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Rockaway Beach - Saturday

  • Published in Live


Having lost the will to stay out and see the final bands last night it seemed only fair to catch the early performers today. So, after a walk around the town and a pint in The Alex openers Fever Dream were checked out. The trio turned out to be excellent purveyors of good, fast shoegaze so this was definitely the right decision. Singer Adrian Fleet even owned up to having been born in Bognor and the fact that his Mum had at one time worked for Butlin's. A nice homecoming touch to an already rewarding performance. 

Zyna Hel were on next door in the Skyline tent, bringing to mind Sarah Brightman fronting the likes of CHVRCHES or Daughter. They'd a decent line in beats but failed to engage me. Something more traditionally indie was required and Orange Yellow Red duly supplied that, along with an excursion into rumbling instrumental work over impassioned vocal samples. They've a nice line in jangly material, particularly on 'Time Slows Down' and a surprising number of spare guitars.

Back in the Skyline Glasgow's St. Deluxe were making a glorious noise, fusing all of the best parts of grunge together into a great racket that was well served by the sound desk but which should really have been experienced in a far more intimate setting. Still, they seemed to enjoy the amount of space afforded them by the stage and got stuck right in. Taking up more room on the main stage were the Band Of Holy Joy, a group who it seemed had chosen that name as an ironic moniker for their singer's dead pan delivery. Droning Puritanism as opposed to the fire & brimstone of John Knox Sex Club yesterday. They brought to mind a performance from over a decade ago by The Nectarine No. 9 and I wasn't impressed by them either.

The Monochrome Set are another of this weekend's longer in the tooth acts and so have a good solid fanbase in tow for their main stage performance. They're another band originating in the tail end of the Seventies that up until now I've only been aware of by name. Those who have known what to expect are clearly well served by the band but for me they lack any real oomph so I head off for more modern fare, albeit as it's Ghostpoet I've equally little acquaintance with his tunes.

He and his band are in full flight when I make it into the Red stage and the crowd are fully involved dancing and jumping about. There's a real Saturday night party atmosphere been created and the songs have a far greater urgency live than on record it seems. Ghostpoet himself is sweating cobbs as he bounds about the stage, whoping up the crowd and band alike. A fellow audience member is overheard comparing the show to the work of the Lost Poets and that's pretty fair. I need to give his albums another listen in a new light.

Back on the main stage Nadine Shah is a performer I'm more familiar with, albeit more from her time in Trans Global Underground (which wasn't exactly yesterday). I'm therefore not really expecting her to be weilding a guitar in a fairly standard rock and roll kind of way. Initial adjustments of perception made her set's one of great radiance, despite a recurring farty bass sound. Current album Fast Food gets a good work through and all round this is the sort of performance you'd expect from a strong act of Shah's calibre. One of the clear highlights of the three days.

Shah was though, by my reckoning, around about 30 minutes late hitting the stage. Public Service Broadcasting appear to have topped that by 15 minutes as I'm expecting them to be well into their alloted 90 minutes when I get back into Reds yet sound levels still seem to be getting tested and equipment plugged in. The downside of making use of a lot of techy stuff beside guitar, bass & drums maybe. The audience aren't phased though and greet the successful start of the show with a resounding cheer. Similar to the Ghostpoet set elements of the band's work that aren't readily obvious on their records come to the fore here, particularly the drumming and therefore the danceability of many songs.

The stage here isn't maybe quite large enough to give full rein to the projections they employ and the Sputnik-like model they have sticking out of the back wall ends up looking rather more Carry On than was probably intended but, for a bunch of guys looking like runners up in a Dr. Who impersonation contest, this is a seriously enjoyable show, not least for their Speak & Spell-like take on the fact they're playing Butlin's in Bognor.

The final act on the main stage tonight is another old hand whose earlier work is where my familiarity lies. Johnny Marr's done the guitarist-for-hire bit for a few years now but with the release of The Messenger and last year's Playland he's back taking centre stage as both singer and guitarist. The latter of those jobs is a sight that anyone with a love of top class guitar playing should make a point of seeing at least once, both in terms of ability and the way in which the instrument is dealt with as if it were a part of Marr himself. However, as with a couple of other performances I seem to be at odds with the bulk of the crowd as the kind of dad rock of 'New Town Velocity' and other songs saps my energy rather than leaving me wanting more. A trip back to see PSB finds them doing a slow number and so, lacking the will to stay up until possibly 2am to see Teeth Of The Sea again (assuming my calculations of the earlier delays are correct) I slink off to bed.


Together The People, Preston Park, Brighton - Day 1

  • Published in Live

A new festival venture at the end of summer which aims to bring a sense of community to the good folk of Brighton and beyond managed to catch the last rays of the summer sun.

The festival is situated in the vast open spaces of Preston Park and the line-up promised a combination of seasoned festival favourites along with a host of new exciting acts. The crowd is a mixture of Hipster families and their children, festival veterans in their 30s and 40s and a splattering of students and teenagers.

Armed with our lanyards we descended into the throng. Our first few acts confirmed our hopes with MOK attempting to blow away the grey threatening skies with their upbeat Rudimental-type sound which got the early crowd going. Over on the main stage Chris Simmons rewarded our ears with some lovely acoustic numbers plus a few well chosen crowd-pleasing covers.  

With the sun now out in force the festival really starts with the arrival of Lucy Spraggen, the former X factor contestant turned anti-Cowell enthusiast, who treated us to her upbeat politicised songs which go down a storm with the Brighton crowd. Her wonderful honestly enhances her approach to song writing and such tracks as ‘Don't Know Nothing About The Blues’ and her hit ‘Last Night’ are great crowd pleasers.

Time now for the festival to demonstrate its community side with the arrival of the Horrible Histories a live version of the children’s TV hit. This creates a strange combination of very excited children with middle class parents panicking about their child’s races to see the acts whilst trying not to look like they are straining to hear the excellent Ghostpoet. Fortunately slightly poor planning on the festival's part means both main stages are facing each other. So for this instant it works perfectly. However throughout the rest of the festival this would illustrate a bit of a schoolboy error with a large area in the middle of the festival becoming a clash of sound in one big useless racket. This could have been avoided with better timing as there were times when both main stages were playing and big gaps when neither was.

However all this was soon forgotten with the arrival of the wonderful Mr. Billy Bragg. Billy’s left wing songwriting needed no introduction and found a welcome home nestled in the green lefty Brighton audience. His powerful ideology and connection with the audience regarding refugees display an artist who is as important now as he perhaps ever was.

The Xcerts countered at the end of his set and raised the noise levels. The exciting young three piece ensured the younger ears were well catered for with their full on rock sound. In search of something away from the main stages we popped into the other stages. There was a calm oasis in the Folklore stage. We also managed to catch the end of Atlas Wynd in the BIMM tent (Brighton Institute of Modern Music) to see the duo serving up a diet of pure and raw rock noise.

Back to the main stage and the crowd takes off with the arrival of The Levellers. It suddenly feels like a proper festival complete with huge audience participation and crowd surges as they blast out their honed folk rock sounds and the crowd laps it up. The final acts of the day offer up a dilemma, do we opt for the new exciting indie rock Brighton boys Brakes or plump for the psychedelic indie Welsh wonders of the 1990s the Super Furry Animals? Locality wins and we enjoy a wonderful set from Brakes and still manage to catch SFA with a few whispers in the crowd that we hadn’t missed much. It looks like we had chosen wisely as the Super Furry Animals were misfiring somewhat.  So that was the end of the first day; we trudged home and awaited an excellent line-up on the morrow.

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