The rise of Dorchester-via-Brighton artist Alfie Neale has been a joy to watch. Through hard work and perseverance – as well as a truckload of talent – the youthful singer-songwriter has become one of the hottest artists in the South East. His Haunt headline show, however, was a revelation. Outing him as not only one of the most talented artists Brighton has seen for a long time, but also one of the most popular and charismatic stars Brighton has produced in years, it was an utter joy to behold.
From start to finish of his euphoric headline show at The Haunt, which was rammed from the opening of the doors, the hundreds and hundreds in attendance sang and danced along to every word. Despite only having three ‘proper’ singles out in the world, Neale has built a fanbase that knows his live set from back-to-front and for good reason. A fusion of Yellow Days, Mac Miller and Jamiroquai, Alfie Neale’s sound is modernist and, importantly, fresh in the rock-saturated Brighton scene.
Kicking off a celebration of Brighton’s brilliant music scene were six-piece Pollon. Describing themselves as “80s-influenced, guitar-driven alt-pop/rock” and touting influences such as Simple Minds, Pink Floyd and Kate Bush, they were instantly impressive in the polished nature of their set. With two lead singers – Mollie Clack and Lauren Emma Hughes – the band create a dizzying mix of rock and roll sounds that reach everything from theatrical Queen-esque vocals all the way to euphoric 80s post-punk. A unique band, with character and charisma in abundance, it was an impressive set from an exciting band.
Likewise, Brightonsfinest favourite Chloe Bodur continued her immense momentum with another outstanding set. With a brilliant band behind her, Bodur is a sophisticated performer who fuses the worlds of soul and jazz effortlessly. Brand-new single ‘Billie’, in particular, which she stated she – quite unbelievably – wrote at the age of 17, is an intricate slice of neo-soul with a delicate and subtle vocal performance from the North West London artist.
This night, and moment, was all about showcasing Alfie Neale’s demonstrable rise through the ranks, however, and from the moment he walked on stage to a rapturous response he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. While Neale’s releases thus far have been woozy slices of neo-soul, I was surprised to see such a vast array of sounds from the young talent. From funk and soul with the likes of ‘Stepping Stone’, to seeing the artist explore hip-hop ideas, he’s got all the components to continue to grow into the behemoth artist he’s looking like becoming.
No doubt the biggest, and most important, moments of the set, though, came from his rendition of ‘Cloudboy’. Written about Neale’s housemate and friend, who committed suicide, ‘Cloudboy’ is a beautifully written ballad that saw the whole ground sing along and raise their hands – and voices – in respect. A truly touching moment, and an incredibly beautiful song, it was certainly the highlight of the night.
Ultimately, this was a celebration of BIMM’s incredible music scene. With Alfie Neale at the forefront of it, alongside his support, friend, and promoter Harry Saunders who made the night happen, the scene is thriving and this euphoric night was an incredible example of just that.