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Cardiff University

The brute force of [B]3CR[/B]'s live assault has somehow escaped even their most virulent records...

Cardiff University

You almost pity them, you really do. This is a Welsh heavy metal crowd and The Donnas - four young ladies from California - have to break the ice. "Are you ready to RAWK?!" screeches singing Donna A, and the crowd looks malevolently bemused. Then The Donnas lift their metaphorical skirts, launching into the libidinal lurch of 'Hyperactive', and the boys - well, they edge a little bit closer.

By the time The Donnas have cut through the clean, sharp post-punk paroxysm of 'Skintight', the level of escalating respect is almost tangible. These girls do rock! They career through their clutch of Ramones-riddled riffs with prickly sneers. There's nothing intellectually challenging going on here (sample lyric: "Hey I'm gonna be your girl/And..." - guess what? - "you're gonna be my guy"), but there are enough rollicking thrills to flatten a legion of All Saints fans. Especially when their snappy pop smirk gives way to a dirty, incinerating AC/DC-modelled metal blast.

After such a cool, gritty surprise, Muse seem bizarrely out of place. They are wailey, protracted - Radiohead seriousness and U2 histrionics which, believe it or not, combine to make them sound like a hard-rock Ultravox. 'Agitated' is terrifically stealthy, brandishing wah-wah pedals like lethal weapons, bending under the weight of Matthew Bellamy's vocals. But Muse's moody, sleazy glower feels disappointingly anaemic when sandwiched between the stupid brilliance of The Donnas and the confrontational crunch of 3 Colours Red.

Lacerating the between-band murmur with an opening salvo of 'Age Of Madness', 3CR detonate with the scornful force of a band who have overcome overwhelming obstacles. They've been called boring, unimaginative. They've been dismissed and overlooked. Yet here they are, savvier than anyone could have predicted, with the confident bombast of a band ten times their size. What they've learned, perhaps, is that the trick is to be more punk than rawk, more Iggy than Ozzy, if they want to trigger some venue-wide catharsis. Which they do, with a vengeance.

Anyone here purely for the soothing FM-friendly glide of 'Beautiful Day' is in for a surprise. The brute force of 3CR's live assault has somehow escaped even their most virulent records. 'Paralyse', 'Paranoid People' and 'Song On The Radio' are unspeakably more furious when augmented by the glint of Chris McCormack's ankle-slung bass or the intensity of Pete Vuckovic's veiny-templed growl. If only this could be the sound of songs on the radio, longer than just tonight (thank you, Evening Session), we could rejoice. And rock. Just switch off our brains, and rock. Readily.

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