May Ball 2014: Back with a bang

May-Ball-headerDate

I THINK it’s fair to say that May Ball went down pretty well this year. Although it was a bit smaller than last years’ (bye headphone disco, dodgems and ice skating rink!), what was there was a real step up. From the casino to the cocktail bar to the four stages, there was plenty for people to go between, despite the rain! Speaking to many of the people throughout the night, the general atmosphere was incredible, and everyone was enjoying themselves.

Cwtch

Opening the proceedings in the Cwtch was Callum Duell, who looked totally at home performing mostly acoustic covers of rock classics and newer pop tracks. He managed to make them his own, and his unique sound, through the subtle use of his loop pedal (without sounding gimmicky) was consistent throughout, showing off the depth of his talent.

Callum Duell performing live from Cwtch at May Ball 2014. Photo - Alex Tanton

Callum Duell performing live from Cwtch at May Ball 2014.
Photo – Alex Tanton

Sen Segur kicked off to a slower start, but once they got going, the psychedelic sounds they created were really quite something. The band was at their best when making a feedback fuelled noise akin to that of early Radiohead. Though some might not have appreciated their relaxed performance, it matched the spaced out, reverb-laden sounds in the set. They might not have been the most consistent songwriters of the night, but when they did get it right, they really did sound superb.

If the poppier side of pop-punk is your cup of tea, then My Favourite Runner Up would have been an absolute treat for you. They definitely gave the most energetic performance that the Union saw, and were determined to get the crowd on board and involved with the show. With covers of Busted, Bon Jovi and Blink 182 along with their own songs, it was impossible not to get sucked in and sing along.

There were a small group of dedicated fans in attendance for the arrival of local indie-rock outfit, Candelas. Frontman Osian led the show, and brimming with a quiet confidence, he was unmistakably fit for his role at centre stage. You couldn’t help but feel in safe hands throughout. The other Welsh act, Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog attracted a sizeable crowd with their distinct style of folk, and it was a pleasure to see them enjoying themselves so much whilst putting on a display of such musicianship.

However, it has to be said that as the clock struck midnight, the Union mysteriously emptied. A shame for the Cowbois, but the headline act in the Great Hall was about to start.

Check out Bay TV’s interview with Callum Duell below:

Union Main Room

In the Union Main Room the crowd were entertained with a number of DJ sets. Firstly, Propaganda, an Indie Club Night that has reached global acclaim and known to put on some of the biggest club nights in the UK went through a series of sets that were definitely crowd pleaser’s. We were also treated to the The Pigeon Detectices (DJ Set), All About She and a late appearance from P Money, that again performed some pretty incredible sets, with the main room being filled till the very end of the night.

P Money’s appearance was particularly notable for his character and stage presence, being able to get the crowd involved with the music. Him being the last on, was definitely the way to end the night, to the full. A significant success for this years May Ball, was the timing of everything across the stages. With few exceptions, it was possible to see nearly all the acts and switch between the two with ease. This made the night value for money because not only could you have a great night with your friends, you were able to see a number of high quality acts of different genres and styles.

Great Hall

As someone who doesn’t go to a lot of gigs (or enjoy loud music at all), the idea of enjoying May Ball baffled me.

May Ball DJs, Varski & R3wire and Eddy Scissorhands, performing throughout the night did a good job at keeping the crowd, and pulled off decent sets, but I can’t help but think it’s nothing short of what you’d get at Yokos. Beat A Maxx, on the other hand, the other DJ of the night, did something really special: his mix of videos and incredulous snippets (who’d have thought you could mix Bitter Sweet Symphony with Jeremy Kyle clips?) was so impressively bizarre, and I found myself enjoying it so much more than I thought I would.

His set ended to rapturous applause, the room filled up (no pun intended), and the Fillers came out. I’d seen them in sound check, and I couldn’t say I was too impressed, but I actually really enjoyed their set. I’m not a massive Killers fan myself, but they definitely picked some great songs, and played them extremely well. They got the entire audience singing along to Mr. Brightside, and for a minute I genuinely forgot they were only a tribute band!

But there can only be one main act. Rizzle kicks. I am a massive fan of theirs, and they really exceeded my expectations. It was fantastic to see the sheer amount of people crammed into the Great Hall – you could barely move once you got anywhere close to the front! Singing their most popular tracks, ‘Lost Generation’ and ‘Down with the Trumpets’ they had every single person dancing away, even in their seats upstairs. The energy Jordan and Harley have was amazing, with them jumping all over the stage and engaging with the audience (three encores!), which made the performance truly unforgettable. My personal highlight, though, was the trumpeter and saxophonist, who were pulling off some incredible dance moves all while playing… incredibly well!

Rizzle Kicks performing in the Arts Centre Main Hall at May Ball 2014. Photo - Tomos Nolan

Rizzle Kicks performing in the Arts Centre Main Hall at May Ball 2014.
Photo – Tomos Nolan

Overall, we were all very impressed with this years May Ball. The variety and quality of the acts that performed suited a range of different tastes. Albeit May Ball’s are all about dressing up and having a great night with your friends at the end of the year, it was great to have the high level of entertainment as well. Although… where were the dodgems?