Euros Childs / Sweet Baboo - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Working on a tip off your Music Fix agent skipped his usual vodka and cheerios breakfast in order to make it to the venue in time for the support act, highly rated North Walian Stephen Black, who trades under the disarmingly cute Sweet Baboo moniker. Kitted out like an extra from World at War Black entertains with nothing more than a three quarter size acoustic guitar and a notebook of scrawled songs, confessing that he’s failed to keep to his planned setlist as he’s seriously flagging after a continual seven day drinking spree. Hangover notwithstanding he engages the crowd with a resolutely deadpan delivery which is counterbalanced by sparkling, melodious guitar accompaniment. The songs, which contain many references to heavy drinking, are enigmatic; one certainly incorporates some handy information about the smallest house in Britain, another is a love song which eschews the word love in favour of ‘lungs’ and his final song, he tells us, was thought by his concerned mum to be about suicide. No mum he told her it’s about surfing. If this is him on an off day then I can’t wait to catch him on form.
No wonder Mr Black is knackered though as he’s back onstage almost immediately playing bass for Euros Childs in a band which strips away all of the delicacy and subtlety of his former band Gorkys and transforms Childs from pastoral psychedelic folkie into a psychedelic krautrocker. There’s no cello or violin here, and precious little in the way of vocal harmony, the three piece take such a bare essentials approach that at one stage the drummer is playing drum and bass at the same time. Britain’s certainly got talent alright. I was a bit of a Gorkys obsessive back in the day, having followed them from support slots in The Legendary TJs through to their dénouement on a huge stage at Cyfartha Castle in front of one man and his dog. This, however, is my first time seeing the solo Childs and I’m immediately struck by how ‘unhinged’ he appears to be, but this could well be attributed to the aforementioned week long bender and last-nights aftershow party in London.
He begins the show behind a bank of keyboards but soon steps out to pick up the guitar, arranging his mic stand to face the wall before realising and admitting this is real stagecraft you are witnessing, just treat it like a rehearsal. It turns out that he’s also left his effects pedals back home in Riverside but he carries on regardless, opting to sing the screeching guitar solo rather than have us miss out on it. ‘Like this? Then Try This’ goes similarly haywire with the song collapsing under the mirth of the performers but the band manage to pick up where they left off and stagger to a finish, snatching victory from the jaws of catastrophy.
It is interesting to note that a Stalinist purge has taken place, completely eradicating any traces of Gorkys from the set, but even more telling that there are no calls from the audience for him to play any old hits. ‘Bread’ ('Not about the loveable scousers or the shit band') is a highlight, blending the keyboard pyrotechnics of ‘nutrocker’ with the seventies boogie of classic Quo, but the climax of the evening is the majestic ‘Baby Joy’ which grows and grows into a pulsating, deep house groove with undertones of Kraftwerk. It is undeniably an entertaining way to spend a Monday evening but I’m left with the feeling that, as one of Wales’ brightest talents, Euros Childs should be being taken more seriously as an artist. I guess that in order for that to happen he’ll have to start taking himself more seriously first.
(Words & Photography: Steven Burnett)