Clash's pick of the best action at the Welsh festival...

Well that was a boozy weekend…

I heart The Laugharne Weekend. I don’t really want to share it with you; I want it to remain a well-kept secret cherished by a lucky few. Set in the sleepily stunning town that inspired Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood and provided a backdrop for the film The Edge Of Love, the three-day event involves an excellent programme of readings and gigs in the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and several pubs including the infamous Brown’s Hotel. It also offered the unmissable chance to see Ray Davies (The Kinks) and Mick Jones (The Clash) in an intimate setting and then mingle in glorious Welsh sunshine with the musicians, writers and actors between events.

As it turned out Mick Jones and his manager were so disappointingly insular and boring in the first half that I went back to the pub, but that was my only low point of the festival. Ex-Gorky Richard James’ musical curation soared with a host of Welsh stars making pretty noise, including the lovely Cate Le Bon, the sparklingly psychedelic pop of recently-signed Race Horses (formerly Radio Luxembourg and definitely Ones To Watch), and the fiddletastic Threatmantics with their fearless viola-wielding frontman. It also boasted a well-received first outing for Euros Childs’ (pictured) new project Johnny, in which he folked it up with Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake. All in all a programme of complete pleasure wrapped up perfectly by James’ own sardine-packed and absolutely rocking Sunday gig (despite the new strings on his guitar). The set included the beautiful ‘Seven Sleepers Den’ number ‘My Hearts On Fire’ and, even more charmingly, Cate Le Bon, Euros Childs and Threatmantics all guested during the set. James has a second solo album in the offing and from this performance I’d expect great things.

Gap-toothed Ray Davies cut an introspective figure on stage at the Millennium Hall as he read from his eccentrically entertaining unauthorized autobiography X-Ray. He spliced the wordy bits with gentler new tracks before a crowd pleasing end which included Kinks numbers ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and, a sing-along personal favourite, ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’. The boozy crowd participation has barely altered in 25 years.

Literary highlights included appearances by Rachel “I hate novels” Trezise, the 2009 Dylan Thomas Prize winner Nam Le, Joe Dunthorne (reading the real-time sex scene from Submarine), Björk collaborator Andri Snaer Magnason, Simon Armitage, Robert Lewis, Niall Griffiths, Dan Rhodes, Matthew Scott and the filthy rogue that is DBC Pierre.

The festival itself closed with an enchanting solo performance from Jo Bartlett (It’s Jo and Danny) and a rowdier session for the institution that was Twin Town read through by the original cast. A more appropriate ending for this lost weekend of cultural magic and mayhem came from Ray Davies, who finished off his set with ’Days’, because right now, Laugharne: “I won’t forget a single day, believe me.”

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Words: Susie Wild
Photography: Emyr Young - click HERE for full gallery


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