This Feeling

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Great Escape 2017 :: Day Three





Live Review

The Great Escape, Brighton (Day 3)

Thursday May 18 - Saturday May 20 2017

Various venues

Reporting team: Neil Cole, Linn Branson, Ellie Ward, Leah Raymond, Steve Willcox

Day three of The Great Escape with a few clouds in the sky which soon gives way to a breezy, sun-rippled day of just the right temperature for pounding the streets of Brighton from venue to venue.

Tom Mouse Smith
Credit: Linn Branson

One of the loveliest of early performances comes from 13-year-old Tom Mouse Smith. He may be several years off being able to order a pint in the Prince Albert, but that was not to stop him playing an engaging set that acoustic musicians twice his age could hardly better. Already a seasoned professional (supporting James Bay and Catfish and the Bottlemen, playing Kendal Calling, Glastonbury's Fluffy Rock Cafe to name a few), the fact that he lives with the life limiting Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (a condition where he has only half a working heart) has not prevented him doing what he so obviously loves - singing and playing an acoustic guitar - and he documents it poignantly in the song 'I've Got Scars'. He has the crowd engagement sorted too, introducing one song by saying, in his Durham accent, that people often ask him who the 'Alison' is in the song, "but it's not 'Alison', it's 'I'll Listen'" - so ensuring everyone of course did do just that, listen. He also introduces young sister Hannah, all of 11, to provide some charming harmonies.

Happy Accidents
Credit: Neil Cole

London via Southampton three-piece Happy Accidents at the Brighthelm Centre admit it is the biggest venue they have ever played, but it didn't seem to faze them and they played a lively set of summery pop tunes. The sound could have been better, with drummer Phoebe Cross struggling to get her vocals across, but frontman Neil Mandell seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself and the crowd left happy.

The Green Door Store hosted an eclectic showcase of new Canadian talent in the afternoon, with a huge variety of artists playing short and snappy 20-minute sets. Bad Pop play a brash and confident set, and you get the feeling they would have been happy to fill three hours rather than the 20 minutes they were given. Frontman Chris Connelly had a great time, but the real star of the show was Catherine Hiltz, who managed to be an exceptional bass guitarist and an accomplished trumpeter... at the same time!

Bad Pop
Credit: Neil Cole

They are followed at the same venue by the mean and moody atmospheric rock of The Avulsions. It's a look and feel that has been done before (The Horrors, Savages) and sadly the music wasn't powerful enough to really engage the crowd.

The Avulsions
Credit: Neil Cole

The showcase then took a change of direction as Hello Moth came on stage. Armed with just a synthesizer and an impressive vocal range, he performed a mixture of looped-electro and a cappella songs, including a powerful and unusual rendition of 'Rivers of Babylon'.

The Rhythm Method
Credit: Steve Willcox

The Rhythm Method at Komedia deliver a post-lunch set of comical rap lyrics in the style of Mike Skinner, with catchy keyboard tunes that get better as they went along, as evidenced by the approving reception they received. Meanwhile, next door in the Komedia Studio, the lengthy queues alone for Flamingods signalled word had got out about the London-based, Bahrain-formed, five-piece and their psychedelic-infused sound that melds eastern and African influences. The packed like sardines crowd are not leaving until the very end of this impressive set, even if they could move.

Weirds
Credit: Linn Branson

Meanwhile, back at the Brighthelm Centre, Weirds were alternately being brilliant and suffering drum disasters. First catching Little Indie's attention back in 2014 - when vocalist Aidan Razzall described their sound to us as "sludgy, aggressive rock for thugs" - the triumvirate of swishing hair set about going in for the kill right from the off in fast and furious fashion. So much so, that the end of the first song ends with a drum break - literally - with sticks man Neil (the only member to have no hair to whip) calling for audience help. With hardly a halt to proceedings, a replacement was quickly obtained and they continued to rage through a set that was transfixing in its spilling out riff upon riff at breakneck speed.

Youngblood
Credit: Neil Cole

Young Canadian Youngblood swelled the crowd numbers at the Green Door Store to bursting point for his mid afternoon set. This was a hugely impressive set from such a new band and singer Alexis Young looks like a star already. The band have a unique sound, with powerful guitars beautifully complemented by Young's vocals.

Curiously at the same time another similarly named artist was taking to the stage at the East Street Tap. This YungBlud, aka 19-year-old Yorkshireman Dominic Harrison, who writes punchy, passionate lyrics about his generation, and delivers them wrapped in a combination of beats, rap, rock, reggae and punk, plays an ebullient rockin' set that packs the small pub to the rafters, with dozens more craning necks to see over heads from outside the door.

YungBlud
Credit: Linn Branson

Back at The Green Door Store, The Canada House showcase continued on a heavier note as Royal Tusk played a 20-minute set that was reminiscent of both Queens Of The Stone Age and Soundgarden in places. Highlight was 'Curse The Weather' with it's catchy hooks on top of brooding guitars.

Royal Tusk
Credit: Neil Cole

Local duo SONS at the Queens Hotel bring in a massive crowd to hear their two-man (brothers Nick and Lee Meldrum) massive sound outpouring of ferocious guitar'n'drums. There's even a mosh pit going on, with one punter being carried aloft over heads in horizontal position. It's a hot, fast and rock heavy set which only disappointed when an expectant crowd hoping for an encore had to leave satisfied with what they'd had.

SONS
Credit: Linn Branson

We caught Coronation Street bad guy, actor Ian Kelsey, hanging around the Black Lion, and if he wasn't checking out Bang Bang Romeo - he darned well should have been. Anastasia Walker has a powerful pair of lungs on her, and witnessing her performance here, you can imagine that had the mic failed she would still have been heard at the end of Brighton Pier. New single 'Chemical' indicates that the soul-'n'-dirty-rock-'n'-roll outfit are en route to next year being headline acts.

Bang Bang Romeo
Credit: Ellie Ward

Trampolene brought a lengthy queue for their early evening show at the Hope & Ruin, as was to be expected for this Welsh alt-rock trio fronted by the people's champion and all-round-nice-guy Jack Jones, who mix rock with poetry, which at times is scorching and at others, such as with 'Beautiful Pain', is too good for words. Newcastle's EAT FAST moved up from playing last year's Alternative Escape to laud it at Sticky Mike's on this year's main programme, where they drive home their scuzzy garage-psych sound layered in reverb at ear-shredding decibel level.

Black Peaches
Credit: Neil Cole

Usually reserved for smaller bands not on the main bill, Black Peaches at Cafe Plenty as part of the Alternative Escape was something of a coup as the band have been together a couple of years ago and have played much bigger shows including Glastonbury last year. The band have one of the best guitarists you will see in Rob Smoughton (Hot Chip, Scritti Politti) and they used the set to play some superb alternative versions of songs from their debut album 'Get Down You Dirty Rascals' during their 50-minute set.

Our Girl at Sticky Mike's proved another top draw with lengthy queues awaiting the Brighton garage-rock trio. For their second show of the day they didn't seem to be wilting any as they ran through their set of cracking riffs and gritty, scuzz melodies.

INHEAVEN
Credit: Neil Cole

Later in the evening, South London four-piece INHEAVEN -who were one of the highlights of the 2016 Great Escape - took their place in the larger setting of Wagner Hall where they played a full set. This is a band who have really evolved over the last 12 months; the guitars are heavier and sound almost like Nirvana in places, while bassist Chloe Little has been given a bigger vocal role. Recent single 'Treats' was a set highlight, as were early singles 'Bitter Town' and 'Regeneration'.

Over at the Brighton Dome, Brit Award winner Rag'N'Bone Man is ready for his first major homecoming gig. He starts the set with 'Wolves', and even this early on he's already blowing the crowds away with his band's heavy bass guitar riffs, keyboards and that low, deep voice that resonates around this Georgian hall. 'Guilty' is followed by 'Human', and as the lights turn to red, he performs it with just his keyboardist for company. With the crowd going wild at its close, it was possibly even outdone by encore 'Bitter Rain', sung with true feeling.

Rag'N'Bone Man
Credit: Steve Willcox

Always popular, The Big Moon girls pitched up at the end of the pier at Horatio's late into the evening this year to celebrate their 'Love In The 4th Dimension' debut album and share some - a large proportion, in fact - of its indie pop contents. And later, for those still not wanting to quite escape from the Escape hurry yet, LA rockers Froth played in Sticky Mike's (by now, the 'sticky' part was well and truly apt) in the early hours of Sunday morning. With pulsating rhythms that are part psych, part experimental, part shoegaze, their sound is hypnotic and intense; the melodies of the likes of 'Sensitive Girl' and 'Petals' riveting.

Over 450 artists and three days of fun, entertainment, rain and sun, and the joy of new musical discovery. Once again The Great Escape delivered. See you all next year.


Previous:

The Great Escape 2017 :: Day One

The Great Escape 2017 :: Day Two

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