It’s a shame that Bardd is tucked away in one corner of what is usually an Edinburgh hotel, as this North Walian four-piece is one of only a few pieces that feels like it’s actually of Wales. Describing themselves as a mix of folk and hip hop, Bardd fuse electronic sampling and live instrumentation to create a unique sound.
But the real calling card are the vocals. The two vocalists, Martin Daws and Mr Phormula, are ridiculously good, singing and rapping bilingually over hip hop beats and soulful trumpeting from Neil Yates. Daws’s other life as a poet comes to the forefront in tracks like River Song, which feels like a love letter to Wales. Another track, about Grenfell Tower in London (not far from where Daws grew up), is short but deeply poignant.
Henry Horell is excellent on keys and background vocals, his higher pitch complimenting Daws’ baritone spoken word beautifully. However, without a doubt, the star of the show is Mr Phormula. He may be dressed unassumingly in t-shirt, jeans and trilby hat, but Phormula is a genius with the microphone in his hand. Whether it’s rapping, beatboxing or creating a vocal soundscape, the Welsh artist is a captivating presence on stage. He really comes into his own in a soulful cover of How Many Mics by The Fugees, their influence keenly felt on this great foursome.
Tricky is another artist whose presence can be heard in Bardd’s music, but what makes Bardd so distinctly them is the Welshness. Their music is as much about bringing the Welsh language to the world as it is about entertaining it, and that can only be admired. A great set from a great band.