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Together the People (Preston Park, Brighton, 5th and 6th September 2015)

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Together the People (Preston Park, Brighton, 5th and 6th September 2015)

Posted on 15 September 2015 by Nic Newman

The long awaited return of Brighton to the urban music festival scene finally came to an end with the inaugural offering from Together The People, a two-day event hosted in Brighton’s Preston and Park. Our intrepid reporters selflessly left their home and crossed one busy road to bring you all the highlights they could squeeze into an acceptable length article.

Preston Park is no stranger to public and private events, having already presented Brighton Pride and a Thai Food Festival in the weeks previous to Together The People, but we were initially taken aback by the modest size of the festival vs the ticket price. Still, mighty oaks and all that.

Access and entry was well organised and by the time we were through the slightly superfluous crowd chicane, the sunny space was laid out before us down the gently sloping grass and we were quickly able to get to grips with the music stages and tents TTP had to offer.

First up, and with a £5 pint of beer in hand, we headed to the small acoustic tent (more of a gazebo) to catch the acoustic guitar wizardry of Jye Whitman. Armed with a ton of skill and a beanie, Jye Whitman served up refreshing a portion of up-tempo acoustic tunes and songs that made a nice change from the usual earnest (and slightly dreary) output from the usual acoustic stage.

Jye Whitman

Jye Whitman

Cheered along by this, and with a cup of tea and slice of cake, we headed to watch the end of Lucy-Spraggen-off-the-X-Factors set, chock-a-block with attempted audience participation numbers and wait for Ghostpoet to take the main stage.

Lucy Spraggen

Lucy Spraggen

With three albums under his belt, Ghostpoet has come a long way from his self-produced days and has collected a tight and professional band along the way to back him up and provide a foundation to build his melancholy stories of modern living. Opening with tracks from his new album Shedding Skin, the skies briefly darkened to accompany the musical the atmosphere while Ghostpoet closed his set with the very excellent single, Liiines.

Ghostpoet

Ghostpoet

As the afternoon moved along and grass was flattened by picnic blankets and arses we looked forward to the arrival of everyone’s favourite Bolshevik balladeer, Mr. Billy Bragg, and what urban music festival would be complete without him? But it’s not the reliable renditions of old favourites like New England and Sexuality that really impresses us about Billy Bragg, but his unrelenting political optimism and faith in his fellow man.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

Maybe it’s this dedication to an uncynical attitude that makes the arrival of old Brighton favourites, The Levellers, on the stage less cheesy than it might have been to the jaded music fan. The sun was shining, the jigs were up-tempo and the delivery was as enthusiastic as it ever was. To not bop a bit was not an option.

The Levellers

The Levellers

Before the main event of the day came around we were able to catch the lion’s share of local super group, Brakes, thanks to a day of well-planned and well-maintained schedules. Formed by members of other local talents like British Sea Power and the Electric Soft Parade, Brakes fired out a volley of frenetic and deranged power-pop tunes like Porcupine or Pineapple? and All Night Disco Party to their core of loyal fans, and still managed to line up room for their more accessible country-leaning songs. These reviewers were particularly thrilled to hear Brakes cover of Camper Van Beethoven’s 1986 cult classic, Shut Us Down.

Brakes

Brakes

To bring day one to a close, festival favourites and Cardiff’s finest Super Furry Animals take the stage with an unassuming modesty during the intro to Slow Life that quickly leaves the audience with the peculiar certainty that this stage was built for this very moment. Resembling a Power Ranger taking a break from his decorating, Gruff Rhys and the gang segue through a list of greatest hits that include (Drawing) Rings Around the World, Do or Die and Hello Sunshine. Despite a slightly stodgy middle, Super Furry Animals baked a crowd pleasing song pie of well crafted furry hits and a crust of Juxtaposed With U and Golden Retriever that they eventually served to the audience on an extended platter of The Man Don’t Give a Fuck to make their playout ending and encore that would have to scores of mop-haired children who’d been running around the bottom half of the audience something to sing to their parents on the way home.

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals

Day two arrived hot on the heels of day one and provided a clearer and sunnier early September day than before, the perfect festival weather that seemed to have failed to coax in the disappointing number of Sunday attendees.

Regardless of the low turnout, we headed off to the smaller BIMM stage to catch space over-filling enthusiasm Astrid’s Tea Party who belted out their three piece songs despite (or possibly because of) the audience-lite reception.

Big Dada signed Roots Manuva laid out his blend of hip hop dub across the main stage audience like warm blanket of summertime goodness and everything was right and good in the world – a sentiment echoed from the acoustic stage across the other side of the park by Tiago’s nostalgia-tinged songs and stories of growing up in Portugal.

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva

The first surprise of day two came from another local Brighton talent who have been making a reputation on Soundcloud, Kudu Blue on the second stage. This was our first experience of the band, and their slick and soulful post-triphop proved to be a real delight to behold. Kudu Blue combine beautiful ambient layers of guitar textures and synth loops across a foundation of deep bass and crisp syncopated rhythms, polished off with a smooth, natural vocal that glues them all together. Take a moment to check out the video for their song Bones  and hear for yourself.

Kuda Blue

Kuda Blue

Things only get better when Public Service Broadcasting and a homemade sputnik take control of the main stage and spread instrumental joy and delight throughout the crowd. I’m not sure why anyone would want to, but it’s hard not to like them and their happiness and pleasure in what they do is infectious. Tracks like Theme From PSB, Spitfire, Go! and trumpet-tastic Gregarin provide the party vibe that any audience hungrily eats up like a festival burrito. We hope that TTP carries on in the future and are able to do something about the noise bleed between stages; some of PSB’s atmospheric moments were drowned out by nearby stages. However PSB provided one of the best performances of the weekend and could (even should) have headlined day two.

Public Service Broadcasting

Public Service Broadcasting

It seems fitting that such a new event might want an established act to lend it some history, and there aren’t many acts about today with the history of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas who graced the stage with the kind of authority you get after six decades of performing.

Martha Reeves

Martha Reeves

We couldn’t shake the feeling however that after Public Service Broadcasting, the party was already winding down, a sentiment shared by Luke Sital-Singh as he closed the second day on the second stage with stark and intimate versions of songs like Still from his new EP The Brakeneck Speed of Tomorrow and Nothing Stays the Same from The Fire Inside that sound like music for a Monday morning. “Depressedon Park…” he quips. Highly recommend catching Sital-Singh live, his connection to his audience through raw vocal performance and warm banter, definitely won over the last of the weekends revellers.

Luke Sital-Singh

Luke Sital-Singh

Finally the two day festival is brought to a close by Swedish singer songwriter superstar Jose Gonzalez as the September air chills the now straggling audience. Included in his set were some of his well-loved cover versions including Kylie Minogue’s Hand on Your Heart alongside material from his new album Vestiges and Claws as well as the odd Junip track thrown in for good measure, but it somehow didn’t quite cut the proverbial mustard. We are fans of all things Jose Gonzalez and Junip, but we can’t help feeling that this was the wrong choice to end the day. The beauty and intimacy of Gonzalez’s songs were simply lost in this setting and we headed home feeling chilly and serious.

Jose Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez

Hats off to the organisers for producing such a well-managed event with a rich and varied line-up and opportunities to showcase so much up and coming talents. Together The People champions local arts, small business and community issues. We hope this festival has the opportunity to grow in size and offerings, whilst keeping costs accessible to a wider audience. If it does, we’ll definitely be back for more burritos and beats.

TTP end

By Lisa McDonnell & Nic Newman

See more of Nic’s pictures from the festival on our Flickr page.

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Preview – Together The People

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Preview – Together The People

Posted on 06 August 2015 by Dorian

One thing that Brighton has been missing for some time is a decent outdoor pop music festival. The Shakedown festival has always had a bit of an identity crisis about whether it was a dance festival or not, and featured some really loathsome headline acts (Razorlight anyone?). The Great Escape is a brilliant thing, but multi-venue festivals with largely little-known acts aren’t for everyone.

You have to go back to 2008 for the folly that was the Beachdown Festival and even further back to 2000 for the Essential festival , which also had a bit of a checkered history.

So it was great news when Together The People was announced earlier this year, and even better news when the festival line-up was announced.

Together The People

Set in Preston Park the festival is a modest two-day affair that seems to be putting quality over quantity whilst offering up a really diverse set of acts.

Headliners Super Furry Animals and Jose Gonzalez are ably supported by this year’s must-have festival act Public Service Broadcasting with festival stalwart Billy Bragg and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas offering up some more mature sounds.

Local music also gets stage time with Brighton’s best known band, The Levellers, and Brighton’s best band, Brakes, both featuring on the bill.

The festival also offers up folk, spoken-word, art installations, street food and local beer across the site, all of which adds up to decent value for the £70 weekend ticket.

The festival is on September 5th and 6th, more information (including ticket outlets) can be found at http://www.togetherthepeople.co.uk

By Dorian Rogers

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Brakes – Concorde 2, Brighton (June 17, 2015)

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Brakes – Concorde 2, Brighton (June 17, 2015)

Posted on 24 June 2015 by Dorian

Brakes (or BrakesBrakesBrakes to their US based fans) are the best band to have come out of Brighton. Better than related acts British Sea Power and Electric Soft Parade and better than The Levellers (despite them holding the surprising record for the largest ever crowd at the Glastonbury Pyramid stage). They released three excellent albums and played many excellent live shows before seemingly disbanding around 5 years ago.

So, it was very welcome news when they announced a home-town gig in celebration of the anniversary of their first album Give Blood. This news was followed with a handful of festival dates, but it was no surprise that the Concorde 2 gig was a capacity event.

Rose Dougall

First up on stage was former Pipette, Rose Dougall, an artist that I had no knowledge of outside of her former band. Live on stage it was a very pleasant surprise as she carried us through a set of 80s tinged pop numbers and demonstrated some impressive vocal prowess. The immediate comparison point that sprang to my mind was Brighton act Fear of Men, in the sound of the singing if the not the song-writing. It was another pleasant surprise to see her accompanied on stage by Gare Du Nord stalwart Ralegh Long, stepping out from behind his keyboard to prove to a very able guitarist.

Brakes

It was still bright outside when Brakes took to the stage, this being a mid-Summer gig and also an early show, but the venue was packed to the gunwales with a very partisan crowd. The band launched in to ‘The Most Fun’, which is both one of their most “Brakesish” songs but also a pretty good review of the gig to come.

The band knew that their time on stage was limited and they were in no mood to hang around, a plan to play 30 songs in the set added a degree of urgency to proceedings. The fact that so many songs in their arsenal are two minutes (or much less) in length certainly made this more achievable.

Hearing them throw out songs from across their three albums showed what a consistently inventive, fun and exciting band they were. Too odd to become household names but playing such a range of songs that they would have something to appeal to almost anyone. Be that the (near hit) of ‘All Night Disco Party’ or the well crafted rock out ‘Take Me To The River’, songs that are just too good to ignore.

The bands taste in cover versions is also pretty faultless with the Johnny Cash/June Carter single ‘Jackson’ fitting perfectly in a set along with the Camper Van Beethoven track ‘Shut Us Down’. This is a band just as comfortable playing country, folk, punk, rock or indie-pop across their albums and live shows. Brakes certainly sound like a lot of other bands tonight, but it is telling that no other band around sounds anything like Brakes.

The band have a very solid rhythm section, with bassist Marc Beatty and drummer Alex White coping well with a wide range of styles and pace changes. Singer Eamon, back in town having played with British Sea Power the previous week, is a real one off. His vocal style is unusual and his song-writing even more so, but he does things so well that his disappearance from the music scene is a real shame. However, the star of the show for me is guitarist Thomas White. I have not been fully convinced by his solo records but his skill with an axe is unquestionable, every style played brilliantly and (despite some amp malfunctions) barely a duff note all evening.

I don’t know what the future holds for the band, or if they have any future as a unit at all. Perhaps  a succinct and exciting set of albums is the best place for them to leave it and not attempt any further recordings. What I do know is that on this form they are about the best live act in town, catch them at one of their festival shows if you can.

By Dorian Rogers

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Thomas White- Yalla!

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Thomas White- Yalla!

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Joe

As a member of Electric Soft Parade and Brakes, and BFFs with British Sea Power , Thomas White is firmly rooted in the school of proper indie so beloved of Gideon Coe listening, ‘down with this sort of thing’ campaigning 30 plus men. Us basically.

Admit it; we don’t get Skins, haven’t listened to Radio 1 since Mark and Lard left, find Reading Festival too stressful nowadays and if it’s not Stewart Lee then it’s just not funny.

Thomas White is one of us. Ok, he’s only a wee bairn, lording it up in his 20s, but he’s got the pedigree, talent and, with his previous album The Maximalist, the ability to craft a rip-roaring masterpiece: The Last Blast was Rocket From The Crypt jamming with Cud, it had Synapse Galaxy’s
space funk, and the Freidman-esque Starry Night #4.

So what the hell has he done with his third album, or more appropriately demo tape, Yalla!? Well he’s gone to the desert, Dahab in South Sinai to be precise, with an acoustic guitar and a heavy heart.

Yalla! addresses the limbo at the end of a relationship, and moving to a new country… in song form! It’s his very own sixth-form poetry.

If we were at the end of a relationship we would be drinking whiskey while crying in our pants and listening to Nick Drake, as you’re meant to. Or you know, at least going to see the sights, if only to find a whiskey bar. But as I said, he’s a wee bairn, and obviously hasn’t read the Jim Morrison book of how to do the desert in style.

Instead White’s peddled out 10 tracks of maudlin acoustic strumming and damp vocals about the sea and the sky, which barely rise above passive. The Heavy Sunshine Sound pricks the ears with its breezy Teenage Fanclub melody, but the rest reeks of open mic.

The songs are, well, written. And Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls has a psychedelic feel, at least it would if it was finished and didn’t fade out just as interest was stirring.

The underlying problem with Yalla! is the lack of quality control. It needs guidance from his more than capable friends back in Brighton. Waving some twigs with British Sea Power for a while may even snap him out of his gloom.

Yalla! is a collection of rough ideas, which should either develop in to actual songs, or be left for a deluxe edition re-release to pad out some extra sales when a career’s in decline. Not as a full album when a career doesn’t yet have a peak to descend from.

3/10

by David Newbury

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Brakes – Touchdown

Posted on 17 September 2010 by Joe

After two albums with Rough Trade, Brakes are back with a new label, Fat Cat, and a set of songs that are as good a case for a breakthrough album as you will hear all year.

Continuing their “blend of punk, folk and country,” as their website states, all delivered though the distinctive soft and croaky vocals of Eamon Hamilton, Brakes from Brighton, UK, has delivered another tight package of indie power-pop tracks that is solid throughout.

More reminiscent of US bands such as Built to Spill than the British bands their members are associated with, including British Sea Power, Touchdown opener ‘Two Shocks’ and ‘Don’t Take Me To Space Man’ show just how much eccentric wordplay is crucial to the Brakes experience. “Don’t take me to space, man, sings Hamilton on the latter, adding, ” I don’t care if the world’s masonic, I’ve got a true love keeping me on it.”

Out of the 12 tracks ten are on similar power-pop lines as ‘Two Shocks’, with only the frenetic ‘Red Rag’ and the acoustic ‘Leaving England’ offering something different.  This is a positive though rather than a criticism. Consistency is a rare gem in most albums and the ability to be able to sit through 35 minutes of this quality, with the bonus of a couple of different sounding tracks to break up the pace, is something to be applauded.

Will Touchdown actually turn out to be Brakes’s breakthrough album? Probably not in the UK at least. Despite their ability to write solid, catchy pop they are still considered niche and eccentric in their own country. This is a massive shame but there is hope, perhaps in the US, where their 2006 track ‘All Night Disco Party’ featured on TV show Ugly Betty. While they attract critical praise in the UK, it could be across the Atlantic where their Built to Spill – style sound, may garner commercial success as well.

9/10

by Joe Lepper, May 2009

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