Cardiff Civic Centre One2One Big Weekend

Man the barricades, brothers and sisters, we're going over the top...

Cardiff – are YOU part of the Real Great Britain?” asks [a]ADF[/a]’s Deedar. Ironic sniggers all round. It is a brave council which sets up an event featuring some Britain’s most outwardly revolutionary bands – with a stage right next to the Welsh Office – Wales’ equivalent of Whitehall.

[a]ADF[/a] fire the incandescent flames of rebellion still not dampened in this area steeped in a history of class struggle. By the end of their stupendously brilliant set, the community of Cardiff (it’s a very family-based crowd) is filled with hope and sheer, unadulterated joy.

Deedar plays the role of an evangelist right from the start. During ‘Committed to Life’, , he mimes theatrically: [I]”I’m a reluctant struggler”[/I]. He is a master at revving up the crowd into a frenzy, as he shakes his head in despair, throwing his hands up then trying mass psychology to lift the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the explosive eastern-scaled riffs pour out from Chandrasonic and bassist Dr Das‘bowel-loosening dub bass. The three out front dive backwards and forwards, simultaneously pogoing on the spot. Incredibly, they never collide. Forget long, stumbling pauses, just a dapple of dub dabbling fills the gaps, before another storming intro heats up the mighty cauldron to boiling point.

Night draws in, but the temperature rises astronomically. The fired-up masses seem like ready to wrestle the city from its Taffia grip. [I]”We have taken the power/ And the land is ours”[/I] – The chant reaches fever pitch as packs of full-blooded folk leave, hungry and ready for some righteous rioting. But a merciful calm follows. It seems like hours since Rae & Christian played. The mediocre soul song they begin with was, frankly, dire. Like Katrina & the Waves or something. But eventually, the all-smiling flirtatious singer goes backstage and let the music talk. What follows is exquisite freestyle funky breaks, slipping into azure cool jazz from time to time, with plenty of scratch wizardry from the dual deck-masters. When the stage is cleared to allow the duo within Rae & Christian‘s big band, Finger Thing – just decks with pounding double bass – the minimalist staccato jumpin’ sounds ranks supreme among the strata of sounds used by the eclectic trip-hip-hoppers.

Chumbawamba, once upon a time fairly exciting anarchists, seem to have run out of steam. Alice Nutter still comes on with the bottle of booze and nun’s habit, and Danbert Nobacon flounces about in a loud orange suit. Inexplicably, three of the band appear with exclamation mark T-shirts. And the costume changes are really the most interesting aspects to a dreary performance. They moan about playing ‘Tubthumping’, and have to excuse themselves for resurrecting two older tracks – ‘Homophobia’ (“because New Labour said they’d scrap Clause 28 but they haven’t) and ‘Enough Is Enough’ (“because of what’s happening in Austria“).

As if to show how much attention everyone’s paying to the sickly-sweet folk-pop lyrics, a massive Welsh Dragon flag is carried triumphantly carried to the front of the stage at they sing rather drearily, like a blunt and useless battle-axe: [I]”Give the fascist man a gunshot”[/I]. The few new songs they have sound ill-contrived and clumsy.

Chumbawamba may have sunk into an ocean of apathetic mediocrity, but [a]ADF[/a] get more vital as Armageddon fast approaches. Man the barricades, brothers and sisters, we’re going over the top.