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The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff

Sometimes there are gigs that really challenge your objectivity. Let me explain. Not only have The Hu built up a decent following across the Globe, but they are UNESCO ambassadors, doing great work for their country. Formed in 2016, they quickly became media darlings due to their combined folk and Metal approach, utilising throat singing and a range of native instruments.

Two albums and countless gigs later, they now sell-out tours with ease. They portray a uniqueness in the world of rock and Metal, another example of how the world of Metal has expanded in a way we would have thought quite astonishing a mere 30 years ago. But despite all the hype around The Hu, I left this gig completely uninspired, unmoved, and bemused at all the fuss.

The Hu / King Nun – The Great Hall, Cardiff – 2 December 2022

Words: Paul Hutchings

Photography: Georgia Brittain

The Hu

The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
The Hu Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

On stage, they come to a huge cheer, spreading out with drums and percussion along with guitars and bass positioned in the back row. The four permanent members take the spotlight ahead of the touring musicians. The stage is bathed in a swirling mist of dry ice, and red and purple light giving an atmospheric feel.

They are smiles but also deadly concentration as The Hu launch into Shihi Hutu, one of several from the latest release Rumble Of Thunder. It’s hypnotic, the drumming and percussion providing the rhythm, the front line playing the Morin Khuur, the tumour huhuur and tovshuur with passion. The throat singing is different, which I think is part of the attraction.

The capacity Cardiff audience was fully behind the Mongolian outfit, stopping in the Welsh capital as part of their Black Thunder tour. The young lady next to me quickly into a whirling, emotional frenzy. Those in the middle of the throng in front of the stage are in deep, caught up in the event.

The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
The Hu Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

There’s little interaction between songs. Maybe due to their limited English, but they utter thanks, and there is some interaction later in the evening. The Hu appear content with their music. They are static, with little movement. It all makes for a bit of a lacklustre watch, and as the songs unfurl, they begin to blend into each other.

They are all based around the same style, and there is little variation. It’s only their encore cover of Sad But True that invites audience participation. Otherwise, it’s song after song, echoing the same as before, prompting the person next to me to ask his neighbour if they’ve played the same song twice.

The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
The Hu Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

As the set wears on, I find myself drifting. Is it the rhythmic pounding of the music or boredom? People are checking their phones, chatting and looking a little zoned out and distracted. You either get The Hu or you don’t.

Realising I’m in the latter camp, I scratch my head and try to work out what is appealing to others that I am missing. They appear gimmicky with their traditional costumes and instruments. Maybe this is why the UK media loves them.

The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
The Hu Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

Like Baby Metal, Bloodywood and Ghost, the gimmick appears more important than the music at times. Different, perhaps but with little impact. Formulaic and repetitive. I can’t get into them at all, and as the show ends, I quickly head for the door.

They are passionate, skilled musicians, but one can’t help wondering where they would be without the hype of magazines and social media.

King Nun

King Nun - The Great Hall, Cardiff
King Nun The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

Opening the evening, we saw the indie tones of King Nun, an energetic alternative band who brought large amounts of energy to proceedings. It seems a strange act to open for a band that draws a largely Metal based crowd. King Nun power through several songs, all of which pass me by a bit.

King Nun / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
King Nun The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

Jangling guitars and vocals don’t do much for me. The audience applause is reasonable, though. Whether it be from politeness or actual encouragement is hard to tell. The Southwest London outfit put their effort in regardless, with tracks from their albums plus a raucous cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges to finish things off in style.

Not my bag by a long way, but for those who like their music a little more alternative, well worth checking out.

King Nun / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
King Nun The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain
The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
The Hu Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain
The Hu / Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall, Cardiff
The Hu Black Thunder Tour hits The Great Hall Cardiff Photo Georgia Brittain

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