30 Apr 2014

Fruits de Mer "Crabstock 2014" Gig Review

Review and photo by Sean Gibbins and also posted on his blog here.

Cellar Bar, Cardigan, April 26

Having missed the previous Fruits De Mer UK all-dayer in London (Aug 10th 2013), I was determined to get along to Cardigan for this second one, despite the relatively long haul up from the South Coast.

So my ticket bought and accommodation booked well in advance, I drove to North Dorset and then traveled on to Wales with fellow Bevis Frond Yahoo! mailing list buddy Michael Buckley, who expertly negotiated the torturous and seemingly random road selected for us by the satnav (thankfully bypassed for better ones on the return journey) to get us to Crabstock.

Having conquered the maze of one-way streets and located some free parking and our hotel, we finally made our way to the venue in time for us to grab our much hyped goodie bags and see Jack Ellister doing his sound check. Fortunately the Cellar Bar was located reasonably close to our hotel, so goodies stashed we made our way back down the cellar steps a short while later, and suitably lubricated with Mantle Brewery’s lovely Crabstock Limited Edition Cwrw Teifi ale we settled in for Jack’s performance and were charmed by his arresting voice and the gentle anecdotes that brought his relatively simple ballads to life.

Later on I grabbed 5 minutes of Jack’s time between sets to chat about the pleasures of touring and the benefits of being associated with the Fruits De Mer label. He was incredibly enthusiastic about both and a fine fellow to boot, obviously enjoying the other artists’ performances as much as we all had enjoyed his earlier.

Taking a break for a bite to eat we discovered that the schedule was fairly tight when Crystal Jacqueline were seen to take to the stage on the TV monitor in the cafe upstairs. Having finished our food and then chatted to the wonderful FdM main man Keith Jones we dashed back down the steps to take our place on the stone floor and listen to the last few numbers, which included powerful versions of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit and Somebody To Love.

Hi-Fiction Science‘s James McKeown was next onstage for the final acoustic set of the night, which mixed classic rare psych tunes for those in the know with his own material, gathering in pace and intensity and setting up the two electric sets perfectly.

Earthling Society started off slowly and almost cautiously, but once underway with their blistering set compelled me to generally get my freak on, hoot and holler. I’ve seen them twice now and both times I have been surprised by the long, intense, heavy psych numbers that differ so radically from their generally more concise FdM contributions, so hopefully I’ll be better prepared next time at this year’s Kozfest!

Sendelica promptly picked up the enthusiastic crowd from the now highly elevated state that Earthling Society had left them in, swiftly taking them higher with their rich, visceral, earthy sound, confirming that good psychedelic music needs no assistance from psychotropic substances to transport the listener to an altered state. The combination of crystal clear sound channeling guitar, percussion, woodwind and keyboards/theremin was nothing short of sublime, as was confirmed when my feet began to leave the ground repeatedly and my arms took on a life of their own, a rare occurrence from this somewhat shy and reluctant dancer.

Other aspects of the event worthy of note were the locally brewed beer, so popular that emergency supplies were carted in part way through the evening, the many fine people – musicians and fans alike – I chatted with throughout the evening, plus the abundant vinyl and CDs available for purchase. For me the only downside was the relatively remote location, but even that faded to insignificance once the music started, making Crabstock a truly great night in every way.

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