The Great Escape 2011 - Day One - A Review In Pictures - Brighton

Brighton's Great Escape is Europe's leading festival for new music with over 300 bands playing at 30 venues over a three day period.

I started my 2011 jaunt at The Hope venue. It was only 1.30 in the afternoon and I was already facing a "one in, one out" policy on the door. I waited about fifteen minutes, eventually gaining admission, working my way through a packed crowd at the back only to find a huge amount of space down the front! French trio Gable were already firing on all cylinders, with one of its members banging a drum in the middle of the audience! The group were a real revelation as although they travelled down a bit of an "experimental" route they had a lot of tuneful material and were extremely entertaining, with an array of props to add to the fun.

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I had actually popped along to The Hope to view a set from Swedish songstress Fredrika Stahl as I'd stumbled over her name on the Escape's website the day before and had enjoyed the tracks I'd managed to hear online. I believe Fredrika started off with more off a jazz vibe but her latest album Sweep Me Away is quite a pop affair and very listenable.

Fredrika seemed to be having a bit of a shocker before proceedings commenced as the keyboard she was performing with was kaput! Numerous people stood round it trying to get it to work, bringing to mind a group crowded around a car's smoking engine but nothing could be done. Luckily the singer decided to wing the set, saying that sometimes gigs are better when there's problems, so I still got to hear exquisite renditions of the amusing "What If" and the Summery "In my Head", two standouts from her current release.

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I stayed at the venue after Fredrika's had finished, taking in a set from Chapelier Fou. Although the French violinist's music wasn't really my thing it was still a decent half hour or so as the musician looped quite a lot of tracks, making it an interesting experience watching him put the songs together.

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It was around four at this point and there wasn't much on until seven so it was time for the cinema and food, kicking the evening's proceeding's off with a show from Lara Runars at The Haunt. The striking Swedish singer's set was pretty decent take on pop with a harder edge, at least live anyway and had me wanting to see her again. I know she's playing London soon but I hate the venue, so next time round Lara!

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The only thing that marred Lara's set was the venue's deplorable use of copious amounts of smoke from their smoke machine every few minutes, making me feel like I was at a Fields Of The Nephilim show and it didn't let up for the next act - Brazil's Marina Gasolina! Marina used to be party of rowdy rap trio Bonde Do Role but left in 2007. I'd seen Bonde play on a few occasions and their shows were always chaotic affairs and a real blast.

I'm not sure how long Marina has been performing with her current band but she's picked a good direction as ballsy rock and roll really suits her! One thing that hadn't changed was Marina's undeniable stage presence as she's still a full on performer, thrashing about the stage, taking numerous trips into the audience and booting lights about, leading to a fairly memorable set!

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I finished my evening taking in three sets at Horatio's. The venue is on Brighton's pier but I didn't realise it was at the end of it till I finally got there! As well as covering events for TMF I also shoot for a picture agency and they had requested a few shots of US duo Cults. I wasn't sure how busy the venue was going to be so just decided to head along early so I could relax for a bit.

The History Of Apple Pie were playing when I got there and I managed to snap a couple of songs before they ended. I didn't really take in much of what they were playing but they seemed okay with quite full on guitars.

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Oxford five piece Fixers were up next. The band were playing shrouded in a black and white swirling light effect that was hopeless for pictures so all the photographers used flash losing the effect completely and making for dull images as the band were stuck behind keyboards! It wasn't worth shooting more than a couple of songs so I retired to the bar for my first drink of the day!

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As I was travelling between London and Brighton each day I only had time to take in a couple of songs from headliners Cults, enjoying what I caught before legging it back to the station, home to London!

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