Saturday, 23 May 2015

One photo from each gig - The Great Escape 2015 - Saturday

I think I needed Friday night off because I was able to enjoy Saturday end-to-end!

It's arguable whether many of the better known bands were saved for the Saturday but this was the biggest day in terms of the number of gigs and no doubt crowds, and crowd-wise I got to see everything that I wanted to see, excepting the many clashes of course.

One victim of a clash was The Zombies, the full band at Horatios at the end Brighton Pier, but with the Zombies acoustic set in the tiny Black Lion only the day before, perhaps the impact of that intimate gig would have been diluted. It was see them or see Slaves and Shamir and I am always one for something new.

The day kicked off early at 11.30am in The Green Door Store with an understated husband and wife duo from Winnipeg in the great plains of Canada.

(View all my Great Escape Festival 2015 photos)

Leaf Rapids at The Green Door Store,
At the end of the gig I was joined by a friend from London and we had to get her wristband so we were taken towards the seafront and that led to another visit to the crowded Black Lion. I thought we were going to get to see PinkShinyUltrablast, but the venue was already running late so we were entertained by a couple of numbers from Fever Dream.

Fever Dream play The Black Lion, Brighton
There followed a quick planning session including a discussion on what exactly Soul Music is before going to get a whole bucket load from Ady Suleiman.

Ady Suleiman plays the Dome Studio Theatre, Brighton
It was definitely beach weather so next stop would be Concorde 2 which was hosting a variety of Australian bands.

Bad // Dreems play Concorde 2 Brighton
Bad // Dreems and one of those annoying phones!
Actually that is my friend doing the video on the phone and it was not annoying because she was at the front and not holding the phone in the sight line of those behind. Actually there was precious little phone recording going on at The Great Escape - I think this is because people who go to watch these less well known bands are more intent on taking in the music and not collecting a souvenir to go with the t-shirt. (Discuss!)

There followed a quick beach break to devour our burgers from the Australian Beach BBQ. Well, it was not exactly on the beach, nor was is a BBQ burger - just a typical fried burger off the back of a van. And we had to pay for them too, unlike the Canadian BBQ for the Leaf Rapids and other gigs at The Green Door Store which was off a proper BBQ grill AND was free. Good old Canada, lived there for 2 years and they do know how to look after their musicians and music fans!

Tkay Maizda, from Australia, plays Concorde 2 Brighton
Tkay Maizda was energetic but not quite our cup of tea so it was time to stroll back along Madeira Drive and down the pier to Horatios Bar where a sparse crowd were treated to a terrific set from Delta Rae, a band from North Carolina, USA.

Delta Rae play Horatios Bar on Brighton Pier
Next up was the little matter of making sure we saw Slaves. It was off to the the big hall of The Corn Exchange where there was a long queue which moved quickly and we were in for the close of the Bad Breeding set before Girl Band hit the stage, followed by Slaves.

Bad Breeding at the Corn Exchange, Brighton
Girl Band - boys from Ireland - at the Corn Exchange, Brighton
Of all the bands that I saw at The Great Escape, Bad Breeding were the only ones I had previously encountered and that was a much smaller gig in the basement of the Patterns venue, then known as Audio. They came across much the same way that Girl Band did, the latter described as "sparse shouty vocals over intense noise textures"in the festival programme. Both bands may have been overhyped because I certainly perceived that, like me, most of the audience was there to make sure they saw Slaves.

Slaves enjoying a little crowdsurfing
There's another offstage photo - Slaves doing a spot of crowd surfing. That is Laurie Vincent's head. And I guess Isaac Holman will know whether or not they are his boots somersaulting backwards...

A quick exit took us to our next venue, another new one for me, The Haunt. When we arrived, Heat was on stage, again we just managed to get in and for the rest of the evening the venue was full.

A photo from the back, Heat at The Haunt
Now a lot closer - a wide angle shot of Shamir
Shamir's musical heroes are apparently Michael Jackson and Prince. Decidedly androgynous, and from Las Vegas, he is certainly distinctive and is tipped to go far. I could not disagree.

We resisted the temptation to stay for Gengahr and drifted North towards the station where my friend needed to get a train. We popped briefly into the Brighthelm Centre for a song or two from the Scottish band Admiral Fallow.

Admiral Fallow
That was it. And I have just noticed that Early Bird tickets for The Great Escape 2016 are already on sale!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

One photo from each gig - The Great Escape 2015 - Thursday and Friday

I had intended to do an all-encompassing photo essay on the audiences, people on the streets, as well as the bands at this "Europe's Leading Festival for New Music". But having decided on working light in terms of the gear I was carrying, I realised that I would have to concentrate on one thing, and I chose the bands. So here is a chronological account of my Great Escape, or at least the first two days because Saturday is dealt with in my next post.

I've restricted myself to one photo from each stage - but if things went a little off stage there may be another! Some of these gigs I saw the whole way through. Some I was there for less than one song simply because of the way the timing worked. The quality of the image is usually proportional to the amount of time at the gig!

To begin at the beginning, noon on Thursday and I was in one of the three venues where the first chords would sound out, upstairs at The Prince Albert.

Chili and the Whalekillers - an "Icelandic-Austrian" band
Model Aeroplanes live at the Brighthelm Centre, Brighton
I very quickly learned that even though I was walking very quickly between venues, I was not fast enough, arriving at The Hope and Ruin just in time to hear the last 10 seconds of Joe Dolman's performance. Like The Prince Albert, the place was packed, even so early. I was too late to have time to pull my camera out of my bag so no photo - and Joe Dolman will now probably be the Next Big Thing...

So it was a 100 yard sprint to The Brighthelm Centre to hear a few songs from four young guys that form a band called Model Aeroplanes. The bass player gave me a great smile at one stage which I think was for the camera rather than in amusement at the grey haired guy standing at the front....

The pace did not let up at these early stages for after a few songs I was off to the nearby Komedia for Flyying Colours, an Australian band playing before another packed audience.

Flyying Colours at The Komedia, Brighton

Again I left before the end of the set. In none of these cases was it because I was not enjoying the music but more because I had been earmarking too many bands in this opening two and a half hours! I flew down to the Queens Hotel on the seafront for The Indien, a band from The Hague, Netherlands.

The Indien at The Queens Hotel
Realising that four or five songs was not enough to really get to know a band, and that I was going to be knackered before tea time on the first day if I did not take a break, I went to grab a potsu before zipping up to the Green Door Store for my first Canadian band, Arkells, from Ontario.

Arkells playing at The Green Door Store, Brighton for The Great Escape 2015
The slow shutter speed was accidental, but I rather like the dynamics of the result. I also liked the dynamics of the audience - band interaction...

That is an off stage shot and I really like it, so that's why you get two from this gig. I am sure she was Canadian too!

Now it was back to The Komedia, this time the Studio venue. But things were getting really busy:

Ten minutes in the rain and only two admitted, but at least I was next. Unfortunately the place was rammed and I only had time to enjoy two songs remaining from Kadebostany who look as if the one day may be representing Switzerland on Eurovision. But their music is better than that.  I managed to get this shot from the back.
Kadebostany, a band from Switzerland, at The Komedia Studio

That was it for the afternoon. There was a natural break in proceedings which gave me time to get home for a break before returning for the evening gigs at the capacious Corn Exchange. Here I had the company of my wife who wanted to see Kate Tempest so she had a separate ticket for that gig. I unfortunately had to buy the same full price ticket - I was a bit peeved that I was not able to get a 'top-up' to my wristband because this was a Great Escape event. Sadly the 'top ups' were sold out before the tickets available to the general public - I am not sure that is the way it should be.
Hollie McNish was performing on stage first
Then there was Kate Tempest reciting her poetry
Next up, George the Poet with his band
And finally Kate Tempest again, this time with her band

That was it for Thursday. After the intensity of Kate Tempest I was too knackered for anything else!

Friday was my wife's birthday. Her interest in The Great Escape did not extend to taking time of work (she couldn't anyway) so I was out on my own. But at least it was not raining, and again I started at The Prince Albert.
Orla Gartland - from Ireland
If you have not already noticed, there are a huge number of bands from around the world coming to The Great Escape to perform - the second day was carrying on in the same vein. Skipping out from the Prince Albert a whole 50 yards I was in the Green Door Store for more Canadiana.

Gabrielle Papillon, from Nova Scotia
Violet Skies at The Hub
Being from Wales, I thought it only right to catch some Welsh talent, so after Gabrielle Papillon finished I took off to the seafront, to The Hub, a venue that was new to me. I decided to put my faith in the Great Escape app on my phone to find the venue which was a mistake. I spent 10 minutes walking as directed in the wrong direction along the seafront into Hove before giving up and getting out the paper map in the handbook to walk 15 minutes in the opposite direction, eventually finding the venue seconds before the end of the gig. But at least I got some sort of photo as a souvenir.

Another new venue to me, The Paganini Ballroom was easier to find despite the handbook map placing it in the wrong street. There I enjoyed Blaue Blume, a band from Denmark, and a little of Groenland, another Canadian band, this time from Montreal.

Blaue Blume at The Paganini Ballroom, Brighton

Groenland at The Paganini Ballroom, Brighton
I liked the Paganini Ballroom. There was a bit of space and plush carpets (ballroom?) which were nice to sit on to recover between sets. Unfortunately the lighting was not as good as at other venues - that's my excuse for less than brilliant images and I'm sticking to it!

I left after a couple of numbers by Groenland because I wanted to catch The Zombies. Yes, The Zombies - Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, at a tiny pub venue, the Black Lion. These gigs were part of The Alternative Escape and unlike The Great Escape gigs which ran like clockwork, this was running behind. When I arrived, on stage were Millions who are a band who had come all the way from Brisbane, Australia. The room was crammed but between sets I was able to wriggle my way to the front for Rod and Colin.

Millions play The Alternative Escape at The Black Lion
Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, a Zombies acoustic set at The Black Lion, Brighton
I have to mention (showing my age) that the first LP I ever bought was Colin Blunstone's solo album Ennismore, so this set was pretty emotional, the 10 songs including Say You Don''t Mind, Time of The Season, I don't Believe in Miracles and of course She's Not There.

That was it for the Friday. I did not have any must-see bands lined up for the evening and it was my wife's birthday...

Like that Friday I am knackered, so I will write about Saturday separately!

(View all my Great Escape Festival 2015 photos