The Coral – Tramshed, Cardiff

Thursday 14th March, 2019

Well this is a very overdue entry. I am in a gig funk and not feeling it at all at the moment. Would indie kids The Coral pull me out of it?

I’ve been to Tramshed a couple of times,  as a photographer/fan of some of my favourite artists and those were both special nights. Cardiff is an easy hop by train from Bristol so when Tom said he’d get tickets for this I said ok.

I remember The Coral from that wave of indie guitar bands in the early noughties when they had some big, catchy hits and thought it would be interesting to see how they’ve fared. I’d also heard good things about them live.

The venue I like, nice room, decent sound, friendly staff, so that was all good.

There were 2 support acts, Marvin Powell and Cut Glass Kings. I preferred Marvin. He was all long hair, gentle voice and acoustic guitar. Cut Glass Kings were a drummer and guitarist who were very, very loud. Not to my taste.

The Coral shambled on, two of them in shades, with barely any patter, giving them a pissed off arrogant attitude that did not endear them to me at all. When people pay good money to come see you, is a hello and a smile really too much to ask for? And I wouldn’t want to be the road crew who the singer kept throwing daggers at every time they needed to fix a problem with his guitar cable.

As for the music. Well, I recognised about half the set and some of the songs are alright. Nothing hugely special though. Generic jangly indie guitar pop with some decent guitar work. Not my bag. It is music for lads who don’t want their world to be challenged or disrupted in any way. Ergo almost everything I dislike. This is music so male it may as well be a bottle of Old Spice from the 70’s. Outdated, nowhere near as good as it thinks it is and smells bad.

A few years ago I would have shrugged my shoulders at all this, looked at all the young and wished they were still young men in the audience and just gone this isn’t for me. Now. Now I see just how hard it is for women to make any headway in the music industry, how it is almost suffocatingly male at every level and I think no, we cannot stand for this anymore. Until I looked at the stats for the last 2 years of gig going I didn’t realise how few women I had seen play live. 70% of the acts I saw in 2017 and 2018 were male. And I was making an effort to see women! Scan the listings of any venue, any festival (other than Glastonbury) and you will see how few female musicians get booked. We have to stop accepting averagely talented white boys with guitars as being our cultural norm and cast our net more widely.

I’m also beyond accepting that bands like The Coral and their music provide emotional outlet and release for those same male fans. We need to teach boys and men that it is ok to have a range of feelings, and allow them to express them in their everyday lives. We have to find a better way that doesn’t lead to this sort of tribalistic music nerdery. I’m fucking fed up of it. I want to raise my boy to be the sort of man who isn’t selfish, reliant on alcohol as an emotional release valve. One who respects women enough to treat them as equal human beings.

The best thing about The Coral was Bill Ryder Jones and he left a decade ago to write much more interesting, diverse and emotionally rich music that demonstrates vulnerability, fragility and truth about modern manhood.

So no, The Coral couldn’t shift me out of my gig funk. I have tickets to 6 concerts as part of Bristol Jazz Festival next weekend where I am hopeful of finding something more uplifting and exciting.

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