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Festival Coverage: The Great Escape - Day 3

  • Published in Live

With a heavy head and tired feet we drag our carcasses out for the final day. The excellent Great Escape app alerts us to a surprise outdoor gig outside of the Brighton library and we head here first.  

To our complete surprise it’s the massive talent of Rag 'N' Bone Man. And though announced very last minute, it pulls in a huge crowd and as it's outdoors in the baking sunshine, it is certainly a wonderful start. As he knocks out his hits the word gets around and by the end of his short set he has a huge audience. As the crowds fade away we stay to catch the brilliant songwriting talents of Vince James, whose honest, in-depth storytelling lyrics are bound to project this guy to bigger and brighter things.

Next up is Flamingods a five piece from Bahrain who are multi-instrumentalist consisting of drummers and guitarist. They show of their skills by swapping after each track.  There swirling Middle Eastern rhythms meet psychedelic guitars in a wonderful mixture of world sounds.  Continuing the world music theme we plump for Sarathy Korwar an Indian artist of traditional folk music who has just been signed to Ninja Tune. The blend of beats, folk and jazz are continuing to grow his reputation on the back of his new album which we highly recommend.

We pop across to Brighton marina to catch some more beats in the form of Blue Lab Beats. These two guys have produced and remixed many artists including the aforementioned Rag n Bone Man.  After gaining reputation as remixers they decided to go alone and breakout on their own to huge effect.  We march to catch The Parrots in the blazing sunshine and the hideous weather of previous days is now a distant memory. These Spanish indie rock and rollers are great fun and bring a wonderful energetic sound. We now have a short few hours break from the afternoon sessions until we attack our final night. We start off with the wonderful Daniel Wakeford. He gained fame via the Channel 4 tv show The Undateables. And now he’s a singer at the festival. He is simply wonderful and the huge outdoor crowd roar and scream their appreciation for a man whose warmth and love of music and performing is undeniably infectious. 

We feel we need a calming softer act to refuel so we plump for Julie Byrne, a country acoustic artist who transports us to a front porch of the deep south with her wonderful melodies of the mysterious of love. She is also a wonderfully talent guitarist and we are suitably calmed and relaxed. Ayia are an Icelandic electro pop three piece who serve up post-apocalyptic, intimidating, glichy, abstract dance music.

Jane Weaver is an intense artist that demands your immediate intention with her intense haunting voice that we were lucky to catch as she drew a huge crowd. Even bigger crowds come to see Baloji who comes highly recommend. He has so many talents from poetry to filmmaking and he wows us with a visual and sound display of epic proportions. There was a rumour of a secret gig in the same venue and to our absolute delight it’s the incredible John Grant. We are treated to very intimate performance and judging by the sheer size of the crowd it wasn’t that big a secret. He is such an intense and wonderful performer with a wonderful sense of humour. 

We race to catch a bit of Brighton’s own The Magic Gang with their lovely cross over sound. Relaxed indie yet a larger vocal presents is how we would describe them. We are running out of time so we plump for a final bit of urban in the form of Ryan De La Cruz. He is simply sensational with a wonderful crowd interaction and boundless energy. This is followed by the equally excellent Stefflon Don who loyal fan based packed out the venue. She finished with an impromptu stage invasion where half the audience join her.  Our Final act of the three days were Pom Poko from Norway a geeky four piece punk pop band who sum up the brilliance of this festival. Multi layers of genres throw together from acts all over the world who all come to celebrate the amazing thrill of live music.


Festival Coverage: The Great Escape - Day 1

  • Published in Live

With another sell out festival and a huge line up the annual Great Escape just keeps getting better and better. With the added input from major sponsors and BBC 6 Music the importance to new artists and their exposure this event generates is massive. 

The best example of this is Rag 'N' Bone Man. Last year he was tucked away in a tiny club and 12 months later he is the major showcase attraction. The theme this year is defiantly a huge spotlight on the exploding UK grime and urban music scene. The sheer amount of artists is incredible and as with each year there are far too many to cover.

The urban grime theme is matched by the very grimy weather as it is absolutely chucking it down. However we plump for our first artist. He is Pierre Kwenders and covers a lot of bases. He is a Canadian/Congolese rap jazz artist and also easily the most beautiful man we have ever seen. He oozes cool and is the perfect showman with laid back rhythm and superb presents as he raps in five languages. Not a bad start at all. 

With the weather not abating we force our way onto Brighton seafront to catch some sun drenched dreamy pop. This seems to be the most inappropriate music possible due to the outside weather but we need to dry off. The noise makers are a New Zealand band Fazerdaze and draw similarities to Smashing Pumpkins. They certainly warm us up with a warm fuzzy slice of California inspired guitar hooks. Back into the now horizontal rain and we need our spirits lifted. Who better than The Goon Sax, an Australian trio who have a huge debut album behind them the place was packed. They are so uncool they are by definition, cool. Think Ian Dury meets Cardigans is my best attempt at their unique sound. More rain greets us but by now we decided it beats working and we run off to catch the pure song writing talents of Vince James.  

BBC 6 Music are running a live broadcast and we decide to plump ourselves here for a few hours until the night shows start up. We are honoured as the one and only Steve Lemacq fist bumped me. It also allowed us to catch a few acoustic acts and listen to some wonderful tunes as we dried our socks out over a speaker. 

Tonight we start with Psychedelic jazz from Bahrain’s own Flamingods. These guys were crazy and leap about the stage. Drawing influences and similarities to Goat they started the evening off well.  We continue our world music inspired evening with Ibibio Sound Machine a wonderful one woman West African electro disco funk machine. 

Now we enter fully the British Isles grime and urban music scene with Avelino. Looking like a version of Snoop Dogg. This guy is going to be huge and he conducted himself with a wonderful upbeat session. 

“Don’t show up to my show if you got no…. (energy) “

He preached a no bad energy vibe that cemented his future as the changing face of this ever changing genre. Finally the act that we all been waiting for Rejjie Snow. An Irish-based kid from Dublin managed to pack out a huge venue and judging by the queue alone could have filled it twice over. He did not disappoint, spitting some serious bars he had the place absolutely rocking.  He pumped out ‘Flexin’ and ‘Blakkst Skin’ with a wonderful female singer who the crowd lapped up. 

With limited access we finally tried to fit in one last act. Scanning what is around we had to plump for a band called Fuck Art, Let’s Dance. How could you not want to see an act calling themselves this? They are a German outfit whose main aim is to be very angry and very loud they are the perfect end to a wonderful first day.  

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