The Crimea, Jont

Bill Cummings 08/06/2006

Tucked away in the smallest of the three Cardiff University venues (the café no less), the Crimea finally emerge onto a heat-lit stage after some rather underwhelming support from singer songwriter Jont.

From pop to alternative rock, The Crimea are a bittersweet sherbert lemon drop of a band, at once sweet and sour with a surprising centre. What immediately strikes me tonight is frontman Davey McManus' sheer onstage intensity. With a new gap in his mouth from the loss of a front tooth, he beats his chest, wrestles with his guitar and microphone stand through the dark polemic stream of consciousness that is “Opposite Ends” ("Takes one black cloud to spoil the bright day/I was the black cloud she was the bright day”) that they can follow it up with a more bouncing poppier number “White Russian Galaxy” that peaks on the sing along chorus of “Who knows what goes on in her pretty little head?” It's typical of the Crimea who have an brilliant musical range from twinkling beauty, to dark intensity each sit side by side in the curiously beguiling soundscape of The Crimea.

One of the other high points comes with the wonderful “Baby Boom”, about the inability to get your leg over with your other half. Davey manages to make it sound positively poetic (“You can call me Fred Flintstone/ Tarzan King of the Jungle/ I guess I was a little prehistoric/ pumpkin, at your place this afternoon”) over a slice of delectable strumming pop, one of John Peel's favourites. If it was released today if there's any justice it would be a smash hit. Elsewhere “Gazillions of Miniature Violins” has a Mercury Rev-esque twinkling beauty the smart lyrical snapshots bringing a wry grin to my lips. Newer tracks are received well. It's clear that the Crimea aren't satisfied with their success thus far, and it's little wonder wonderous tunes as good as these deserve a greater audience, if they got half the attention and cover the likes of Keane and Embrace receive, they would be adored by the listening public.

Finishing their set with their single “hit” record so far, “Lottery Winners on Acid” gets the room moving, its carnival ride of glacial guitars, keys that twinkle like bright stars in the sky and a surprisingly sweet bright eyes-esque vocals that are juxtaposed by lyrics about obsessive love. (“We walk through the streets/Like Lottery Winners on Acid/Everything she says I was thinking anyway.”) It's a shame that the Crimea aren't playing to a full audience at a bigger venue, because tonight they are magical, enter their world and you won't be disappointed.