Live review: Gwenno – London


Islington Assembly Hall, 18th October 2018

Words: Nicholas Jacques

Thursday night saw welsh indie-pop songstress Gwenno bring her live show and original, not to mention brilliant 2nd album Le Kov’ to London. A personal highlight for me this year!

The anticipation was high as I wanted to see how she would bring the sparse synth soundscapes and Cornish language to life with her set. I am very pleased to say that Gwenno excelled at this and hit the sweet spot effortlessly.

However, gracing the stage at the lovely and intimate venue first were the little known 3 piece Adwaith (also welsh!) although there were some excited people in the crowd who were going crazy for them. It was easy to see why with their band’s twee post-folk/post-punk stylings. They played with a lot of maturity and judging from the applause the crowd gave them, this will not be the last time we will see this outfit in action with a debut album on the way.

The main ticket here though was for the enigmatic and intriguing Gwenno. Her latest album has been picking up the plaudits and with its reception, she is cementing herself as the front runner of the welsh music scene. All of her songs are sung in the obsolete language of Cornish and welsh which made her performance all the more enticing. She and her band, including a visually impressive psychedelic backdrop, produced a beguiling presence on stage which made it impossible to take your eyes of the action. The sublime notes of Hi A Skoellyas Liv a Dhagrow (She shed a flood of tears)’ produced a sonorous panoramic feel that engrossed the crowd and the BBC6 music favourite ‘Tir Ha Mor (Land and sea)’ rung out with its mystical undertones. These songs have much depth to them. Despite being shaped with glacial synths and bass driven loops, they sound as if were created in an ancient time and have got lost somewhere in history’s timeline. Gwenno is resurrecting and piecing together fragments of forgotten lives and communities from a forgotten era and the results she’s producing are quite remarkable.  This is both original and unpretentious. She has the passion to pull this off and dashes any speculation of thoughts otherwise.

Both Gwenno and her band gave such an impassioned display and managed to bring both the Cornish and welsh dialects to life in galvanising fashion. Daromres Y’n Howl (Traffic in The Sun)’ and ‘Tynn-Amontya (Computer)’ offered us more synth-oozing moments in the gig that were both expansive and lush. Her set bubbled with captivating shoe-gazey tones that delighted us all! To prevent us from being blinded by the shimmering kaleidoscopic sounds, she took a breather to engage the crowd about her time when she use to live in the local area and how the gig felt like a bit of homecoming – this brought many cheers from the crowd and added to the intimacy of the gig.

Gweeno rounded things in awesome fashion with her latest single and it was highlight of the show for me. The song Eus Keus (Is There Cheese?)’ has quickly earned a special place with me and many alike as it’s about that wonderful smelly edible stuff, CHEESE!

Before she and her fab band launched their jaws into the penultimate track of the night, Gwenno took the time to describe the song and its meaning in some detail. She briefly explained the historical importance of cheese in Cornish communities and this injected a jovial atmosphere into the proceedings.

It was such a pleasing end to the evening and she was cheered so much that she came back on to the stage for a 1 song encore, which brought much delight to us all!

There is much to admire about Gwenno. Her efforts to bring archaic themes to the forefront of today’s society at a time where our country faces an unprecedented amount of political uncertainty is crucial.

Artists such as Gwenno are leading the way to remind us all how we have evolved with time and how important the memories of yesterday year are to us. She is giving the country’s consciousness a nudge to realise this and on the reflection of this gig, she is doing a pretty fine job.


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