REVIEW: #pontysbigweekend Saturday July 23rd

Ponty Park as it’s known locally, or to give the full correct name Ynysangharad War Memorial Park has played host over the last five years to some of rock and pops biggest names.

Back in 2005 to celebrate Tom Jones’ 65th birthday, he played to 20,000 people. In 2006 an event called the Full Ponty was held. Feeder, Funeral for a friend and a performance from a little known band called Biffy Clyro. There were also other events happening throughout the weekend all across the town. 2007 saw The Automatic, Lost Prophets, and Paramore. There was no event in 2008 due to “no big names being available”. Although “Ponty’s Big Weekend” did happen in the Muni with Alphabeat headlining.

It returned to the park in 2009 with Rhondda Cynon Taff organising two days of music, Sugababes headlining the Saturday, and a free concert on Sunday with Only Men Aloud (and a boy who would go onto perform at 2011’s event – Jay Worley!)

2010 saw JLS in the park on the Saturday (a gig which sold out in an hour!), and Hayley Westenra headlined Sunday’s free concert.

So there’s your history lesson done with – now to Saturday’s 2011 event!

Presented by RCT once more, I was really surprised at the size of the created arena – it was really small, well felt it anyway. It wasn’t a sellout like last year as you could still get tickets on the day. The Wanted not such a big a band as JLS? Maybe this time next year? My own little gripe about the day was the way it was presented. Now being biased in anyway, but Capital FM should at least have some idea of where they were and who they were talking to so to ask questions from stage like “anyone here from Treforest” (no response), “from Blackwood?” (medium kind of response), “err..from Ponty?” (slightly louder than the previous response). Not saying audience interaction like this shouldn’t be done, but don’t do it if you’re not sure of the response – maybe the Capital FM rebrand of Red Dragon FM is still in it’s early days? Maybe the use of the actual local radio station might’ve helped? Damn, I’ll even do it for free next year – at least I know who I’m talking to 😉 Anyway, I digress, back to it. I’ll do a brief review of each act, highlights etc, and maybe score them? Or maybe not…

Kicked off with Sweet Manics. Female duo from “up the road” in the Cynon Valley. Very much in the vain of Barberellas. Nice mashup of Tatu’s All the thing’s she said and Katy Perry’s ET.  Nicely opened the event – 8

Second up was Jay Worley, BGT Semi finalist from this year.  A local boy, and the crowd of predominately teenage girls loved him. He was okay, but give him another couple of years for him to come into his own and you’ll have a really good singer and then he’ll know how to work the crowd – 7

Another reality “star” from “just down the road” Tom Richards (XFactor). Kind of the same from him as for Jay, needs time to develop as a performer – 7.

Fourth on the bill was something of a curveball. Sophie Evans who hails from Tonypandy (yes, that’s in Rhondda Cynon Taff Capital FM, but when you say someone’s from RCT it makes it sound like your reading what you’ve been given). She was a finalist in Over the Rainbow – the search for Dorothy in Wizard of Oz. Awesome voice, but not really suited to where she was (although she’s also performed on Sunday’s “classical” event). Can’t really judge her performance the same way as you would for the rest of the line up but in terms of quality, she has oodles of it – even if some of the people behind us didn’t appreciate it. 8 (would be 9 but for the fact she wasn’t really a big crowd pleaser)

Then came Fanfair.  Didn’t know much beforehand about these, and even now don’t really know that much. Had some good vocals though but maybe the girlband market is already saturated? 7

Which takes us nicely onto Soundgirl. Seen them perform with Scouting for Girls a few weeks back and liked their vocals. Let down by one microphone out of the three not being of the right level. Crowd seemed to like them – 7

From here on in, you have the “big hitters” – first up, Starboy Nathan. If there was one act that was able to play to the crowd and get a whole host of love in return, he got it. It’s my first experience of him, and he was good, in a Jason Derulo kind of way – even if he stripped his shirt off (and his two dancers did also) – 9

Back earlier in year I saw Twenty Twenty supporting The Saturdays . They’re pretty much in the Mcfly/Busted style and another huge hit with the crowd. It won’t be long till they’re utilizing that 83000 facebook fanbase (not 43000 Capital FM) and having songs in the chart. 9

Just before we got to Dionne Bromfield, my friend was checking her facebook and someone had posted about Amy Winehouse dying. I was straight onto Twitter and learned what had happened.  Felt really very strange if I’m honest. Here we were about to watch Amy’s goddaughter perform within hours of her finding out what had happened. Would she go on? Could she go on? Had she been told?

As it happened, Dionne Bromfield went on with the show, and if I’m honest I did well up a little. Can’t explain that feeling now, but at the time it just felt very intense. Not only did she perform but she performed really well. Don’t think the crowd got her music though which was a shame, but in the circumstances I think she was amazing. 10 (just for performing under the circumstances)

Then to the main event.

The Wanted

Not really been a big Wanted fan so maybe I’m in a good position to judge what I saw?  Okay lyrically they’re a boy band – and that’s exactly what you get – but seemingly not in the polished way of the past. They seem a bit more rough around the edges. Yes, you’ve got one for everyone – take your pick out of the 5. And maybe just because they’re not in the same way of Take That in the early days makes them look a little different?  Whether they stay the course over the next few years is another thing, they all have different personalities and whether one has already been groomed for a solo career who knows. Back to the present, they performed  all their hits – Lose my mind, Heart Vacancy, Gold Forever, Glad you came and their debut single All time low which ended the day quite well. Also did a couple of covers – Iris & Animal – but if you’ve seen them on their first tour, you’ll have seen the same songs albeit performed in Ponty Park. I think the 6000 odd who were there in the park were Glad they came…..  10

My favourite part of the day came at the very end upon walking into the bus station to get the number 10 home – and seeing Sweet Manics waiting for the Aberdare bus. We all gotta start somewhere huh 🙂

The only thing I would’ve changed would’ve been the timings – TwentyTwenty or Starboy Nathan would’ve been much better just before The Wanted , that aside a successful day out in the park – a party maybe…. Hmmm.. Party in the Park? There’s a good idea!

Click on the photo to see the rest of the images

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