Pride Of Pontypridd
Tonight was a big night for Pontypridd.
After having its council funding cut in May 2014, the future looked bleak for the Muni Arts Centre. Despite being an integral arts and culture facility for Pontypridd and the surrounding communities, the Centre found its doors locked, perhaps for good.
Fortunately, The Muni Working Group swooped in to the rescue in the September of the same year, leasing the building and securing its future as the cultural hub of the town. After re-opening in September 2015, tonight marks the first big live music event since the venue's relaunch, bringing together three of Pontypridd's most well loved local acts to mark the occasion.
From the moment the doors opened, the excitement was palpable. The show was, unsurprisingly, sold out.
After what was effectively a ten-minute comedy slot from the infectiously enthusiastic compère and a short speech from the world's most down-to-Earth mayor (who sported a Climbing Trees t-shirt as she encouraged the packed hall to “buy beer”), the room was practically foaming at the mouth for the night to begin.
Five-piece Peasant's King (7/10) opened the night in suitably epic fashion, taking to the stage with the lights blacked out and an intro track playing over the PA system before bursting into their set.
With almost Alter Bridge-esque stadium rock songs featuring big refrains, guitar solos, soaring three part harmonies and incredibly energetic tambourine playing it seems that Peasant's King were built for rooms this size – they simply sound too big for anything smaller. Despite the somewhat repetitive nature of their set, the band left the stage to a roar from the eager audience.
Fresh from SXSW in Austin, Texas, The People The Poet (8/10) were next to grace the stage. Led by Leon Stanford's guttural howl, the band's vast live experience showed as they tore through a set comprised of songs from new EP 'Paradise Closed' and debut album 'The Narrator'. New single 'Club 27' felt the full benefit of a live performance, packing more of an emotional punch than it ever will on record. With a clan of devotees at the front of the stage,
The People The Poet's brand of unpretentious, passionate rock paired with Stanford's endearing stage banter won over a lot of new fans tonight. These boys are going places – big places.
Last up on tonight's bill was the self-styled 'Cymrucana' act, Climbing Trees (6/10). There was a massive amount of support for these guys in the venue, and the rush towards the stage as the lights dimmed to signal the start of their set was a big step up from the reception the other two bands had received this evening.
Opening with a post-rock near-instrumental is a bold choice, but the emotional swells, crescendos and wall of noise emanating from the stage was a powerful statement.
Unfortunately, the rest of Climbing Trees' set didn't quite live up to the high bar set by the opener. Too often, the jangly guitars and meek vocals of the band's laid-back indie-folk added up to the musical equivalent of a lukewarm bath.
Climbing Trees lacked the big emotional punch that the previous act provided, and as a result I found myself questioning whether the two should have swapped places on the bill; the audience had other ideas, however, as the massive support Climbing Trees received showed why they were deserving of a headline slot. When the volume and the energy in their set picked up, the intensity rose and the songs came to life, but this didn't happen nearly enough in an otherwise monotone performance.
Tonight showed exactly why Pontypridd needs the Muni Arts Centre. There is simply too much local talent (with huge local support) for there not to be a venue like this to showcase it. As the final cheers of the evening died down, only one sentiment remained – well deserved and well justified local pride.