Review: Cerys By Candlelight @ RWCMD
Cerys Matthews have proven to be a bit of a Welsh enigma. Recovering from alcoholism and going on the dross that is I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!, her star seems to have faded over recent years. But any preconceptions I had about her were diminished when seeing her concert at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. To be fair, I was quite a fan of Catatonia back in the day. After all, I am a 90s kid...
As we entered the Dora Stoutzker Hall, we saw on stage a fine mix of Christmas lights, a guitar, a banjo and other curiosities. It felt very welcoming and warming to the concert. The audience seemed to be made up of die-hard fans of hers (one of which I actually know). Her choice of repertoire was an eclectic mix of folk, blues, pop and left you thinking her range fitted all of them very well.
I rarely go to non-classical concerts and the evening was a delight. I found myself having a real good time since the atmosphere was just right. Her humour is pretty spot on. The little jokes, anecdotes and stories had me giggling and belly laughing. I recall at one point an audience member heckling her (this happened a couple of times in the evening but was nothing but the kind sort). I missed what he had said but I think he asked her to sing a particular song, perhaps an old Catatonia song. Her response was, "I'm not going to be singing that". This left the audience in a quiet interlude to which she said, "You don't have to be so quite", which was greeted with more laughter.
The old Irish story about a hag was alluring in its stylings. She pointed out that that her love of the festive season came from storytelling, sitting around an open fire and being with friends and family, all attributes I find very appealing this time of year. It was the extras for the concert that also added flavour. Two audience members we're asked for to play a gong and the other a vibraslap. We sang along with her to Christmas carols. Even her sister had a go and came on stage. They recalled an old Welsh song they had to learn by heart as kids and sang together on stage for a brief while.
She remains everything that is great about a Welsh person: charming, beautiful, humorous, proud, bilingual, great singer/storyteller and proof that a person can overcome an addiction.
My only concern: When is she back in the capital?
IMAGE: Bryan Ledgard