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Kenneth McMurtrie

Kenneth McMurtrie

Rockaway Beach 2019, Butlin's, Bognor Regis - Part Two

Photographs by Steven Velentzas

The Saturday headline slot was filled by the obvious big draw of electronic/industrial pioneer Gary Numan. Various t-shirts from past tours were in evidence throughout the camp all day and people we chatted with had seen him anything up to a dozen times since he started out. Anticipation was naturally high and it’s fair to say that there was little room for disappointment. ‘Are Friends Electric?’ was rather too industrialised (with the quiet passages being almost acapella) but aside from that the material both old and new was delivered in consummate fashion. Certainly a pleasing show if, like me, you’d never seen him before.

Sunday saw us starting early again to see Squid at Noon. And well worth it they were too. An eclectic, Parquet Courts-influenced (or I’m a Dutchman) quintet, they had bags of energy and a lot to say about houseplants and older movie icons. Too-short trousers were in evidence again (something, along with moron antennae, the general age of the crowd thankfully means few of) but musically they manage a sound beyond their years & so should hopefully gain wider acclaim as 2019 progresses.

Post-Sunday roast the earlier momentum was somewhat lost by the pedestrian Yassassin. They were making all the right musical noises but I failed to engage. Lorelle Meets The Obsolete were as good as expected but still rather too dreamy to hold my attention for long, particularly when a good seat couldn’t be found. Standing up for shoegaze isn’t as fun as it used to be.

Rounding off the shows in the smaller hall tonight was another first sighting for me – Luke Haines. Given the equipment littering the stage for the bulk of the weekend it was almost a shock to see him there with just his guitar, to deliver songs about “wrestlers, terrorism & Peter Sutcliffe”. But deliver them he did, to the obvious enjoyment of the numerous fans in attendance. Merriment ensued at one point when, having merely raised his arm to illustrate a point in a song, he broke off to assure us he'd not been attempting a Nazi salute & then had to be reminded where in the song he’d been, all the time laughing at what an odd moment he’d just given us all. Not a manner in which you’ll often see acts trip themselves up.

Eddie Argos had been watching Luke Haines although the arm incident wasn’t something he included when mentioning the fact later on upstairs. ‘Cult Band’ was the song being introduced at the time, the inference being that Haines is a cult figure. Which seems fair to me. Art Brut were the third of this weekend’s acts I’d previously not seen but was keen to and they were on the bill in just the right spot. Whipping the crowd up, despite a rather long bit of waffle during ‘We Formed A Band’ and another later on when Eddie dithered about the stage wondering whether to get into the pit or not (he did eventually then regretted it) they were on point and got the crowd bouncing along, with the newer material  from Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out! sitting comfortably alongside the older songs. His Mum would have been proud.

 

Echo & The Bunnymen were the final act of the weekend. Still arriving onstage to the accompaniment of Gregorian chants they're clearly back in love with their own material as there was none of the cover version malarkey from the same event four years ago (although apparently some random Doors lyrics were bandied about later in the set) so the adoring fans were well served. And that was it for another year. The Jesus And Mary Chain have already been announced as the main headliner in 2020 so get booking and start the year of perfect vision in fine aural style as well.  

Rockaway Beach 2019, Butlins, Bognor Regis - Part One

Photographs by Steven Velentzas

Hogmanay’s but a dim memory so it’s time for the first festival of the year. With temperatures high enough that a jacket’s largely superfluous this time Bognor Regis once again proves that it makes sense to head South in January for Rockaway Beach.

Having broken the journey up this time with a London overnight (during which it has to be noted that the excellent Feet were seen live at The Shacklewell Arms. An ideal act for a daytime slot at RB2020) we arrived in good time for dinner rather than rushing in to drop luggage and then try to catch some of whatever performance started at 7pm, as has been the case in the past. Slow time arrival is definitely the way forward.

First up then were Madonnatron, a perfectly decent early afternoon act who suffered from looking a bit bored and not really being that engaging musically. Benin City were unfortunately even less to my taste so dinner was sought out with the hope that the much anticipated Goat Girl would open the evening’s proceedings in good form and the event would finally take off.

Sadly they appeared to be off form and going through the motions, rather than the lively shot in the arm which was required & which you’d have easily been forgiven for expecting if you’ve ever heard them on the radio. Cutting our losses at this point (having never been Maximo Park fans) we called it a night.

Having a pal along this time around meant there was encouragement to give the earlier acts of the day a look on Saturday, so it was that the heavy sounds of John J. Presley were taken in. An impressively weighty trio, suffering only from the Rhodes & whatever device was atop it not coming through much in the mix they, and later act Desert Mountain Tribe provided good, full-on sets of a vaguely gothic rock which certainly whetted the appetites of those who saw them.

Band merchandise was a bit thin on the ground this year but The Spook School, as well as turning in their usual fast, energetic & witty performance, certainly got top marks for their t-shirt designs and keen pricing. Good to spot them later on being punters too. They were followed up by Leeds’ Menace Beach, the first of a number of acts utilising A LOT of equipment. Questionable trouser choices aside theirs was another no nonsense and engaging performance, ably replicating their recorded work & then some.

Rounding off the Reds shows for today were Atlantean quartet Algiers who complimented their array of store-bought equipment with what looked to be a guitar body with a couple of snare cables fastened to it, for use both as something to be stamped on as well as beaten. Pretty effective it was too. This was probably the most energetic & emotionally charged set of the afternoon and, whilst I’ve been advised they’re less accessible on album, they are definitely an act you should try to catch in a small venue if you get the chance.

 

Barry Adamson opened up the Centre Stage tonight and his ease & knack with the crowd was a pleasure to witness. His private detective/film noir schtick isn’t for everyone though and, lovely bloke though he obviously is, I took a walk after a few songs as none of it was really reaching me. Next up the scheduling was a bit awry, placing as it did Halifax’s Orielles in between Adamson & the headliner. They performed admirably (certainly more in keeping with expectations than Goat Girl) and clearly had fun doing so but their sound’s rather too light to build on what went before & amply set the mood for what was to come. What their inclusion did do though was further highlight how well the festival gets the gender balance right, with a great number of acts including one or more women, something other events should definitely be taking note of.

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