Gruff Rhys

Venue: Ebbw Vale Institute
Date: 7th February 2015

In the last twelve months I have seen Gruff Rhys tell the American Interior story on five occasions; twice on his solo tour, two talks at Hay On Wye and Green Man festivals, and tonight at Ebbw Vale. Some may think that is bordering on obsessional, however I would say that even after seeing him five times I still don’t feel I’ve had my full fix of this genius concept album that Gruff Rhys has created. I would go and see him again tomorrow if the opportunity arose.

Tonight’s gig took place at the inspirational Ebbw Vale Institute. Gruff is obviously thinking of the music fans by taking his tour to venues that sometimes get overlooked and you only had to look around at the sellout crowd to see how appreciative they were that Gruff was stopping by their town.

This tour also provided something different to the previous shows as tonight Gruff was backed by the amazing Y Niwl whose contribution gave the songs from American Interior the extra passion and energy you would expect from them. Gruff was his usual charming and unique self, starting the show by impersonating an air hostess to ensure the crowd were aware of the nearest exits incase, for some bizarre reason, anyone who was not enjoying the show wanted to leave. Why anyone would want to leave this show early though is beyond me. The songs accompanied the story of John Evans and Gruff’s deadpan delivery ensured the crowd hung on his every word and admired the slides of the journey to retrace his steps. John Evans (as imagined by Pete Fowler) was, of course, present on stage and appeared to be enjoying the night as much as the band and the crowd.

In addition to the American Interior songs, we were treated to an encore of around 40 minutes which included songs from Hotel Shampoo and Candylion, all performed to perfection by musicians who clearly love these songs as much as the adoring public.

It is something we have said many times before but the word genius really is not enough when it comes to describing Gruff Rhys. This is a man who is beyond description, a man who we are lucky to be sharing this world with. Who knows what Gruff is going to do when the American Interior show finally comes to a close, but whatever happens it is sure to be an exciting journey to follow.

Steve Tay

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