Gareth D. Davies is at Clwb Ifor Bach on Womanby Street in Cardiff to review a performance by rock band Rainbow Maniac featuring frontman Connor Latcham.
Clwb Ifor Bach on the musically vibrant Womanby Street, the hub of self-proclaimed ‘City of Music’ Cardiff, can take credit for allowing opportunities for many bands to hone their craft and it was another great night at the venue to see critically acclaimed young Welsh band Rainbow Maniac.
Rainbow Maniac are a tight knit tribe on stage (the best bands are). They have been together since forming when sixth form students at Bridgend College. They are developing a loyal following and are managed by Ray Thomas from his own management and record label company Phwoar and Peace, (he is also the incumbent drummer of Cut Ribbons). There is a swagger to Rainbow Maniac, epitomised by charismatic frontman Connor Latcham who has a touch of the Liam Gallagher about him (albeit with a sense of humour transplant). And so there should be, in his stage dungarees, the playing on his Danelctro guitar is stylish, rhythmic and assured; vocals are delivered with feeling, charisma and, when needed and appropriate, power. He has an unpretentious coolness and magnetism that endears him to fans and the rock star looks to charm the skin off a snake.
They open the set with the excellent ‘Going Out On My Own’ featuring a strong psychedelic driving blues rock guitar line, reminiscent of The Super Furry’s ‘God Show Me Magic’. The vocals are initially delivered with a carefree, relaxed attitude while evoking an image to the lyrics “going out on my own, ‘cause I don’t want to be stoned/ ‘cause I don’t want to be sober, not tonight”, by Latcham, before cranking it up a level with building backing vocals from drummer Gavin Jenkins to the crescendo of a wailing “Going out on my owwwwn”!
Latcham is more than ably backed up with backing vocals and with a strong backbone from bass player Laura Brown and Jenkins on drums. Brown adds a Kim Deal-dynamic to the band, while Jenkins is another young Welsh drummer out of the top drawer (Davey Newington Houdini Dax/Keyes et al) and particularly amazes with his ability to offer superb backing vocals while delivering an often ferociously rhythmic assault on his drum kit. Louis Jugessur on guitar adds yet more value to the mix with some delectable guitar lines. In a live setting the four piece excel and are energised, both provoking and responding to the energy in the room where bigger stages beckon.
‘Snowball in Hell’ is dominated with a pumping bass and drum groove backed up with superb lead and backing vocals. ‘Crack Rock n’ Roll’ is introduced by Latcham as “this is the best song” prior to getting felled by some adoring female fans (obviously familiar with his tongue in cheek posturing), who yell back joyfully to finish his sentence “By any band!” The song is a quirky blend of seedy 60/70’s R&B, backed with a driving disco beat which proved irresistible to the flailing limbs of the dancing audience; Latcham singing along to the chorus whilst skilfully playing the same line on his guitar.
‘Suit of Armour’ is dedicated to Latcham’s girlfriend Angharad who is grooving with the other movers at the front of an energetic crowd. It is another furiously driven song with a backbeat akin to Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’, seasoned with a sprinkling of Dr. Feelgood; Latcham strutting and posturing, dungarees draped off one shoulder and the audience responding in kind. ‘All-inclusive Trip to the Sunset’ slows the set down and provides the audience with a sing-along opportunity to which they duly oblige.
The grand finale to the set is the outstanding ‘Kestrel Super’, which initially is started by Latcham holding an acapella sing-song with fans, before spiralling in intensity and culminating with the band stirring up a vortex of indulgence in an epic ‘rock out’ moment; Jenkins smashing his drum kit with incredible rhythmical precision whilst somehow contorting himself in a freakish show of coordination to add backing vocals; Latcham is shimmering with some intensified trademark posturing, gyrating and writhing, while Brown and Jugessur stir the pot, then bring the show to a pulsating close with the audience baying for more.
There is some serious talent in Wales right now. Rainbow Maniac are up there near the summit and more than capable of making the short leap toward stardom. With some bands charging an extortionate £40 or more (plus booking fee) to play live at medium and larger sized venues in the capital in the next few months, this is a band to catch live while you can still afford to.
To find out about upcoming events at Clwb Ifor Bach visit their website.
Gareth D. Davies writes music-based reviews and content for Wales Arts Review.