subservient, in poverty and chains, both physical and mental. Fuck the G8. We were on first. We went through a quick sound check, and then straight into the set. The room was fucking cold, so I told people to dance around a bit so then the room would warm up. When we started I was wearing several layers, by the end of the first song (and after jumping off the stage and into the crowd a couple of times) I felt the need to strip down to just one. It was fucking hot. We were playing on a wooden stage a couple of inches off the ground and a huge black banner behind us serving as a back drop with FUCK THE G8 written in white paint on it.
We got some people dancing and singing along again. It was a good gig. We were fucking knackered afterwards though. Rhys soon recovered though, after smashing through two bottles of wine. Haha!! Again, people at the gig were familiar with ‘Ffwcia’r Olympics,’ I even saw one French guy head banging and throwing his fists in the air and singing the chorus to the song. IT WAS FUN. The other bands of the night were amazing – Grand Collapse, Rash Decision and 2 Sick Monkey. 2 Sick Monkey even gave Radio Rhydd a shout out during their set. We moshed (- well, me and Rhys did) a lot all night. And our first ever proper tour was finished. To finish off our holiday in the south we went to some Middle Eastern place for falafels, and we codi cwilydd ar Crav. Ant went for a piss, and he came out of the saloon-styled door of the toilets with his fingers replicating guns and he shouted across the restaurant, ‘howdy partners’ or something like that. The entire place went quiet, except for us lot laughing like maniacs in the corner, and Crav looking about awkwardly, but grinning.
The first tour was a success. Now remember – Radio Rhydd album’s on sale on afiach.co.uk. £6.50 includes postage and packaging …
Heddwch a Cariad Cont // Peace and Love Cunt