There was electricity in the air as we arrived early to The Hope & Ruin to be confronted by a small queue snaking around the staircase from the makeshift box-office on the landing, where Thomas White was sat checking tickets. It seemed like this was a night of reunion for many of the fans in attendance as much as it was, certainly in home-coming terms, for the two bands on the bill. There have been lots of rumblings from The Electric Soft Parade camp in 2018, a successfully backed Pledge Music campaign to fund the recording of their fifth studio album, recent shows supporting fellow indie darlings of the early 00s Ultrasound, and even a charity showcase at Portslade’s little known Circle Arts Centre last May. However, there’s nothing quite like coming home and filling one of the venues of your youth for a band like ESP, who’ve been active on our Brighton stages in one form or another since they were teenagers at the arse end of the 90s.
On Saturday night, Brighton-based art-rock band Perch took to The Hope & Ruin to promote their new album, No Step, which was released the same day. The nine-track album follows 2016’s Umbra and consists of tracks the band have been playing live for a while now, with the album itself having a live atmosphere feel to it.
When it was announced that legendary Brighton venue Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar would be closing at the end of last year it sent shockwaves through the Brighton music scene. Firstly a sense of grief, due to lost jobs and the beautiful memories created there and, secondly, because if an independent venue can’t exist in Brighton – a liberal, music-loving city with independence running through its veins – then where can it? Thank goodness, then, for Green Door Store; a venue that has reached its eighth year by doing everything right. Showcasing excellent underground bands, as well as some of the most hotly-tipped in the world, as well as giving brilliant Brighton bands a leg up.
One of Brighton’s favourite four-pieces Bloom had quite an unconventional beginning. Essentially the offspring of a previous band of theirs (The Beautiful Word) due to a radical change in their music style, transitioning from folk-inspired music to a far more ambient style of indie-pop. Since then, they’ve released an impressive debut album titled What Is Life, which successfully showed a much more refined approach to their sound that was promised with their re-branding.
The return of Slowdive back in 2014 was as surprising as it was triumphant. Surprising due to the waning popularity of the band – and the entire shoegaze genre – the Reading quintet have relished their return to the forefront of the now burgeoning genre. With their fourth, eponymous album now under their belt – the record dropping last year to critical acclaim – the band have rightly taken their place as one of Britain’s best bands. Their Concorde 2 show, which was a special warm up for a huge support slot with The War on Drugs at The O2 the night after, proved that their niche appeal is now developing into something much bigger. An immensely tight live band, who sound as good on the night as they do on record, Slowdive’s shoegaze goodness brought a hypnotising nature to the 600-capacity venue.
This was a night of mixed emotions. On the plus side, the Brighton-formed Blood Red Shoes are back in action, following a near split, and with a new album due for release in the new year. The dynamic duo of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell are roaring back into life. However, for Sticky Mike’s, the flame is shortly to be extinguished, this coming New Year’s Eve, to be exact. It will be the end of a long road (barring some miracle of re-birth) for the venue that has been a multitude of incarnations since the 90s. Blood Red Shoes became alerted to its imminent closure and decided that they wanted to be a part of the tearful farewell, quickly organising this show.
Whether you’re a fan of the band’s music or just looking for a brilliant time, Skindred continue to tick all the boxes
With a fusion of wild shrieking psych-tinged guitars, as well as a laddish swagger you’d expect from a Madchester band, Husky Loops are almost crafting an entirely new genre for themselves.
A performer at ease with his audience, Ben Ottewell is truly superb, frankly far superior live than on record, if that can be believed.
A pop band steeped in the modernist pop of Sampha and The xx with a more heavenly slant, the duo performed an elegant, euphoric and intrinsic take on electronica.