Brighton Weekender @ The Hope

 Friday 23rd of September saw the opening night of the Brighton Weekender at the Hope. A two evening event raising funds for Amnesty international, it was perhaps a little disappointing not to see a stronger turn out to appreciate local talent playing for such a worthy cause.

The night began in a low key manner with The Vaudevilles, described as being “three quarters perfect” by following act New Union, with that final quarter being the unplanned absence of drummer.  Not to be discouraged by this they opted for a more personal performance and there seemed something aptly French, given their name, about the light hearted meanderings of the set. Opening with the piercing vocals of “Say What You Want”, the intimacy of the affair was then highlighted by the invitation extended to the crowd to “name the next song”. “Destruction Derby” possibly not being the best choice for the minimalist vocal harmonies that followed, before the set drifted to an amicable close with the warmth of “Home”.

New Union leapt to the stage and soon provided the night with the direction and energy that it by then required. “Let’s Talk” and it’s powerful instrumental sparked a response from the crowd that seemed only to further energise the dynamic mid-eights, to the point where it seemed that lead singer Richard Jackson was in danger of paying a rather unplanned visit to the pub goers on the floor below. Guitar jettisoned in favour of keyboard, “It’s You” saw melodic introspection done justice by the extra purpose and drive afforded by drums.  Closing with the synthy yet grounded, and almost anthemic, “Tonight” this was an impressively varied and accomplished set, which does perhaps explain why they’ve been booked to support the likes of Dog Is Dead and Bastille in the near future.

Headliners for the evening were the idiosyncratic garage rockers, Ice Black Birds. Donning garb that can only really be done justice by the photos themselves, let’s just say there was a very much homemade poncho and, quite literally, bespeckled guitarist involved. With character oozing from the vocals “Shallow Bones” had the now swelled crowd swaying. This was followed by the revelation that The Birds were also a man down tonight, on this occasion a bassist, and hence the lead singer was having to improvise with what he referred to as an “unfamiliar beast”. Not that this in anyway detracted from the subdued frenzy, antithetical as that may sound, of “Nobody Loves Me Like You”. “22:22” saw the band finish with a bang, growling vocals and potent guitar thrashing prompting thoughts of a set that could last all evening. Until the drummer informed us “we don’t know any more songs”. Time to grab another pint then.

Ice Black Birds  –  22:22