Archives for May 2010

Eurovision's Cypriot entry appeals for Welsh support

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:24 UK time, Friday, 28 May 2010

It's good luck to Jon Lilygreen And The Islanders this weekend as the Newport singer and his band of Welsh and international musos represent Cyprus in the Eurovision song contest.

Watch Life Looks Better In Spring by the band:

The band are asking Welsh as well as Cypriot people to support them as they sing the track, written by Cypriots Nasos Lambrianides and Melis Konstantinou.

Lilygreen, 22, was brought in when the duo found Welsh producer Jon Gregory on the web in their search for a vehicle for the song. He suggested they take a look at Gregory's demos and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Breakfast Club star Molly Ringwald can't leave The School behind

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:07 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

One of Hollywood's most recognisable faces of the 1980s, Molly Ringwald, has declared a love of Cardiff indie types The School.

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Famous for her appearances in films such as The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink, Ringwald has compiled a 15 track playist for CelebrityTunes.com.

Included on Ringwald's playlist is All I Wanna Do by The School, of which she says, "This song just makes me feel happy. It's very young. You just want to hold hands with someone while you listen to it."

US singer's trip to Marz via south Wales

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:29 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

Cult American indie singer songwriter John Grant has had his bizarre new video filmed in various south Wales locations.

I Want To Go To Marz has had a video clip created which takes a surreal journey through Taff's Well, Barry and Pontypridd.

It was created by Cardiff film-makers Casey Raymond and Ewan Jones Morris who told the Western Mail, "We did a video for Cate Le Bon, who's signed to Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals' record label."

"That was a crazy one too, but John said he loved it and got in touch... John's whole album, Queen Of Denmark, is a very melancholy affair and we wanted to find the kind of places that reflected that."

You can see the video clip on the Western Mail's website.

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Cardiff's Grassroots youth project relaunches

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:16 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

This Tuesday saw the relaunch of the long-established and important Grassroots youth project, which has seen tens of thousands of young people access its music and media opportunities.

Grassroots' Charles Street HQ in Cardiff has been refurbished and their music studio (in which Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals and Catatonia recorded their first demos) has moved to a new location on the first floor.

According to WalesOnline the music studio "will be bigger and better with a custom designed recording studio, new equipment, more industry-standard software and a newly added vocal/drum booth. The department will offer marketing skills to young musicians to promote their work through local radio, press, internet, etc. It will also run the acclaimed jam sessions and music technology courses, as well as regular gigs in the Grassroots coffee bar."

A new performance stage is also in place.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 23 May 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 16:53 UK time, Wednesday, 26 May 2010

This week's show was shaped, almost entirely, by Radio 1's Big Weekend in Bangor last weekend and Y Wythnos Fach - the fringe festival that preceded it. Given that every night last week involved long drives, lots of bustle, late nights and great music, it's taken me longer than usual to elastoplast this paragraph together... sorry about that.

The exclusive live music dripping from every pore of the show should make the wait worthwhile. As well as a whole host of comedic 'Adam-can't-work-the-studio-in-Bangor' moments (it does have a mind boggling amount of buttons and faders compared to our desk in Wrexham).

bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00sj2f0/Adam_Walton_23_05_2010/

So, here's an inventory of the live music that you'll hear if you visit BBC iPlayer: I Am Austin, Y Promatics, the Joy Formidable, Yr Ods, We Are Animal, Kids In Glass Houses, Marina and the Diamonds, Pete Lawrie and No Room For Heroes.

The latter recording is a long, intensely tuneful chunk of the band's hometown set at the Central Station, Wrexham, Y Wythnos Fach gig.

Elsewhere in the show, some of the bands get interviewed and I have plays for brand new tracks from Klaus Kinski, N.C.R. and (courtesy of Grassroots Community Studio in Cardiff which is being re-opened this week) the Lay-Lows.

Get your magnum opus demos of Welsh musical intrigue to me by sending a high quality .mp3 to themysterytour@gmail.com - please include a short biography and a contact number.

Send gig info / your announcements & comments to the same e-mail address.

Bendigedig!

Adam

Radio One's Big Weekend fringe cuts: The Joy Formidable

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 15:45 UK time, Thursday, 20 May 2010

It's halfway through the fringe week and last night was very special as Huw Stephens and myself joined forces to present the new music build up show for the Big Weekend and highlights from the fringe.

We were also joined by Joy Formidable for a fantastic acoustic session.

You can listen back to the show on Huw's pages, with lots of interviews and so forth from the Fringe, but I caught up with Joy Formidable outside the BBC's Bangor offices for a quick chat for Wales Music. Please excuse the shaky camera work!

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Y Wythnos Fach: Die! Chihuahua! Die! Kixxstart Kitty, Bastions, Leucine - Speakers Corner, Colwyn Bay, Tuesday 18 May 2010

Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:31 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Big Weekend's fringe festival is called Yr Wythnos Fach, the Little Week. The irony, of course, is that it's anything but 'little'. On Monday night we were in Wrexham (as reviewed here), tonight it's Colwyn Bay and - okay - it's not like I've had to drive 1,000 miles dodging kamikaze kangaroos, but it's a good 30 or 40 miles from Wrexham and that gives you an idea of the geographical scope of this series of events.

Also it hints at the musical scope of the fringe. Colwyn Bay - much of the North Wales coast - is resolutely punk and/or hardcore in persuasion. There are, of course, exceptions to this broad generalisation. But it's punk that fires these here ear bellies. Most notably, Colwyn Bay's Global Parasite (debut album, Memento Mori OUT NOW!) - away on a UK tour at the moment - have helped stoke the live music scene here and in Rhyl with a multitude of DIY gigs stretching back over the millennium. The other epicentre of punk/live music up here - the Dudley Arms in Rhyl - is, I believe, closed; a major loss to music lovers in North Wales.

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Radio One's Big Weekend fringe cuts: Leucine and Bastions

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:26 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Colwyn Bay's Speakers Corner was the unlikely venue for last night's hardcore gig with Leucine, Bastions, Kixxstart Kitty and Die Chihuahua Die.

The Big Weekend fringe is gathering momentum and a bright afternoon of sunshine lingered on into evening of pastel coloured walls, pink plastic chairs and the most death curdling of screams.

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"I hope Cheryl Cole notices us as she is single now"

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:26 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A north Wales choir is gearing up for this weekend's Big Weekend when they'll be accompanying an indie band in front of 20,000 music fans, and they're hoping their performance will catch the eye of Cheryl Cole.

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Radio One's Big Weekend fringe cuts: Trader

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 17:03 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

"Hello Wrexham!" Ah, I'm imagining myself back on the stage already. What a fantastic first night of the Fringe rock 'n roll tour of north Wales, as 350 people queue and cram into Wrexham's Central Station to celebrate the best of the new local talent in the area, a line up of No Room For Heroes, Trader, Polly Mackey and Gallops.

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Y Wythnos Fach: Gallops / Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle / Trader / No Room For Heroes, Central Station, Wrexham, Monday 17 May 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:00 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

This is the first night of Yr Wythnos Fach/the Little Week, the fringe festival leading up to BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in Bangor this coming weekend.

Seven venues, three towns and a city across North Wales, over 20 bands, a breathless celebration of (some) of the best talent the area has to offer, in any creative field.

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Hi De Hi Campers! ATP Festival review, curated by Pavement

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 12:13 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The last time I went to All Tomorrow's Parties, I nearly froze. There were gale force winter winds and the rattling prefab walls were no match. In many ways it was the nightmare before Christmas.

Recently migrated to just across the pond from the cliffs of The Vale, the location in Minehead, Somerset near to north Devon is already pretty pleasing, and the chalet looks rather more robust.

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Funeral For A Friend to play Casually Dressed shows

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:54 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

To celebrate departing guitarist Darran Smith's time in Funeral For A Friend, the band will be playing two shows, one in London and one in Cardiff, at which they'll be playing their breakthrough début album in its entirety.

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Funeral For A Friend in 2003

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Alicia Keys' celebration of Wales for Big Weekend

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:12 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

One of the biggest songs of the last five years, Empire State Of Mind by Alicia Keys, has been given a Welsh-flavoured reworking in the run-up to this weekend's Big Weekend in Bangor.

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Solutions, Caesars Rome, I Am Hope - Barfly, Cardiff, Saturday 15 March 2010

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:20 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

I really don't go to as many gigs as I should do these days, but having spent the last couple of weeks writing about Start Something: The Story of South Wales Rock, Bethan Elfyn's Radio One documentary, I felt I really had to go to Cardiff Barfly on Saturday.

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Only Men Aloud scoop top Classical Brit

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:26 UK time, Friday, 14 May 2010

Only Men Aloud, the all-male choir which won the BBC's Last Choir Standing competition in 2008, last night solidified their place in the upper echelon of popular classical music by winning the top prize at the Classical Brits.

The Album of the Year prize went to the choir for their album Band Of Brothers, beating none other than Pope Benedict XVI whose voice appears on the album Alma Mater: Music From The Vatican.

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News from Ekaterina Scherbachenko

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 10:20 UK time, Friday, 14 May 2010

Almost a year after her thrilling win at the 2009 competition, Ekaterina Scherbachenko sang Tatyana in the Bolshoi Opera's Eugene Onegin at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in April 2010. Viv Goldberg caught up with her there.

Ekaterina Scherbachenko (photo: Damir Yusupov)

Ekaterina Scherbachenko (photo: Damir Yusupov)

How has life changed for you since you won the competition last June? Has your win had a direct effect on your career?

Lots has changed! And lots of very good perspectives have appeared for me. One of the most important consequences was that I was immediately signed by a major agency, and my manager there is bringing me many very interesting proposals. I now know my schedule up to 2013 - it's very nice to know what I'm doing but it's also a little frightening! I feel as though I'm not the master of my own life any more and it almost feels as though I've already lived those years!

You've sung Tatyana to many international audiences: in Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Ljublyana, now in Beijing, and with London, Madrid, Lucerne and Monte Carlo later this year. Do you feel a different reaction from different international audiences?

Yes, in Paris and Milan, for example, the audience seems more sophisticated and reserved: in Beijing the audiences are keen to applaud at every opportunity! It is very encouraging to hear this immediate positive feedback, and people in the Bolshoi have said to me that my performances here in Beijing are the best that I have given in this role.

And of course, you sang Tatyana's Letter Scene so memorably in your first appearance in Cardiff Singer.

Yes, and when I heard the audience's reaction I was sure that it would give me a place in the final - and of course it did!

How do you see your career developing? Are you learning any new roles?

Yes, it's very exciting. I'm now learning Donna Elvira and Rusalka. I am trying not to take too much on - this became an issue as I was saying yes to too many things and became scared about how I would cope with it. The next two months are very tough but then it becomes more manageable.

I believe you have some important debuts coming up.

Some great ones! Munich, the Met and Glyndebourne are all in the diary! I will sing Liù in La Scala and Munich next year, Micaela at the Met in 2012 and Mimi at Glyndebourne in 2012.

Where do you see yourself in five years' time? Are there any particular roles you'd like to add to your repertoire?

I would like to sing more French roles, for example Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. Also, I dream about Violetta but I'm not sure about the first act yet - with that high E flat! But it isn't just the roles that I'm looking forward to. I hope to work on new productions, interesting projects - hopefully as important as this production of Eugene Onegin by Dmitri Tcherniakov.

Do you have any advice for future Cardiff Singer competitors?

First of all, only choose arias that you really love and which you do best, don't feel you have to prove you are an all-rounder. I sang Anne Trulove from The Rake's Progress in Cardiff Singer - it was new to me and I only learned it two months before, but I love it so much! Secondly, when you're on stage, forget about it being a competition and just enjoy singing to this really great audience. And by the way, please also send my love to the Cardiff audience!

Crunch time for Classical Brit nominees

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:29 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Classical Brits take place tonight at London's Royal Albert Hall, and anticipation is high for a strong Welsh performance.

Bryn Terfel is the Welsh nominee in the Male Artist of the Year category, up against Antonio Pappano and Vasily Petrenko.

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Terfel's Faenol Festival line-up announced

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:57 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

Bryn Terfel's Faenol Festival, aka Brynfest, is back with a bang this year. Terfel last night announced initial artists on the line-up for the festival, which takes place on 27-30 August.

Westlife, Rhydian Roberts, Hayley Westenra, Rolando Villazon, The Feeling and Athlete are some of the artists appearing.

Find out more from BBC NW Wales.

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Green Man's Green Poll

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 09:52 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

At this time of year, every other Tweet, Facebook message and e-mail that gets flung in my direction is from a band asking me to vote for them to play one festival or another over the coming summer.

The UK's exhaustive (exhausting is probably a better word) array of festivals provides important opportunities for unsigned, self-releasing bands. You can play in front of more people in one set at a festival than you would manage in months of gigging circuit venues. And although the audiences are likely to be ripped to the gills on devil's brew ciders that would be illegal if sold anywhere else, there's a relaxed open-mindedness and hunger for music at most festivals that provides bands with a large, empathetic audience.

It's not jingoism to say that the Green Man Festival is one of the most highly-regarded music festivals in Europe. Its independence from corporate sponsorship; its peerlessly beautiful setting (Glanusk Park in the Brecon Beacons), and its reputation for gathering the world's most fascinating, esoteric artists has established it as the first date British music lovers of a particularly folkish, psychedelic or shimmeringly electronic bent mark on their calendars.

So, a competition for bands or solo artists to play the opening slot at this summer's festival is going to be quite a boon.

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Interview: Kutosis

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 08:14 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

Another new release on the cards for June is a new EP from Cardiff three piece Kutosis, We Are The Animal, You Are The City. The band have gone the extra mile with this release, as not only is it a limited edition CD featuring a poster pullout of fan submitted artwork, but it's accompanied by a video for Small Cities, produced by Strand Films.

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It's good to see bands trying to think outside the box a little when It comes to putting their music out there - in this current climate it's pretty essential to make the music stand out whichever way possible.

Last year Kutosis played the Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds festival nominated on behalf of Introducing In Wales and it's good to se them go from strength to strength with the new recordings. I caught up with Ian, James and Ben to see what's going on with them in the build up to the new release.

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Welsh castle sounds in Jarvis' chillout CD

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:07 UK time, Thursday, 13 May 2010

Jarvis Cocker, the former frontman of Britpop favourites Pulp, has recorded an album of the sounds of nature for National Trust: The Album. It features material recorded at the historic Powis Castle near Welshpool.

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Phil Carradice on Welsh one-hit-wonders

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:04 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Our BBC Wales History blogger Phil Carradice is usually to be found talking about battles, bottles and banks but in a one-off entry for us, he's taken a look at Welsh one-hit-wonders.

Read on to find out about three Welsh singers whose career never lived up to their initial success...

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Interview: Exit_International

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 17:26 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

I've had a few lively discussions with a familiar face on the South Wales rock circuit at a few gigs recently, Scott Lee Andrews.

Scott's name kept cropping up in my recent research into south Wales rock and rightly so: he has been a vital part of the scene since the forming and relentless gigging of his former band Midasuno, so it's good to see him back with a vengeance with his new band Exit_International.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 9 May 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:57 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

This week's show was a twilight forest of mysterious bleeps and crescent moon melodies courtesy of Mold's Mechanical Owl. Their live set from Hendre Hall in Bangor, recorded at the start of March, is all embers and originality, and strikingly beautiful in (many) places.

They're home-recording a debut EP proper at the moment. Expect something subtle and very special indeed - as exemplified by this set.

bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00scb3y/Adam_Walton_09_05_2010/

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Start Something: Listen again

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:23 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Last night saw the broadcast of Start Something: The Story of South Wales Rock, Bethan Elfyn's examination of the South Wales rock scene and its origins in the economically-depressed Valleys areas.

You can listen again to Start Something for the next seven days.

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Start Something: The Story of South Wales Rock

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:34 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

Tonight Radio 1 delves headfirst into the world of Welsh rock. Bethan Elfyn examines why the South Wales valleys have provided Wales' biggest bands of the last 15 years and talks to many of the leading lights, including Lostprophets, The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses.

Find out more about the programme: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00s9wj3M

Watch videos of some of Beth's interviews for the programme: https://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/music/sites/rock/pages/sw-rock-doc.shtml

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Live reviews: Bank Holiday Weekend whirlwind of events in Cardiff

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 14:34 UK time, Friday, 7 May 2010

I had a busy bank holiday weekend, with various musical events taking place around Cardiff. Here are my verdicts on The Bronx, the Barely Regal label launch, and a Brainlove Records night.

The Bronx: Cardiff University, 2 May

Where else could you hear the delightful and ancient sounds of Mexican Mariachi music comfortably on a bill with local punk and rock bands, and the touring fury of LA hardcore band The Bronx. But its precisely down to The Bronx that this acceptance of musical genres is on the cards. The purists of the rock, hardcore and punk scenes have accepted the musical side project from El Bronx because it is quite something to behold.

For one reason or another I've constantly missed The Bronx in their many gigs in Cardiff, but tonight, lead singer Matt Caugthran, is regaling the audience with tales of why Wales is dear to them, and this has a lot to do with their first tour manager, a battered ambulance, alcohol and substance abuse.

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480,000 register for Big Weekend

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:01 UK time, Thursday, 6 May 2010

Back in 1996, 2.6 million people applied for tickets to Oasis' Knebworth shows. It was - and still is - the largest ever registering of interest in a UK concert. Four fifths of those people were unsuccessful and they never got to see their dadrock idols from half a mile away.

It's been reported today in the North Wales Daily Post that 480,000 people registered for tickets for Radio 1's Big Weekend, with just 40,000 of those being successful.

This represents fewer than one in 10 people being successful. That figure is crazy, and it's difficult to imagine many concerts having that level of interest (or disappointment).

It really shows that there is a huge appetite for live music in north Wales - albeit free of course - and the line-up shows that music fans are up for an eclectic bill.

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Tom Hollister Trio sign deal with Gn'R manager

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:41 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A couple of weeks back our colleagues at BBC Wales News brought the news of Abercarn guitarist Chris Buck being proclaimed the "best up-and-coming guitarist" in the World by none other than ex-Guns N' Roses manager Alan Niven.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 2 May 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 10:56 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

This week's festival of Welsh musical excellence was truncated by Sunday night's election debate. But two and a half hours is plenty long enough for an exquisitely recorded session from Wrexham's Heal the Last Stand. They are the North's epicentre of good vibes and perfect, four-part harmonies; a band to elevate the most embittered soul. They're also about to leave for their spiritual home on the West Coast of America. The troubadour spirit is strong in Heal the Last Stand. The melodic spirit is even stronger. Heartwarming stuff!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00s90f4/Adam_Walton_02_05_2010/

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Live: Lostprophets, 1 May, Cardiff International Arena

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:46 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I'm going to lay my cards on the table here: I've seen Lostprophets about 20 times, starting at a sold-out Cardiff Barfly show in 2001 and culminating in this last weekend's headlining Cardiff International Arena.

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Big Weekend - Fringe / Y Wythnos Fach

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:03 UK time, Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Biggest Musical Event to Ever Happen in North Wales EVER (undignified overuse of capital letters and repetition absolutely intentional!) is imminent. And although I'll be just as excited when, say, Klaus Kinski's debut album finally drops, this is a Big Deal. For the best part of a week - between 17 and 23 May - North Wales will be the focus of all of Radio 1's energies and a honeypot for its audience of music-lovers.

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