May is possibly the busiest month for Brighton, year on year, with Brighton Fringe Festival, the first signs of summer and more importantly, The Great Escape Festival. The Great Escape champions itself as the festival for new music, and that’s exactly what it is. Arguably the only festival where in one full day you can watch a punk band play on the beach, catch chart topper James Bay play in a night club and drink booze whilst watching an acoustic set in a church. The jam packed three-day festival leaves you feeling broken come Sunday morning but it’s worth every minute.
Foals @ Concorde 2
Come Friday at 8.30pm, Concorde 2 was full to the brim and the crowd were roaring to go. Foals took to the stage opening up their hit-filled set with ‘On The Luna’, taken from their latest album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1. Every year The Great Escape honour their biggest acts as part of their Spotlight shows, and this time Foals were the main event, in celebration of the 15th anniversary of Transgressive Records. The set unsurprisingly included all the main hits like ‘Mountain At My Gates’, ‘My Number’ and ‘Inhaler’ but also included a nice variety of their early releases like ‘Olympic Airways’ and ‘Black Gold’, ensuring the entire crowd are more than satisfied. Yannis Philippakis is a front man like no other with his energy radiating through the crowd to the back of the venue. No Foals set is complete without at least one crowd invasion from the man himself, which blew the roof off the temperature gauge (if there was one). Ending on sing-along indie hit, ‘Two Steps Twice’, had the crowd begging for more after that final bang of the drum.
Lady Bird @ The Old Market
Just a stones throw away from their hometown of Tunbridge Wells, punk trio Lady Bird graced the well esteemed venue in Hove effortlessly. Signed to fellow punk pals Slaves’ label Girl Fight Records, it’s not unclear to say that they’re hugely inspired by their label hosts. Latest single ‘LOVE’ is the most pop-infused Lady Bird track to date but the song itself is about bettering yourself, encouraging open mindedness and is even more energetic and empowering live than the recorded track. The onstage banter between the band has the crowd members chuckling, and just shows the sincerity and genuine generosity the trio have for playing such a decent slot within the festival. Hit track ‘Spoons’ was adored by everyone as a sing along track, taken from their debut 2018 EP Social Potions, and wasn’t seen off without a wild mosh pit.
Friendly Fires @ Deep End Beach Site
Celebrating of 20 Years of Radio X with their X-Posure stage, Friendly Fires headlined the evening upon the famous pebbles of Brighton beach. After an introduction from Radio X’s John Kennedy, Friendly Fires opened the set with hit track ‘Lovesick’ to get the crowd moving. With eleven years worth of gigging under their belt, Friendly Fires are veterans when it comes to playing festivals like The Great Escape, and are certainly no strangers to Brighton and the music scene. Playing hit after hit is easily done with the backlog of songs Friendly Fires have stashed up their sleeves. The crowd roared as new track ‘Love Like Waves’ was followed by ‘Paris’, and then went into ‘Hawaiian Air’. Singer Ed Macfarlane, is the grooviest frontman you will ever see; cracking out the dad dancing is normal for Ed but with ease he makes it look so enticing. Despite their shorter than planned set, the band closed the night with ‘Kiss Of Life’ from their debut album, and not a single person in the crowd was left silent for the duration of the four minute indie dance hit.
Talk Show @ Deep End Beach Site
South London based four-piece Talk Show took to the beach stage with angst and force. The band are signed to Yala! Records, launched by Felix White of The Maccabees, alongside The Magic Gang and rising stars FEET. With only two songs to their name, Talk Show still manage to pack a punch with their energetic and gripping set. Debut single ‘Fast and Loud’ does justice to the title, a stimulating short song providing the crowd with a reason to go wild. Star of the show is frontman Harrison Swann who graced the Beach stage with charisma, charm and passion.
The Amazons @ Coalition
Ahead of their newest album release saw the Reading based rockers take to the grotty stage located under the arches on the seafront. An underground venue which trapped in the heat was ideal for The Amazons as the venue was full to the brim. With a short, yet packing set, the whole evening was hosted by Fiction Records who were celebrating their 40th Anniversary. The band played Brighton many times in their career and the long-term fans were easily spotted in and amongst the crowd. The set was an even split of new and old tracks including ‘Mother’ the first single released from the new album, Future Dust. Obviously the older songs included the well loved tracks ‘In My Mind’, ‘Junk Food Forever’ and set closer ‘Black Magic’ that had every person in the venue singing along to the guitar driven anthems.
With an impressive line up and acts playing in every venue of Brighton over the weekend it’s hard to catch everyone you want to see but some other notable acts of 2019 were:
- Lewis Capaldi took to the stage at The Dome for the second Spotlight show hosted by TGE and performed his popular ballads, gracing the crowd with his hilarious witty sense of humour
- James Bay’s secret set in Coalition, only the lucky ones managed to wrangle their way inside the venue
- Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes graced The Old Market in Hove with their raucous punk rock songs
- Californian pop singer-songwriter Conan Gray played the tiny room at Komedia
- After a sell out show at Patterns on their tour earlier this year Sports Team took to the stage at The Haunt to perform their punchy guitar driven set