There was a standing ovation following Gruff Rhys and the BBC National Ochestra of Wales’ performance at the Millenium Centre last night, and rightly so. Even though we’re only a few days into Cardiff’s ten-day Festival of Voice, the concert is already certain to be one of the highlights of the festival.
The show began with a short but stellar set from singer-songwriter and Cardiff local H. Hawkline. His haunting, poetic songs helped set a psychedelic tone for the evening and were greeted warmly by the crowd. It’s easy to see why he has been called ‘the Welsh Beck’. High praise, perhaps justified. Hawkline is a unique Welsh talent deserving of more recognition.
Then came Gruff Rhys, backed by the BBC National Ochestra of Wales, to perform his new album Babelsberg. It’s a great album that sounds even better live. The ochestra were exquisite, perfectly complimenting Rhys’ melodic, often off-kilter work. He has been one of the most interesting figures in Welsh music ever since the first Super Furry Animals album, constantly sidestepping our expectations. On this occasion, however, he may have exceeded all expectations, giving us the best night of the festival so far.