2018 saw the usual mix of legends and newcomers appear across Brighton. At one end of the scale, Patti Smith’s Brighton Dome show was an absolute treat. All those years of poetic, powerful messages channelled into one unforgettable evening. A legend of a different sort, Jarvis Cocker’s surprise and intimate Patterns gig was one of those moments that you just can’t miss – his mixture of Pulp standards, solo classics and new ‘Jarv Is’ material made it a huge step up from the usual Britpop nostalgia. However, as a live moment, Shame at The Haunt is unbeatable. The explosion of a band grabbing their moment with both hands, in a venue that became woefully too small for them in the period between announcement and performance, the intensity of that night was unbelievable. To see them playing in front of a few thousand in London a few months later showed just what a dizzying ride they had enjoyed.
Bristol’s band of the moment Idles, have captured the imagination in a way few have been able to do in recent times. In lead singer Joe Talbot they have a lightning rod for some of the most pressing and talked about malaises of these times; men’s vulnerabilities being at the top of the list, along with fear of immigrants, stoked nationalism, toxic masculinity, and class warfare. Celebration and communion are at the heart of Idles, in a way that Killing Joke epitomised at the height of their powers in the 80s; a kind of open-armed tribal-punk catharsis, that pulls zero punches. With a roaring, groove-based post-punk band behind him, Idles are one of the best live acts around, as they mesh up Swans, with Birthday Party and The Fall, and transport this to the 21st century. They were able to transcend splintering genres to sell out this gig in one day, and next year’s follow up at the Dome, also in almost no time at all. A remarkable band for these extraordinary times.
It has been one hell of a year. From the influx of thousands of artists during festival season to watching many of our most-loved Brighton bands bloom into genuine world beaters, 2018 has been an incredibly successful year for music locally. Our Brightonsfinest writers now look back over the past 12 months to remember their highlights on record and in the live sphere as well as the ones we missed.
It didn’t take long, did it? Soon after their brilliant sold out show at Concorde 2 a few days ago, Bristol five-piece Idles have announced a new date, as part of a global tour, this time at the Dome, on 29th March. Three times the capacity, no doubt this will sell out as well, so you’d better be quick!!
This being one of the most highly-anticipated gigs of the year, from one of the most important bands of recent times, expectations were understandably elevated tonight, for what had been an immediate sell out when tickets went on sale a few months ago. Idles duly delivered, in what was a riotous celebration of music and communion, led by the exuberant singer/lyricist Joe Talbot.
Punk is back. It’s brutal, insane and filled with more angst than ever before. Bristol legends IDLES have returned with their second full length release, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, a record which I’m already willing to call, with little to no hesitation, album of the year.
In a time where political corruption, mass austerity and a general sense of disgust towards the majority of humanity has taken over, punk has long needed a figurehead to take the reins and capture the emotion of an entire nation. IDLES have not only stepped up to that role, but have done so with flying colours. Whilst their last album, Brutalism, was able to spark the new punk movement to rally the masses, just one year on, it already feels like the flames of revolution have started to rise.
Every now and then a band will turn up and simply blow almost everything out of the water. With its sheer vitality, its life affirming qualities, and its bravado. Idles are one of those. Taking their cue from what is almost universally regarded as an incredibly vibrant period of music making – the post-punk era – Bristol’s IDLES are fearless adventurers, and socio-political questioners, perfectly in tune with the chaotic and uncertain times we live in. They released their powerful debut album Brutalism in 2016 to high acclaim. The massively anticipated Joy As An Act Of Resistance is their follow up, with quickly sold out dates through the summer and autumn cementing their status as perhaps the most exciting band on the planet.
Joy as an Act of Resistance takes aim at everything from toxic masculinity, nationalism, immigration, and class inequality – all while maintaining a visceral, infectious positivity. Singer Joe Talbot summarises, “This album is an attempt to be vulnerable to our audience and to encourage vulnerability; a brave naked smile in this shitty new world. We have stripped back the songs and lyrics to our bare flesh to allow each other to breathe, to celebrate our differences, and act as an ode to communities and the individuals that forge them. Because without our community, we’d be nothing.”
To paraphrase that Marmite film classic, the streets were alive with the sound of music! Over three long days and nights, Brighton did truly come alive as The Great Escape juggernaut rolled into town for its 13th edition. The festival for new music saw over 500 acts playing in 40-odd venues, representing countries from all around the globe. If you add in the The Alternative Great Escape, and the plethora of events and pop-up performances arranged off the back of TGE and AGE, you’re looking at closer to 1,000 acts in 80-odd venues. Yes, it was mad, but glorious. Helped along by some beautiful mid-May sunshine, somehow within all the chaos, Brightonsfinest were out in force, documenting, commenting, and enjoying what we like to do best. Watch live music.
So, brace yourself. If you were there, hopefully memories will be stirred. If you weren’t, dive into our thoughts about the state of new music, and check out our many recommendations.
Back for its 13th year, The Great Escape is the premier showcase in Europe for new music. Over three days and nights, Brighton is host to 450-plus acts playing over 30 venues, from around 20 countries. You won’t have heard of many of these acts, but quality and potential is the name of the game here. Along with a few fairly established names, the bulk of the bill is made up of acts who have shown their talent, and are on the cusp of bigger and better things. It is a fabulous opportunity to check out new music, covering almost all genres known to man. Alongside The Great Escape, there’s The Alternative Escape, which also features a wealth of stunning new talent, and The Great Escape Convention, where many of the music industry’s movers and shakers congregate to check out the talent, and do a spot of networking and deal making. For three days in May, Brighton truly is the place to be! To help you get a grasp of what is out there, we asked various Brightonsfinest contributors, along with some industry players, to give us the lowdown on who they are looking out for.