Spontaneous plans always have the most exciting feel to them, you don’t have the anticipation of waiting for it, yet all those feelings come out as you’re walking in the fresh air to the venue.
This is how I felt as I was on my way to watch Little Comets at the Gate Arts centre in Roath, Cardiff. The venue itself I had never actually heard of but after walking up the winding stairs and coming out at the top of the stage you could tell it was going to be an intimate and exciting gig. The Grade 2 listed building has large cold walls with a beautiful wooden finish ceiling which was fascinatingly high, the humble stage was surrounded by rows of pews which were overflowing with a sea of exited teenagers when we arrived.
After grabbing a few drinks at the bar we made our way to the front of the stage as the support act The Crookes set up. Coming out looking like a walking advert for River Island (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) they belted out their tracks like a classic kitchen sink style inspired indie band. Now I wouldn’t call myself a music expert nor would I want my opinion to be taken as fact but I really enjoyed the set especially ‘Sofie’ and ‘Bloodhsot’. You really could see the enthusiasm in lead singer (definitely Morrissey inspired) George Waite’s composure and attitude. I can safely say that I’ve never seen a band with such a wide and eclectic range of influences, You can see that 50’s rock and roll has had some influences on the way they look and swagger across the stage but the lyrics and guitar riffs are much more modern and from what I’ve read across the internet this looks like it could be the next big thing. If I were you, I’d be watching out for The Crookes, they could be breaking into the charts soon.
The anticipation is escalating and the Jack Daniel’s is now flowing as the Little Comets set up their washing line of instruments and tune their incredibly intricately designed guitars. The lights come down and the Little Comets logo lights up on the back wall as they stroll on the stage without any sense of arrogance that you get from some indie bands, but you can see they are up for anything and are oozing confidence as they burt right into the lively and boppy ‘Tricolour’ which then fades into the cool intro riff of ‘Tense/Empty”. The crowd are already joining in singing along to the chorus which almost drowns out the soft voice of lead singer Rob Coles as he finishes off the song and introduces the band. As you would get at any gig you get some rowdy people shouting (not normally about Paolo Di Canio, but each to their own I guess) Rob deals with it in a perfect Geordie fashion by replying ‘mint’ and getting on with the set by belting out one of the fan favourites ‘One Night in October”. When they started playing “Little Opus” everyone was already hyped up and dancing yet I couldn’t help but notice the large wooden ceiling again, now I’m not sure if this was intentional but the lights we’re positioned in such a way that all three band members shadows were about 15 feet long all in a line at the back of this glowing wooden ceiling, it’s most likely mere coincidence but it just added to the awe and the atmosphere of the two of the most popular and powerful songs of the evening.
No other gig i’ve been to can change the emotion and atmosphere as quickly as the Little Comets did during this set, you can go from moments of bliss and elation during the songs ‘October’ and ‘Opus’ but then you can be quickly brought back to reality with the songs ‘Violence out tonight’ and ‘Waiting for the Shadows in the dead of night’ which really show the depth of character within the song writing skills of this remarkable band. It really is like watching a comet fly through the night sky, you have that feeling of wonderment and then the realisation of everything around you and how small everything is, it really is a strange sensation.
The mood is brought back up with Joanna, W.O.E, Isles and The Western Boy and then the opening riff of Jennifer echoes throughout the hall and crowd go wild. I could feel the floors shaking and the ocean of people moving back and forth like waves pushing me made it feel like I was in a much bigger venue. Rob and Mickey, the brothers of the group looked like they were having the time of their lives dancing around the stage as if they were kids again just singing and playing with each other. This is why I love being so close at these intimate gigs, you can really see the emotion in the bands faces, it was invigorating to share this experience with them .
As the set list nears the end, Rob tells us how he feels an encore should be a spontaneous thing and that bands shouldn’t have it already in their set-lists. He added that a set list should flow all the way through and I couldn’t agree more with him, the fact that crowds expect encores now aren’t a reflection on the times where crowds got really excited about bands coming back out to play older and upbeat songs, because today some bands even save their best songs for the encore. The two last tracks really polished off the set perfectly, “Dancing Song” got the biggest reaction of the night, it just set the crowd off again! It actually reminded me of ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ by the Wombats, it has that bouncy, feel good factor about it which just makes everyone want to look down, put their hands up and just dance like nobody is watching. To finish it all off they knocked it out of the park with ‘In Blue Music we Trust’ which just capped off a perfect set, in a perfect location, for the perfect kitchen sink indie band.
After the gig I was lucky enough to meet and have a conversation with Rob and Matt and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen bands after a gig to have that much appreciation for their fans to come and meet them as soon as they finish playing, fair play to them. I was also able to get the original set lists from both The Crookes and Little Comets which Rob and Matt were more than happy to sign. We had a small conversation about where we all lived and he said that he actually was moving close to my friend’s house in Sutton Coldfield and that Barnstaple was a “lovely part of the world” as they have performed there a number of times. I can honestly say that was one of my favourite gigs to go to in a long time, the intimacy crossed with the electric feel of the crowd made it a perfect combination. Thanks for a lovely evening, was a pleasure to watch and meet you all.