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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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Top 100 Albums (90-81)

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Top 100 Albums (90-81)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

Everyone has their own Top 100 Albums list, but this is ours based on our love of alternative and independent music over the years. There are some albums here that you will have seen on many lists before but we’ve also opted for some obscurities with the aim of highlighting some different music for you to seek out.

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday.  Here’s the first instalment (100-91) We hope you enjoy this second instalment. Also, for  more great albums visit our  Classic Albums section

90. Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu were one of oddest punk bands to come out of the scene in late 70s America. Lead by the caterwauling vocals of Oliver Hardy lookalike David Thomas they made a noise unlike anyone else. The rhythms were tight, the guitars fierce and the songs absurd and poignant at once. They have released a dozen excellent records through a long career, but their debut is still the best of the bunch. They manage to set a standard for punk, art rock and avant-pop in one fell swoop. From the fierce yet catchy assault of ‘Non-Alignment Pact’ to the more challenging ‘Humor Me’ this is a groundbreaking and fascinating record.

89. Darren Hayman – Pramtown

Ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman is one of the UK’s best folk artists, although as he points out on his Facebook site “everybody else would say indie”. This first part in a trilogy about Essex, which topped our Albums of 2009  list, focuses on Harlow. The town provides an excellent backdrop for his  stories about love on Essex commuter trains and those living in its sterile new town estates.  The follow up Essex Arms, which focuses on the county’s rural life, is wonderful as well, but as the first in the trilogy this will always have a special place in our hearts.

88.  New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

Carl (AC) Newman is the best songwriter you’ve never heard of. With his band, the New Pornographers, he has released a string of power pop classics that have delighted the critics but evaded the public consciousness. Twin Cinema followed two brilliant albums but managed to raise the bar in terms of quality alternative guitar pop. Aided by Neko Case (who is the best guitar pop singer since Debbie Harry), Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (who contributes a downbeat counterpoint to Newman’s sweeter melodies) and an ensemble of superb musicians the quality stays high from start to finish. There isn’t a bad song on the album but the coupling of ‘We Are The Fables’ and ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’ takes some beating.

87. Howe Gelb – Sno Angel Like You

In 2006 Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb travelled to Canada, teamed up with Arcade Fire drummer  Jeremy Gara and the Voices of Praise gospel choir and made this breathtaking album. Blending gospel with Gelb’s more traditional bar room Arizona tunes was a masterstroke as Voices of Praise’s vocals drift in and out, even taking the listener by surprise at times. Great tunes, great vocals and one of the best mixes of genres in our list.

86. Thin White Rope – Sack Full Of Silver

Thin White Rope - Sack Full of Silver

How Thin White Rope didn’t end up being an alternative household name like Nick Cave or The Flaming Lips is one of the mysteries of modern music. Lead by the fierce vocals of Guy Kyser they produced a desert rock sound that fitted with the mood of Green on Red or Giant Sand, but was altogether darker and more psychedelic. Sack Full of Silver, their fourth album, was their most coherent and fully realised set of songs. The album sounds like it was recorded lost on the road in a desert, and the feeling of loss and desperation make it a challenging listen. This is tempered but a beauty to the music and a sense of hope. ‘Triangle’ is the centrepiece of the album and one of the great lost songs of the 1990s, sad, weird and beautiful all at once.

85. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion


This 2009 album catapulted Animal Collective into the big time, giving their oddball take on electronic music a whole bunch of new fans and  mainstream credibility for the first time. It is a  success  that is well deserved as tracks such as ‘My Girls’ and ‘Summertime Clothes’ emerge as wonderful alternate reality pop hits. Warm and melodic amid the bleeps and swirling loops this album is part Flaming Lips, part Beach Boys, part Ibiza club and is another example of how well genres can be merged.

84.  Super Furry Animals  – Guerilla

Super Furry Animals  - Guerilla

Super Furry Animals came along at the tail end of Britpop but their distinctly Welsh mix of psychedelia, 60s pop and dance music had little in common with their contemporaries. Guerrilla is an eclectic mix of all their influences which manages, against the odds, to sound like a cohesive album. The trio of singles, ‘Do Or Die’, ‘Fire In My Heart’ and (best of all) ‘Northern Lites’ are as good as anything that hit the charts in the late 1990s. The fact that this album has another 10 top quality songs shows how strong a record it is.

83. That Petrol Emotion Manic Pop thrill


Formed in 1984 and including former Undertones brothers Damien and John O Neil, Northern Ireland’s That Petrol Emotion were one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK alternative music scene at the time.  It took a couple of years for this their debut album to be released but it was worth the wait. Pop savvy song writing, matched with inventive guitar playing and lead singer Steve Mack’s energy made this a stunning debut. Highlights include the single ‘It’s a Good Thing’ and centrepiece track ‘Lifeblood’.

82. Beulah – When Your Heartstrings Break

Beulah - When Your Heartstrings Break

Beulah are part of Elephant 6 collective (read more about that here), but they stand apart from the other bands by demonstrating a talent for simple classic pop. The first song I heard from this their sophomore album was the brilliant ‘Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand’ and I was blown away by what I heard. A slow dreamy intro moves into fuzzy guitars, before a Dexy’s style horn section ties everything together. The rest of the album is just as good and manages to achieve the feat of sounding completely new and classic all at once.

81. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak


US punk/indie rock outfit Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have released six studio albums since 1999 but Hearts of Oak from 2003 remains  their best, most consistent album. There’s some great singles on this, such as ‘Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone’, but it’s the power and passion of Leo’s writing and vocals as well as the mix of reggae, ska, politics and punk across the  tracks that make this such a stunning listen.

by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

Top 100 (100-91)Top 100 (80-71)

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