Kids In Glass Houses: Cardiff, Great Hall (21/10/23)

Kids In Glass Houses: Cardiff, Great Hall (21/10/23)

27th October 2023 0 By Gavin Griffiths

The Welsh music scene has undergone notable ups and downs over the last ten years or so; certain bands disbanding through burnout and creative differences, certain bands fizzling out and seemingly disappearing despite huge potential, and certain bands that just, well, have nonces for lead singers, but I digress. The thing is though, despite changes in trends not only musically, but in society as a whole; with fresh, new ideas that up-and-coming artists bring to the table…you can’t keep a good band down, and these last 12 months have proven it. FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND recently successfully completed a UK tour with nostalgia rife in the minds of longing fans. THE BLACKOUT reformed to a sweaty sold-out show in Merthyr Tydfil before taking on the Download Festival, and even veterans like SKINDRED are reaching new heights in chart success. This brings us to KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES.

Nine years ago, the Cardiff-based indie/pop-rock outfit bid farewell to the world, following a short, sharp four-album career, rounding off with a final hurrah, via a sold-out hometown show in the capital’s Great Hall. To say it was equal parts triumphant and tearjerking would be an understatement, as the packed crowd sang until their throats gave out and cried enough to flood the Taff twice over. It was the end of an era. Or so we thought. Fast forward to 2023, and after reforming for Slam Dunk Festival, Kids In Glass Houses were back, and announced a tour to celebrate fifteen years of their début album “Smart Casual”. This reviewer returned to the Great Hall almost exactly nine years later, feeling a little Deja-vu, as we welcome the Welsh rockers back with open arms. Here’s what went down…

Photo Courtesy Of Scott Jones

I must take a moment to thank one Mr Paul Hirschfield from the Sappenin’ Podcast group for hooking me up with a last-minute ticket, otherwise, this review wouldn’t be… Sappenin’ I guess you could say! It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least, and it was good to catch up. After pre-drinks at one of the local establishments with famously horrendous plates, everyone heads off to doors to catch our solitary support act for the night; THE NIGHTMARES [8]. The Newport outfit, (Consisting of Adam Parslow on vocals/guitar, Eleanor Coburn on keys, James Matlock on drums, and Benjamin T. Mainwaring on bass) brings all of the mood with them, as they bathe the early crowd in a sea of crimson light and peddle their weary wares. Promoting their debut album “Seance”, they do far more than warm up tonight’s crowd, as they open with “It Follows”.  

The pained synth-rich intro leads into a flurry of percussion and droning guitar notes that easily lean into the likes of ALKALINE TRIO and MATCHBOOK ROMANCE, for a truly upbeat yet equally disturbing track that tackles mental health and depression. The unseen entity that follows you around, leaving you feeling a sense of unease, on edge, looming over you like life’s antagonist. Yet musically it’s an absolute banger. This is wonderful. “Pink And Grey” takes a far mellower, indie-rock approach and there’s more of a gentle, delicate nature, singing of looking for answers; using clairvoyants, Ouija boards…wanting answers from the afterlife. It’s deep in self-reflection, self-awareness, and humble uncertainty, reeking of vulnerability and a need for assurance, and it’s a darkly sweet little number.  

My personal highlight here would be “Heartless”, as they bring the mood down in the best of ways, with a slower, somber piece of almost haunting Gothicism. There’s a beautiful feeling of heartache and despair here and a little play on words. “I’m not heartless, I’m just using my heart less”; the melding of melody and melancholia works perfectly here and while it’s not a track that will get a crowd bouncing, it’s powerful in its own right and in that deep red stage lighting, it’s incredibly emotive. This is certainly a band to keep an eye on, and if you’re seeing CREEPER on their upcoming tour, I’d highly recommend you get there early to check out The Nightmares. A superb start this. 

Photography Courtesy Of Scott Jones

After a quick trip to the smoking area and a top-up of the old Yack & Coke (The Y is intentional; it’s an in-joke), we’re ready for the return of tonight’s headliners, KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES [10] as they play their anniversary album in its entirety. We open up with “Fisticuffs” and the immediate swell of the crowd is incredible. The up-tempo guitar-heavy anthem has lost none of its appeal in fifteen years, and it’s a call to arms for those standing strong in the face of tribulation. It’s a song of fighting for what you love, who you love, why you love, and its resolutions. We are one track in and the crowd is on fire…it’s good to have the boys back.  

Tracks like “Give Me What I Want” rouse huge sing-along chorus sections with the band and crowd feeding off each other in equal measure. The band wants this to go down well, and the crowd wants the band with every ounce of their collective being. It’s symbiotic in its delivery and everyone here is in unison and the atmosphere is incredible. “Saturday” brings the melodious harmonies that frontman Aled carries with ease, and if it has been a bitch of a week you can let it all out here vicariously through these self-depreciative lyrics; letting your hair down and forgetting everything, despite the hurt. “Good Boys Gone Rad” brings things back to life with some quirky guitar work and another soaring chorus, and once again the hungry crowd is all over this like drunks in Chippy Lane on a match day. 

 As the night draws to a close, with confetti canons signaling the sets approaching climax, in amongst the screams of happy fans, we’re left to reflect on life. Nine years is a long time, but the reception Kids In Glass Houses got tonight made it feel like minutes. The songs from that debut sound as fresh as ever, and they once again prove that they not only were but continue to be one of the most important bands at the head of the South Wales music scene. Despite being a little older now, there’s no sign of rust here and there’s plenty of energy left in these kids, and as they tease their first new album since 2013’s “Peace”, this collective glass house of fans welcomed them home with open arms. In the meantime, it’s off to Metro’s to drink and celebrate…Iechyd da boys, until next time! 

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