St Ann’s Wells Gardens Spring Festival – 2015

For those of you who don't know St Ann's Well Gardens Spring Festival is held to raise money for the preservation and restoration of the park. There is a fabulous selection of food, activities for the children and of course there is the music. This is mainly arranged on the Main Stage up at the top of the park, along with a few things like drumming ensembles performing around the park. Over the years this has been growing in stature and is often a mix of local young talent and local touring bands. So with a typical grey bank holiday skies looming overhead I headed down to the park to check out the music.

As I got there The Speak were just coming onto the stage. They are your fairly bog standard pub rock band type affair. It looks like they left the drummer at home and the duo up front played guitar and bass to a backing track. None of the songs really stuck in the head but it was nice easy listening and a perfect way to start the festival.
Next up were Luccas and King, a young folk/country female duo with acoustic guitars. Unfortunately their set seemed very laboured at times and the songs were not that easy to get into.

Obviously from the crowd's reaction Misunderstood were the band all the kids has come down to see. Hailing from South London, something they seemed to like reminding everyone of a lot, this duo were there to entertain. Not surprising that the kids seem to know them as they play that 'soul' rap pop stuff the kids love… Till they grow out of it. They put on a dynamic performance that got the kids up and dancing along with lots of 'can you make some noise' type shutouts, which were dutifully responded to and in the end an entertaining act to watch even if you did not like the music.

The tough act of following Misunderstood was given to Chella, a young female singer and guitarist who gave a short, somewhat nervous solo performance. Despite the nerves it was obvious this was another one of the ever increasing pool of young talents coming out of Brighton. A brief taster from someone who looks brimming with potential given a few more years experience.

Faye Houston would have been perfect if the sun was shining and the hill full of people were basking in the sunshine. Her really sweet soulful voice and intelligent guitar accompaniment filled the park with smooth sounds. She has an amazing voice that instantly grabbed your attention and was a pleasure to watch on stage. Towards the end of the set the guitarist joined in on the vocals changing the sound to something more like that a 70s folk/rock duet which showed nice diversity and another name to keep an eye out for.

Due to, I believe one of the members of New Street Adventure not actually having turned up, the Moulettes were up next, once they had set up, which was no small task on such a small stage. Still it was a smaller line up than when I saw them last at the launch tour for their Constellations album just over a year ago. Back then it was a big band and a lot of pressure as the Moulettes undertook a large tour of the country to promote their new album. Since then they seem to have been continuously touring and going down a storm wherever they play. The smaller line up did not seem to affect the music much and the touring seems to have developed the live sound into a more relaxed and reflective version of the music. Another band that could have befitted from a bit more sun and warmth as you sat there listening to their tales of the cosmos.

After the long wait for the Moulettes to set up and the show running a bit late New Street Adventure were going to have to be something special to keep me there. Unfortunately they performed predictable pop rock as a bog standard 4 piece 'down from London' band so I called it a day and headed back to the warmth of indoors.

St Ann's Wells Garden Spring event is an amazing little festival that seems to be for the local people and enjoyed by them too. There were people of all ages and types, some for the music, some to offload the kids and some just to get out of the house. The music is never going to be major acts, the park could not accommodate them, but they have featured some interesting bands and tried to cater for all tastes. Everyone seemed to be having fun and will most likely be back next year for more of the same.
Jonski Mason.