It could be the 1,500 kids bellowing their appreciation of Sean Paul. Maybe
the thousands packed in to watch [a]Music[/a]’s psychedelic jamboree, or
celebrating the hometown triumph of the [a]Electric Soft Parade[/a]. It could even
be the young bands having their questions answered, or their demos doctored
who know it best, but for a hectic five days, everyone knows it. Brighton, they are all agreed, [I]rocks[/I].
And what better time for it to do so. One Live – Radio One’s week-long
festival of big name performance, eccentric fringe happenings and industry
panels – arrives to find Britain’s newest city undergoing something of a
musical renaissance. [a]Electric Soft Parade[/a], [a]British Sea Power[/a], [a]Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster[/a] and [a]Clearlake[/a] are all here in person or in spirit, and as the week’s events unfold, there emerges as much as a celebration of success, a spirit of great enterprise.
Like, for one thing, how do you get started? Monday afternoon, 5pm, and at a
Q and A session in a bar by the sea, Steve Lamacq has a crowbar with which
he is prising some answers out of [a]Starsailor[/a]. It is, they say, quite straightforward – practise hard at singing ‘Slight Return’ by [a]Bluetones[/a], and the rest comes easy. Surely it can’t be that simple?
If their great success has made it easy to forget what a young band
[a]Starsailor[/a] still are, later on there’s further evidence that youth and great
proficiency need not necessarily be mutually exclusive. At The Dome, for
example, there’s a fine post-[a]Coldplay[/a] style display from Keane, who perform
piano-led emoting with the eager-to-please charm of the school captain.
Greatest to behold this evening, though, is the transformation of The
Electric Soft Parade. From a small acorn has a mighty rock band grown. Both White brothers are at the front of the stage to invigorate older songs like ‘Empty At The End’ and newer ones like ‘Bruxellisation’ with a powerful psychedelic edge.
Psychedelic? Time surely for [a]Music[/a], then, a band whose massive success
bends the mind in some pretty unorthodox directions. Songs they don’t
have. What they do have, though, is some very big guitar riffs, like ‘The
Dance’ and ‘Truth Is No Words’ which create a mesmerising kind of vibe
that’s really much more like a rave than a gig. Robert Harvey performs a
messianic kung-fu kick, entirely oblivious to it all.
Tuesday brings a [a]Tim Westwood[/a] Q and A session during which he empathises with struggling British hip-hop acts – [I]”I feel their pain, y’know?”[/I] – but more significantly, the week’s biggest star. After a decent showing by
[a]Dizzee Rascal[/a] (“Oiiiiiiii”), it’s time for Sean Paul.
The man is cool. He knows it, we know it, and what we see here is him
expertly working expertly working the crowd til he has them, all 1500
insanely up-for-it teenagers, snugly contained in the palm of his hand. The
hits? Of course Sean gives you the hits. More impressive than that, though
is that he gives them, from ‘Gimme The Light’ to his verses from Blu
Cantrell’s ‘Breathe’ and Beyonce’s ‘Baby Boy’ in about 10 minutes, before
beginning a dancehall set in earnest. It’s quite magnificent.
Not a description that often springs to mind as [a]Cooper Temple Clause[/a]
play, sadly, but hey, that’s indie, and that’s Wednesday for you. Happily,
there’s more to celebrate in the consummate crowd working of Hundred
Reasons, where Colin Doran would seem to be turning into the Chris Martin of
emotional British rock, but particularly in the shape of Funeral For A
Friend. The frenzy of songs like ‘She Drove Me To Daytime Television’ and
‘Rookie Of The Year’ you hopefully already know, but this is a group with
personality aswell. Vocalist Matt Davies exudes an unforced charm, which all
suggests an [a]Idlewild[/a]-style route to popular acclaim may be on the cards.