Facebook Slider
Kenneth McMurtrie

Kenneth McMurtrie

Rockaway Beach 2020, Butlin's, Bognor Regis - Part Three

Image:- Steven Velentzas (@captainstavros)

Sunday's sunshine enticed us out for a stroll along the front to admire the waves pounding in and to visit a couple of the local pubs as yet untried (with relative success) before Butlin's once again managed to entertain us, this time with go-karting.

Musically the day started off less promising with both Hull's Life and Bristol's Heavy Lungs seeming to fall from the same mold - talented musicians unfortunately fronted by entitled singers. Life's bassist in particular looks set for bigger and better things. Neither band should be faulted for their energy but Life's singer's histrionics (a kind of Jarvis-on-speed without humility) were off-putting to say the least. The excitement of the day may have got to him but me-me-me gets tiresome quickly.

International Teachers Of Pop, another act discovered via Marc Riley, were musically a different kettle of fish. Having been getting into the swing of things since Friday they were clearly as one with the audience. Unfortunately their novelty act schtick wasn't that appealing after more than a couple of songs, nice people though they seemed.

Deciding to take it easy after dinner we opted to miss Brix & The Extricated, although we did pass Brix waiting to be extricated by taxi when we left the hotel to see The Wedding Present, back for their second time at Rockaway Beach. I'd not known they were on the bill and it came as some relief to see their reliable name in the festival booklet. Amazingly they're another act the good Captain was new to. David Gedge and his current band may not have one him over with their competent playing (marred only occasionally by Gedge's guitar sound being too low) and reasonable banter (with enough nous to realise all the Butlin's jokes had been made by this point) but they were as fun to experience as ever as far as I was concerned & generally kept the pace up with only a few slower numbers interspersed.

Closing out this year's festival were 2019's Irish indie wunderkinds Fontaines DC (or "DC Fountains" if you're the Captain). Placing them in the final slot had apparently rattled a few cages, at least on Twitter, but in the end it avoided the scenario from the night before where a bright young act very nearly handed an older one their cards.

I've warmed to the group's album, having initially baulked at the spelling of it's title and the crowd tonight obviously contained a lot of fans of it, being as large as any seen in past years for far more established acts. As far as I know the quintet haven't toured a great deal since its release (happy to be corrected on that point) so this show likely provided more than just me with their first experience of the band live.

An assured and competent show was duly delivered, free of any technical issues and with excellent volume. There just wasn't much real interaction with the crowd (although generally this was a very low chat event across the three days) and something of the album's energy was missing. The performance never got to the plodding stage but neither did the material feel as inspiring as on record. Still, it meant for an early night.

A mixed bag this year then. The efforts of the team behind the event were clearer than ever with the added signing sessions & vinyl sales tables and making the John Robb interviews more visible was a wise move, whilst the camp's new pool complex is a compelling feature for those with the energy to get up and down the flumes. Musically, however, it felt like the weakest line-up of its existence (but then most festival's apart from it had crap bills last year so these things happen). No announcement yet of any acts for 2021 but there was a lot of Teenage Fanclub being piped into the restaurant and along the pathways of the site so who knows ...  

Thanks are also due to the lad in the maroon Napapijri running about on the morning of the last day & digging around in the kids' sandpit - cheers for giving us a laugh as we speculated on what you'd mislaid.

Rockaway Beach 2020, Butlin's, Bognor Regis - Part Two

Image:- Steven Velentzas (@captainstavros)

Saturday dawned grey and blowy so clearly it was the best day to check out the excellent new swimming pool and flumes, improved no doubt by the lack of children (waiting up to 50 minutes to climb upstairs to the highest slides in peak season sounds awful).

Having got that fun out of the way we repaired to see Dutch trio The Sweet Release Of Death. A mix of Sonic Youth & Argentina's Capsula best describes their sound. A loud, propulsive and enjoyable way to start off today's live offerings.

Captain Stavros is a great advocate of the work of Our Girl & for me they were one of the very few acts whose Flying Vinyl disc was worth keeping hold of. This evening though the Brighton trio's sound strikes me as no more than pleasant. More bite is what I seem to be after in many cases this weekend and the indie on offer in their set isn't really grabbing my attention so I step out for some air after a couple of tracks.

Our main stage sojourn tonight kicks off with Peter Perrett, not far off the same vintage as John Cale from the night before. An articulate & amusing lyricist whose set on Marc Riley's 6 Music show last year was one of the best of 2019, he has a great number of punchy songs in his repertoire. Unfortunately he doesn't play these in the first part of his set & I'm left yet again trying to explain an act's relevance to The Captain as we mooch back down the stairs.

Next up though comes what, with hindsight, was the best act of the weekend and I'm not even a fan. Nova Twins' play funk metal, in the main, & that's one sub-genre I've never liked. They do though play it loudly and extremely well (their technical ability is fantastic). Singer Amy Love is genuinely pleased to be playing on a stage in a venue she's been to a number of times on childhood holidays and that pleasure is evident in the exuberance of her and Georgia South on bass (no idea who the bloke on drums is). I manage to stick around for most of the set, just to experience the volume & distortion and it's safe to say they do the job required of warm-up act very well. Perhaps too well in fact.

For tonight's headliners are The Jesus & Mary Chain, reformed in the past couple of years and with an overlong comeback album under their belts. Jim Reid falls foul of the urge to be ironic about Butlin's (managing to equate the place with "Stalag 17") and it's also their bad luck to have poor guitar sound for much of the show, rendering William Reid's guitar solos practically silent. I last saw the band on the Destroyer showcase tour in the '90s in the aircraft hanger that is Glasgow's SECC, a venue far too large for them & so tonight is intimate in comparison. Back then though it was already clear they'd shot their bolt in terms of audience baiting antics etc. and tonight was a reminder of how many of their tunes speak to you as a gloomy teenager but in middle age turn out to be plodders. The final straw is Jim's attempt at a joke prior to the encore "we'll go off for a half cup of tea" - just man up and either say a beer or don't mess around with a break in the set at all. Much of the crowd aren't in a state to care anyway so why not plough on? 

When the band speed things up and the sound technician improves things guitar-wise a bit this is probably a vintage performance from the JAMC as they are now but they were close to being blown offstage by the previous trio. Not feeling the need to stick around for an hour until Steve Lamacq gets behind the decks to unleash some lame musical world cup or other we call it a night.

Subscribe to this RSS feed