As the sun slowly dipped behind the horizon the Neon Saints Brass Band took to the outside stage at the Fortune of War. This ten-piece marching band have the songs and attitude to win over any audience. Luckily the majority of those in the packed seating area were there solely for them, so they didn’t have to win over too many neutrals. The mild evening, coupled with their New Orleans second liner sound, meant that everyone’s weekend got off to the perfect start. Opening with fan favourite ‘Money’ the Neon Saints were tight, loud and infectious. People danced from the offset with a verve seldom seen. As the set progressed the crowd got bigger until security had to start turning people away.
This is how I wanted to start the review, but sadly due to a downpour earlier in the day there was a nasty chill in the air at the Fortune of War when the Neon Saints Brass Band started to play. A fair sized crowd assembled throughout the build up to the gig, that was sound-tracked by The Tempest Inn next door. Through a mixture of 1990s club hits and ill foreseen remixes, imagine Gypsy Waters and INXS’ ‘I Need You Tonight’ both being played at the same time and you’re on the right lines, The Tempest’s bar staff constructed a temporary metal cage around their patrons. During the sound check The Tempest, underhandedly, turned their volume up so the band couldn’t really hear themselves. It was bizarre to say the least!
When the Neon Saints Brass Band eventually took to the stage, they kicked the show off with ‘Money’. From that massive opening salvo the crowd was to their feet. Due to the cold August evening dancing made sense as the music the Neon Saints Brass Band make is impossible not to gyrate to and it helped warm you up. ‘Lights Out’, ‘How High’, ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Funkin’ followed in quick succession. During these opening songs The Tempest kept putting up the volume of their sound system to try and drown out the band, a-la Scott Pilgrim. Given that the band is made up of brass instruments and a huge marching drum, this didn’t really work, apart from when vocalist Becky Coleman sang. Her usually powerful vocals were lost in the ether, but she made up for it proving why she is one of the best front people in Brighton! Fierce tambourine playing and dancing meant that the band were always out main focal point.
The second half was more of the same until ‘Ignition’ and ‘Door’ closed their second sent and the night. Apart from the dismal weather, and The Tempest trying to drown out the band with dubious dance music, the night was a riotous success and the Neon Saints Brass Band proved why they are worthy not only of their praise and hype, but the title of Brighton best party band. The only thing that was missing was a little more cowbell.