Wednesday, 17 February 2010

579 NADA SURF, Arnold, Cardiff Barfly, Thursday 31 October 2002

I'm beginning to think that recent gig escapades have been nothing if not convoluted. This time, after originally intending to drive and picking up workmate Shaun up, we realised our car's back light had gone! So, after buying the wrong size of bulb from Tesco's garage, we ultimately had to press-gang Ady, our 4th gig-goer, into driving to this one! D'oh!

Anyway, we hit the venue at 8.30, parking in the midnight-closing multi-storey by the Hilton around the corner. Got stamped on the door as we'd reserved tix, and got in just as Travis, sorry, Arnold, were kicking off their set, which veered between inauspicious yet nice wallpaper music, and slight pseudo baggy dance stylings. Very bland indeed; surprised they're not huge!

The venue was well packed, and I accosted Surf drummer Ira - visible throughout the venue thanks to his large cowboy hat - to find out their onstage time. At the appointed hour - just before 9.30 - I wandered down to a vantage point stage right, a couple of rows back. I was up for a mosh, me!

The Surf ambled nonchalantly onstage just after 9.30, a little taken aback, it seemed, by this large crowd and rapturous reception. "Blizzard Of 77" and a fantastic sounding "The Way You Wear Your Head" set the tone early doors, as myself and a few other lads gamely started a small mosh to give the Surf the sweat and energy they deserved. The set, to coin a phrase, was winningly ragged, in contrast with the well-oiled smoothness of their 2 recent shows. This particular set, however, benefited from the raw approach, as it was a more balanced pick across all 3 of their albums; the jangle rock of "High/Low", the rockier, more power-chord driven "The Proximity Effect" and the more polished "Let Go". Matt, who'd acknowledged me during the first number (always nice), was again an engaging, self-effacing presence, and the set superbly melded beauty ("80 Windows" and the reverential version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" during "Stalemate") and power ("Treading Water", a brilliant set finale, and the unplanned, messy yet awesome "The Plan"). Another shining, shimmering set from da Surf!

Afterwards, I ran into old friend Craig, who'd watched the set with Rachel and loved it. We caught up - it's been far too long - and also hung out with the guys and an again-personable Matt Caws. I had to tear myself away to get to the car before the car-park "witching hour", otherwise I could - and probably would - have stayed all night!

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