The Great Escape - Friday - Brighton
Brighton's Great Escape Festival has been running since 2006. The event hosts around 300 bands playing in 30 venues over 3 days.
This was my fourth year at TGE. I was unfortunately unable to attend the Thursday evening festivities but I arrived in town nice and early on the Friday to take in a fistful of bands playing The Shipwrights Yard Sessions as part of the "Alternative Escape", starting with Toronto's Doldrums, with Citizens!, Friends, We Have Band and Slow Club making up the rest of the bill.
All the bands had something to offer but I was impressed by Friends, especially due to charismatic singer Samantha Urbani's performance and Slow Club were certainly worth the wait even though the schedule was running extremely late, delivering one of the best songs of the Festival, in the shape of a new country-tinged track.
A special mention must also go to We Have Band's enigmatic Dede Wegg-Prosser as she's always interesting to watch.
We Have Band
Normally there's a bit of a gap between afternoon and evening shows but as the Yard event was running late I'd only a few minutes to wait before shooting my first act of the evening, London band Cymbals. It was only a fleeting visit, shooting the band's first three songs from The Dome's photo pit and I didn't really take in their music as I was concentrating getting to grips with a fairly awful lighting state!
The Komedia was my next port of call, popping to the Studio Bar to view Nicole Atkins's set, enjoying Flip Grater's performance while waiting. You may have imagined that I'd been watching a Midlands thrash metal band with a name like that but she's actually a New Zealand Singer / Songwriter and her songs certainly merited closer attention so I'll probably check out her While I'm Awake I'm At War album fairly soon.
This was my second Nicole Atkins gig of the week having viewed her headline show at London's Slaughtered Lamb a couple of night's earlier and it ended up being my joint favourite show of the weekend (with the four songs I caught from Haim the following night sharing the honours). Nicole's set was slightly spoiled for a few minutes by a couple of idiots who stood near the front and chatted loudly to each other but the singer stopped mid song and put them firmly in their place, causing them to slope off on the track's completion.
It was a privilege again to hear stripped down versions of tracks from Nicole's Neptune City and Mondo Amore albums and although it wasn't the busiest gig of the evening I know she left with a few new fans so hopefully it was worth her while performing. The closing two song attack of "They Way It Is" and "The Tower" certainly had the crowd roaring their approval anyway.
I didn't have far to go for my final set of the evening as I was watching Lianne La Havis in the Komedia's main venue. I was travelling back to London that night so I didn't have the opportunity to watch all of Lianne's set but I was glad I viewed what I did as I've been a fan since I caught her singing on Jools Holland's show but hadn't got round to watching her live. My time with the singer was short but sweet so I'll be keeping an eye out for a full set somewhere as we roll into Summer.
Lianne La Havas