Live : Gwilym Bowen Rhys08.07.2017 : GŴYL ARALL, Caernarfon
Gwilym Bowen Rhys is in his early twenties - he has already been part of an award winning Welsh language pop-rock band, Y Bandana, recording music as flawlessly formed as Heno Yn Yr Anglesey, Plu - an alt. folk trio with his two sisters - whose last album Tir a Golau was rightly acclaimed, and the superb collaborative project Bendith.
In 2016 he released a debut solo folk album, O Groth y Ddaear. This exhilarating and ecstatic performance was based in part around songs from it.
The festival set was half an hour long; four musicians stood in a line - two fiddles and accordion offering exquisite backing to Gwilym's guitar and lead vocal. For the whole time the music swirled and soared, danced and shimmered, driven by the fiddles and spellbinding musical energy; on the solo record there is a rare deftness of touch and subtly, on stage the sound is reforged with charisma and compelling intensity.
However much Gwilym Bowen Rhys often appears lost in the music, he knows how to focus to put together a set - momentum was built, tempo quietly shifting, until a sustained fifteen minute crescendo sparked by an animated version of Ben Rhys, one of the standout songs from O Groth y Ddaear. If it wasn't before, from then on the room was utterly in his hands; at one point, using his feet for added percussion whilst playing furiously, for a few moments he was stamping all along the edge of folk perfection.
Gwilym Bowen Rhys will be a major figure in Celtic music. The music presented here was scintillating, coruscating and stunning; this is how it must have felt if you were Irish and saw Planxty in 1972.
If you run a festival put him on your stage, if you run a folk club book him, and if you have just a few pounds of change in your pocket pay to see him play.