GRUFF RHYS - Ucheldre Centre
Live Review

GRUFF RHYS – Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead

On arrival the venue is already packed a full thirty minutes before the support act even hits the stage. A sell out in these parts of remotest Wales are a rare luxury to say the least, but for a venue to be this busy so early is almost unheard of. 9 Bach play a short set of welsh folk classics with Lisa Jen showcasing a fine voice that reverberates around the church in Holyhead.

Before SFA front man Gruff Rhys hits the stage people are already walking around in 3-D glasses supplied with the Candylion Air brochure available in the venue. The set is a full on airplane cross with a Television set, as Rhys’ already extensive imagination takes another surreal turn. His arrival on stage with co singer Lisa Jen has then informing the crows of the airline safety procedures and emergency exists.

Rhys announces that for the first time they are playing with a full band with the collaborators from the album recording joining them on stage. They play a selection of tracks off new album ‘Candylion’ including the title song and ‘Court of King Arthur’. The set has Rhys sitting behind a desk with Lisa Jen, which sadly gives a disconnected feeling for me at the back of the small venue. Things truly come alive when Gruff is left on his own and he goes back to tracks of his first solo release ‘Yr Atal Genhadlaeth’, building the epic ‘Gwm Me Wn’ from just his voice to overlapping god knows how many instruments until the stunning crescendo.

After being rejoined by the band they went back to play songs from ‘Candylion’, ending up with the immense album closer ‘Skylon’, running at a massive fifteen minutes. On coming back to the stage for a short encore Gruff plays an acoustic version of ‘Pwdin Wy’ after explaining that he couldn’t do the full version as he had forgotten the correct cable for his synthesiser. He leaves to a chorus of applause and rightly so as Wales’ leading musician, he deserves all the plaudits that come his way. The concert did not match the fantastic final date of his previous solo tour but the uniquely gorgeous venue coupled with his disarming mix of humour and shyness was always going to be a winner.

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