9bach – The Met, Bury
Date: 24th October 2019
Ten years since its release, the North Walian troupe revisit their first album and a bit more on their latest tour. We caught them at Bury Met.
“Encores are disgusting!” Never a truer word spoken and thumbs up for a band that refuses to kowtow to the pretense of the false ending before the walk-off and loiter in the wings and hope that the audience applauds for long enough before they return for the inevitable last song. Incidentally, the only other band I know that has the same philosophy is Jump, also fronted by Bangor old boy (and pal) John Dexter Jones. Such is the uncompromising Welsh spirit.
Stemming from the core of Martin Hoyland (who seems content to remain in the shadowy backline) and Lisa Jên (who conducts proceedings front and centre) the six-piece tonight includes Andy Gangadeen on drums and percussion (last seen by our eyes as part of Marillion singer Steve Hogarth’s band). It’s also a celebration of the band’s first album, recently re-issued on Real World Records having been out of print for some time.
The first half ticks over with the focus on those songs that follow a varied path from the ethereal and the haunting to the dark and dramatic. Indeed “where there’s no drama there’s no fun” is a justifiable comment. The Welsh language may be a mystery to many of us sat in The Met but all adds to the enigmatic stories that 9bach weave and you can appreciate where they fit the Real World/world music profile. The harp and tuned percussion add a delicacy and combined with the occasional rumble of thunder and building crescendos, they skirt around psychedelic folk and deeper dub grooves and sequences.
The songs, cast from Welsh lore and blended with Martin Hoyland’s rock background, typify a spirit of experimentation. Not folk as we know it in the traditional sense but in the way the focus is strongly focussed on storytelling.
And talking of progression – “the prog!” – the second half takes us on a journey through both the visuals projected onto the backdrop and the music from the remainder of the 9bacj canon. Check how far they’ve come although we’re still working a similar vein. Talk of Anian is about making connections and we’re transported into hypnotic grooves with busy rhythms as we travel over a barren and mountainous Welsh landscape, seemingly flying away from any sort of folk connection. Plentyn comes born from collaborations with the aboriginal culture and far rocks after the combination of three voices enchants and seems worlds away as three of the band are under the headphones and a tribal Eastern vibe takes over.
It’s a wonderfully crafted performance and while it may be four years since their Tincian album was voted Album Of The Year in the 2015 Folk Awards, tit’s warming to see 9bach at the cutting edge.
Photography by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.