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Dim Sŵn 2015
11th April 2015, Cardiff City Centre

After establishing itself as a permanent fixture on the festival scene, Sŵn took time out to re-imagine itself in 2014 and stopped the regular weekend festival for a one day event Dim Sŵn. Following the success of the day in October Sŵn decided that, in 2015, we would be treated to Dim Sŵn in April complemented by the weekend event in November. For music enthusiasts like ourselves it’s better than having Christmas twice a year. The organisers behind Sŵn are exactly what music promoters should be, people that love music and want to put on events that showcase all the great new music that is emerging.

With the spring sun shining through Four Bars upstairs in Dempseys there could have been no better start to Dim Sŵn than listening to the immaculate guitar playing of Toby Hay. This is a musician who allows the music to tell a story and let the listener drift away to a very tranquil place. His stories of life in his home town of Rhayader, Mid Wales and of using dreams as metaphors when composing these songs really allowed the listener to conjure up images to the beautiful tunes being played on both his twelve string and six string acoustic.

Next, a quick dash down Womanby Street to catch the last three songs from Alex Stacey, a young singer songwriter from Caerphilly who no doubt has a great future ahead of him. Three songs was more than enough to hear that Alex is one for the future, both his voice and lyrics are wiser than his years. This is certainly one of those Sŵn discoveries that I will be going to watch again very soon. Mixalydia followed with a set full of bold and ambitious stadium anthems played in a beautiful, melodic way way. Each song sounded like it should be playlisted by radio stations; this really is a band whose songs would not be out of place in an arena setting.

Delyth McLean was another name to remember from the day, this was a performance that combined soul, pop, jazz and rock and a number of other genres that I have probably forgotten about. With the backing of BBC Horizons it is going to be a very exciting twelve months for Delyth. A quick run up the stairs of Clwb to watch half of Zola Blood’s set; every song that I heard had been put together with a great deal of precision and the combination of electronics, guitars and vocals all had a very atmospheric sound to it and had the crowd fixated.

Back to the intimate surroundings of downstairs in Clwb, Broken Fires are a seven piece band who I have recently fallen in love with. This set was a highlight for me and a band you all need to hear, every song has a melody which is crying out for a big audience. The addition of the violin gives the band an extra dimension and the lead singer is everything you want from a frontman. There is nothing false about this band, whether they are playing for an audience of 50 or an audience of 50,000 you know you would get exactly the same show.

Following their performance at Dim Sŵn in October Jagaara were ones not to miss today. Jagaara have moved up in venue size from Four Bars to upstairs in Clwb and, at this rate, they will be headlining festivals before we know it. Once again we were treated to a performance of euphoric songs with vocal harmonies that grab hold and capture you. My only complaint was that the set was not long enough. I know it’s early days but I am looking forward to hearing more of the beautiful songs that Jagaara write.

Novella were a lucky dip for us today, having not heard them before and not even having circled them on my planner, I really was going into this one blind. That is one of the many great things about Sŵn, taking a chance and 9 times out of 10 you will not be disappointed. That was certainly the case with Novella, with the pulsating rhythms and energy that was filling downstairs in Clwb this is a band that I will want to hear more from.

Samuel Ford was next in Four Bars and another standout moment. I have so much admiration for musicians who want to push boundaries and that is what we had with Samuel Ford. This is not your average singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar, the way he used his acoustic for percussion and changing from acoustic to electric ensured this was a performance that everyone in that room would remember.

To end the night we were faced with a dilemma, do we rush over to Buffalo to see Pretty Vicious and see if they are worth all the hype which, from what I have already heard I am sure they are, or do we stick to what we know and love and watch Keys in The Moon Club? Well, I am pleased to say Keys won the dilemma. This is a band that I have loved for many years and it would take something very special to make me miss them. As always the band treated the crowd to a perfect Saturday night set, in fact this is a band that would make any night feel like a Saturday night. You can always rely on Keys for a performance full of good old fashioned rock ’n’ roll with no pretence. The performance was so tight and bursting with energy and passion for music that you just can’t fake. The band took time out to thank the crowd for choosing them over Pretty Vicious and I am sure I can speak on behalf of everyone in that room when I say it was an absolute pleasure.

Once again Sŵn have given us a day that will stay with us for a very long time; music, family and friends all coming together in the beautiful city of Cardiff. It’s time to start the countdown until Sŵn weekend returns again in November.

Steve Tay

Dim Sŵn 2014

Cardiff City Centre
18th October 2013

Sŵn Festival 2013

Cardiff City Centre
17th - 20th October 2013

Sŵn Festival 2012

Cardiff City Centre
18th - 21st October 2012

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