Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Great Escape @ Various Venues, Brighton: Day 2

15 May 2008

Saul Williams takes it, a headdress of feathers scraping the low ceiling as a torrent of bass rearranges vital organs.

A spoken-word namecheck of revolutionary figures starts his set, a litany that would be dull from any other source rendered essential from his, invested with a gravitas and power that sears away any indifference, commanding attention. If Saul Williams were a preacher there would be no atheists – just an army of sycophants and acolytes assembled at his feet, swaying in the wind.

It’s a short but potent performance, stabbing beats wrapped in distorted synths, Saul’s verse half-sung, half-spat as he scales amplifiers and paces the stage, energy rippling out and coarsing through the throng like a nuclear wave. List of Demands closes, leaving us with one of own: come back soon.

Next we head to the Seafront and cock an ear to the final song by what we think is Johnny Foreigner coming from the side of Coalition. We are very, very pleasantly surprised by what we hear. But onwards – to Wild Beasts. These new Domino signings sound like Antony And The Johnsons wailing over some sub Arctic Monkeys ditties. Absolutely dire. After three songs we consider what it would be like to insert the singer/guitarist’s hands into one of those machines they have in Iran to amputate the digits of thieves. We’d really do it too. Avoid this band like the plague.

Next door to Coalition for The Teenagers, who have a new drummer (who’s two days in) tonight. He does sterling work too. Hated by a lot of people; we actually don’t mind their languid rhyming over Strokes-type fey indie. But we’re Francophiles. Certainly not to all tastes.

Next door again to Digital for Crystal Castles. So much has been said about this band lately, we won’t bore you with it all again. Suffice to say they are one of the most visceral live propositions you will get to see this summer. The sound is immense tonight and it really feels like being part of something.

Our evening is rounded off with a rather lengthy stroll up to The Barfly, where after much cajoling, MusicOMH manages to wangle its way into Friendly Fires. Queues are not making the evening run to plan but we get to the see the St Albans foursome run through their excellent bunch of funked-up songs. Just. A theme for the evening seems to be that the bands we rate appear to suffer from not getting much love off the audience. Same here. Maybe that’s the amount of industry types in town. We try to get into the Hope for Gloria Cycles afterwards, but no siree. They’re full. Queues are rubbish. Bedtime.


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