Review: How The Light Gets In festival, Hay on Wye

Wednesday 9 June 2010, 13:26

Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn

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Cate Le Bon, Islet, and Man Without Country: Friday 4 June

How The Light Gets In is a new philosophy and music festival in Hay on Wye scheduled during the world famous Hay Festival but very much its own event. I'd been invited to curate an evening called The Friday Night Shindig and to call up some of Wales' finest to come join me on the night.

How The Light Gets In festival

It's a balmy, sunny Friday afternoon as I'm sat amongst the yurts and grass mats, a relaxed courtyard of philosophy events, hearing random readings and generally enjoying the atmosphere. Hay itself is always a delight and a pleasure, and this lawn area outside the Globe is a mini festival delight.

Cate Le Bon is on first, despite being the headliner, the scheduling more to do with the book/talk style ticketing than a music event.

Cate Le Bon

Cate is the perfect opener, relaxed, funny, mesmerising, and her beautiful voice just echoing around the Globe Theatre's chamber of art and light. Behind her graphics of travelling scenes, and strange stoic human statues, add to this haunting vibe.

Next we descend the narrow stairs at the back of the room to hear Islet, in the cellar. The band hail from the next village along, so there's a good home crowd for their performance. "We're down in the basement like trapped bears!" shouts Mark, one of Islets' many vocalists as he starts pogoing into the crowd, and gaining quite a momentum with a small crowd of enthusiastic fans at the front.

Islet are the unexpected, and always play to this, smoothly running around the instruments in each song, and defying all categorisation, structure or convention. Tonight they are superb, and the cellar is such a perfect location for their brand of avant garde.


Back up to the bright and church vibe of the Globe's main room, and newcomers Man Without Country, Wales' most recent success story, suddenly find themselves headlining, which is in itself a lot of pressure while their truck load of gear, and complex set up could cause a few nervous breakdowns before they've even started.

Man Without Country

But right on cue, they are winning over the crowd to their 'soon to be' anthems, and get us all in the mood for the disco to follow - oh, yes, right, that's my job.. back down the basement to what is now a fairly unpleasant sweat pit to get the party going, and going and going, until tired and sopping, dripping home, we wander through a sleepy Hay to find our beds for the night.

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