Harvest Festival 2006 @ The Hope, Brighton
The second of these (hopefully to long continue) annual all-dayers with proceeds to a local homeless charity and the Magic Train medical project in India. Seven bands, two tracks from each on a free cdr given on admission to each punter; all each patron had to do was bring some item (such as a tin of food) to add to the harvest collection at the front of the stage. The venue is a small intimate upstairs bar that's situated above a rather glamorous looking watering hole downstairs.
Last year's event concluded with Good Morning Captain's last ever set, now the remnants of that group kick-off this year's proceedings. -A+M they're called, two blokes with acoustic guitars. They aren't happy with the stage set-up and grab a couple of stools and plonk them down amongst the early arrivals and play, and they play beautifully. Intricately woven instrumentals are their thing, and they do their thing wonderfully well. A good start to today's programme.
More people arrive, they're lucky - they're in time to catch the incomparable Birdengine. This year he's decided to play solo, just him and acoustic guitar and that highly individual vocal style of his. His songs are brilliant too, with ever changing dynamics and construction; just when you think you know what he's doing, he's off in another direction. He can play that guitar alright, and sings in a singularly plaintive manner - this chap's a real talent.
The Fabulous Nobody enters the fray, portly with a panama hat on - looking like a cricket umpire who's turned up in the wrong place by mistake. He croons love songs and picks at an electric guitar, fumbling in his pocket for a crumpled piece of paper after each tune which he scrutinises intently before starting the next one. A set list? The whispered rumour is that on that little piece of paper is written the instruction - "play the next song".
A bit of bill-juggling's been going on and Pocketbooks are on earlier than planned, they're good sports and don't mind at all. They give us a slightly chaotic set as various gremlins make their presence felt, a chaotic but quite wonderful set for all that. Slightly unusual in employing two keyboardists/vocalists along with the standard guitar/bass/drums triumvirate, they've got themselves some good tunes and give us hugely enjoyable indie-pop in generous dollops. They're fun.
I've been hearing lots of nice things about Shoreline, and now here they are. Quite a collection of instruments; strings, woodwind, banjo but no kitchen sink that I can see. I lose count of how many people are playing as we're borne up into the air upon waves of sound, it's like being struck by the most delicate of tornados that pick you up and put you back down gently afterwards as it winds it's path onwards leaving you behind. The most feather-light of musical soufflés created by a team of talented chefs.
Nobody really knows how many people are in the full Stars of Aviation line-up, they've never all been gathered at the same place at the same time. Apparently if this ever were to happen the fabric of the universe would collapse. There's still an awful lot of them wielding an impressive array of instruments which they like to swap regularly, despite this they're quite a tight outfit. They charm the crowd with their melodic chamber pop and their set isn't nearly long enough, always a sign of quality.
Another mark of quality is when a crowd starts bopping along to a band they've never heard before, this is a trick that The Poppycocks pull off with some aplomb. Classic guitar band pop/rock is what you get from this lot along with good tunes delivered with bags of style. They work the crowd into a right old sweat and although it's been a long day your aged reviewer put his zimmer frame aside to gambol about like a spring lamb as the show was drawn to a close.
I travelled a long way to be at this show, and you know what? It was worth it. Every band/act was worth the journey, it's not often that you can say that. (Laurence)
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