SPECTRUM: All Day Special – Brighton Dome – 21st April 2018

Photo by Jonski Mason

Spectrum, a project of the Brighton Dome to support local music, has run a concert on Record Store Day for a few years in the Studio Theatre but, as that is being redeveloped at the moment, they decided to host the event in the main concert hall this year. It is an eight hour marathon of almost non-stop live music with some of the best local acts around, in collaboration with the Green Door Store venue, QM Records and Love Thy Neighbour record labels.

One Eyed JacksIt was a scorching hot day, the beach was packed and it was hard work forcing myself to get to the venue for the 3pm opening band One Eyed Jacks. Though, I’m glad I did. I’ve seen then before a couple of times on smaller stages and it’s always been a bit of a squeeze for the seven-piece band, so it was nice to see them on the big stage with room to move and groove. It was a nice smooth introduction to the day, coming in from the sunshine to the sweet groves and their track ‘Something New’ seemed appropriate for a day where I was going to see a nice mix of bands I’ve seen before, some I have not and others I’ve been meaning to see for ages.

Abi WadeAbi Wade was up next, an act I’ve seen quite a few times over the years and amazingly she has only just released her first album. There were a few technical issues before she started which ended with her having to drop a song from her set, which was a shame. With her beautiful voice and melodic music nicely reverberating around the Dome, soon the whole place was under her spell. With a mixture of songs performed on the cello and keyboards her atmospheric music worked perfectly in the big venue and was a real treat to see her here.

Prince VaselineNext up on stage was Prince Vaseline who also had set-up difficulties, though, they only had 15 minutes between acts which was nice, keeping the music flowing but quite a challenge if there are any problems getting everything working on stage. I have to say they are not really my kind of band but their droney music filled the room and they put on a good show.

Strange CagesStrange Cages is a band name I’ve heard kicking around a bit recently but not really checked them out till now. That was a mistake on my part. This band is amazing. The band really grab your attention both visually and audibly. As there were only three of them they all had plenty of space on stage and really used it too. The drummer was one of the best of the day with exciting drum loops that really caught your attention. On top of that the bass player stomped around the stage kicking out great basslines and the guitarist / singer was high on attitude and screaming out the lyrics. This is really a band to watch as they certainly have that something extra.

Atlas WyndAtlas Wynd carried on the rock theme but with a more ballsy straight rock sound. With a nice mixture of ‘wall of sound’ heavy bits interlaced with a few quieter melodic bits they really had the stadium rock sound down to a tee. Their final song was a real epic builder that started off slowly and built into a manic climax. Like the band before, the bass player used the big stage to jump around and make the most of being on such an impressive stage. The stage was set quite low for the Dome, which worked quite well as it put the band closer to the audience and gave the whole day a more intimate feel.

DITZI’m not quite sure how to sum up Ditz. Noisy, experimental, anarchistic and disjointed are all words that come to mind but it was totally spellbinding. The singer spent most of his time with his back to the audience, while the guitarist’s head seemed to be in the monitor most of the time, which I suspect is because he was having problems with his guitar not working for a large part of the set. The music was loud, crazy, packed full of energy and with lots of feedback. If you like something crazy and different then this band have it in spades.

MurmurWrapping up the heavy music section, Murmur took to the stage with their noisy indie-pop. Lots of whaling guitars, lots of cymbals and droney bass. They had some nice catchy songs with a real stadium rock sound. Occasionally it reminded me of an early Placebo type sound and was another enjoyable performance.

In-between these performances there were short sets in the Founders Room, opposite the bar, which had a feel of an open mic type affair. There was a nice diversity of bands from the electronic sounds and captivating vocals of Babii, the nice Spanish guitar vibe of Chloé Bodur and the laid back reggae from Arif.

Breathe PanelLike a breath of fresh air, Breathe Panel gave us a break from the heavy rock with their melodic, dreamy rambling tunes. I’ve seen them a few times before and there was a new addition to the set with their recently released ‘Carmine’ single off their upcoming debut album.

Bobbie JohnsonAs Bobbie Johnson took to the stage there was quite a crowd in the venue who were all eagerly awaiting her performance. As soon as she came on stage she got the crowd to all come to the front and seemed to thrive off the crowd’s reactions. With the nice mix of rap songs along with an a cappella track followed by a special guest rapper, a rising star according to her but I failed to catch his name. She announced that she will be, “Dropping a new EP soon” and certainly seems to have the talent and following to go far.

Porridge RadioPorridge Radio are another band I’ve heard a lot about but not seen before and yet another band that blew me away. On stage they give the impression of a bunch of mates having fun rather than some of the more serious choreographed performances others try to pull off. Yet the music is anything but casual. They have some beautifully melodic songs that can suddenly ramp up into maniacally heavy sections. The two female vocalists work really well together and this was the first set of the day which seemed to finish too early. I could have listened to them for a lot longer.

Normanton StreetGetting towards the end of the night now and Normanton Street provided a nice chance to just sit back and enjoy the music. I’ve seen them a few times over the years and it’s always an enjoyable experience. Their big sound and band worked well on the big stage and the crowd really got into their smooth jazz music.

Dark HorsesWrapping up the night, and to be honest the main reason I was here tonight, was Dark Horses. They really impressed me when they first came onto the scene but I’d never managed to see them live before and it was well worth the wait. They were the perfect headliner, looking good on the big stage and carrying the crowd with them as they churned out one impressive song after another. They were the only band to get a longer set and still, by the end, I wanted more, so I’ll certainly be checking them out again when they next hit town.

So all in all it was a good show. Though it was great to see them all on the main stage, unfortunately the amount of people who turned up to see it could have comfortably fitted in the Studio Theatre. I don’t know if that’s because it was the hottest day of the year, because it clashed with Record Store Day, due to a lack of awareness or because all the bands do not have enough of an audience to pull that many people. It was a great shame though as it was an impressive day of music with some outstanding performances that not many people got to see. Though, those that were lucky enough to catch some of the performances will certainly remember it for a long time and I’m sure the bands will too.

Jonski Mason