The Echo And The Always
Broken Fires, Rainbow Maniac

Venue: Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Date: 29th May 2015

Arriving soon after the doors opened at one of our favourite gig venues downstairs in Clwb Ifor Bach, the room was already over half full showing the excitement surrounding the bands on tonight’s line up.

First to the stage was Rainbow Maniac, a band who until tonight I had not heard of and who, after their opening set, are a band that I will certainly be wanting to hear more of; if you have not had your ears blown open by this band then I urge you to check them out now. It’s always hard being the opening act but Rainbow Maniac did more than enough to win the crowd over, by the time they were halfway through their second song I found myself walking away from the bar and being dragged into the middle of the room by their enthralling and captivating rock n roll sound. This four piece worked their way through their set with passion and meaning, with a nod to the greats as they worked in Happiness is a Warm Gun and some classic Jagger wooh woohs.

Next to the stage was a band who I have fallen head over heels in love with over the last two months, Broken Fires. I am running out of adjectives to describe how great this band are and, after tonight’s performance, I am once again left in no doubt that Broken Fires are on the road to the big arenas, and you really need to be there with them.

Tonight’s set opened with ‘Brick. Mortar. Stone’ which sums up everything I love about this band. The song starts with a slow pace and reflective lyrics before exploding into an incredibly beautiful noise that you never want to end, hearing this live is just as good as the recorded version. The band were joined tonight by Ray Thomas, the drummer from Cut Ribbons. Knowing that, do you need me to tell you that he did more than a good job of standing in for Broken Fires usual drummer who could not make it tonight? As far as I could hear everything about tonight’s set was perfect, ‘Elephants’, ‘Flesh & Blood’, ‘Out of the Woods’ and ‘Vessels’ all sounded epic. Looking around the crowd there was lots of appreciation from the audience, many of whom were singing along as loudly as they could (or maybe that was just me).

Since the release of their debt album Silhouettes the band have gained daytime airplay, been interviewed by Bethan Elfyn and are winning over new fans on a daily basis. They have done all this on a very limited budget, giving away their music for free and believing in the songs they write; if they continue to do exactly what they are doing they will gain the success these songs deserve.

Headlining tonight was The Echo And The Always, a band featured on AMP in the past but one who I had not seen live before. Tonight was the band’s last gig before going off to record their long-awaited debut album so they were sure to go out with one hell of a party, and judging by the size of the crowd in Clwb tonight everyone was going to make sure they had a send-off to remember. This was a set of uplifting pop songs that break down genres, there was so much going on that it is impossible to categorise The Echo And The Always. They are clearly five talented musicians sharing the stage, sharing their wide ranging influences and in so doing create music that compels and amazes at the same time. Some of the highlights included ‘Capable Of’ which I can best describe as a dark, sinister pop song that gets inside your soul, ‘Go Easy’ with its uplifting chorus that would not be out of place on daytime radio and ‘Temper Tantrum’, a beautiful song that will leave you feeling all warm inside.

The Echo And The Always are a band that clearly love what they do, and all belong together on that stage. They also had a very grounded approach to their performance which came across with a nod towards their parents being in the audience tonight and sharing banter on stage as John took his time to tune his guitar.

As the night came to an end the crowd all seemed pleased with what they had seen and heard as the chants of “one more song” echoed around the venue and many flocked to the merchandise stand to pick up CDs and T-shirts which is exactly what you should do after a gig, make sure you support your local bands.

Steve Tay

Broken Fires

Released: 18th May 2015
The Echo and the Always

"You will find yourself wondering why this band are not on a major label"
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