Chips and new music by the seaside
Frankie and the Heartstrings at The Great Escape 2010

Bands, fans and industry big cheeses descended on Brighton this weekend for The Great Escape, a three-day showcase of the most promising talent for 2010. Now in its fifth year, The Great Escape has become synonymous with queuing, pissing rain and early morning beach-based shenanigans. This year proved no exception in any area other than the weather which for once, smiled down on Brighton.

We attempted to kick things off with Brighton home kids Blood Red Shoes, but found ourselves stood at the back of a very long corridor full of people, apparently there was a gig going on at the other end of it but we couldn’t see bugger-all so found fun elsewhere in the form of These New Puritans on the Levi’s Ones To Watch Stage. Tribal horns and thundering beats made for a visceral listening experience which belonged in a grander setting than a dingy basement.

Day two and a text message did the rounds that The Cribs were due to play a secret acoustic slot on the beach. Off we trotted. An hour and a half of waiting later, we were finally treated to three numbers including a heartfelt rendition of ‘We Share The Same Skies’. The gig was being filmed for MTV which bizarrely meant the audience had a side-on view of Ryan and co, Gary chirped up with “I hope this is my good side,” which mustered a few chuckles. We then shot next door to catch the M For Montreal showcase of Canadian bands, we caught Think About Life – a disco ensemble with the most energetic front man you have ever encountered. Think Mr Motivator crossed with Kayne West.

Another text messaged then summoned us back to the Levi’s Ones To Watch stage where were treated to an exclusive, surprise gig by The Futureheads who have just returned from a three-week sold-out tour. Old favourites such as ‘Decent Days And Nights’ and ‘Hounds Of Love’ were boshed out with a slick and effortless skill and the new single ‘Heartbeat Song’ proved to be a poignant moment in the sunshine which marked the triumphant return of our favourite Geordie rockers who believe it or not, are now in their tenth year. After the gig we had a little word in drummer Dave Hyde’s ear. “We spent a year and a half away from each other.” He told us. “I did lots of gardening during that time, but I don’t get paid for that so it’s great to be back and doing what we love best.”

As night time descended on Brighton we caught a slice of Sky Larkin’s set and were momentarily mesmerised by Katie Harkin’s girl-next-door charm as she tore through numbers such as ‘Beeline’ and ‘Matador’. Then we hopped over to Chew Lips who put on one of their most confident and successful gigs to date, Tigs took total ownership of the crowd and kept us glued to her bizarre dance moves and bellowing vocals as she delivered songs off the album ‘Unicorn’. French lovers John and Jehn then struggled with a few technical issues over at The Hope. Jehn has blossomed from a mousey haired wallflower into a vampish Karen-O type figure who now completely overshadows her other half and songs off the new album such as ‘And We Run’ proved that this couple are by no means getting stagnant. We rounded off our Great Escape Friday with a headline set from Delphic who turned their huge crowd at The Corn Exchange into a huge dancing mess with their impressive light show and drawn out dancey breakdowns.

Saturday’s offerings kicked off early afternoon at The Hope with new young upstarts The Vile Imbecilles and Cold in Berlin smashing there way through the hangovers being gradually off loaded in front of them, before heading back to a buzzing Levis Ones To Watch area where The Good Natured warmed up perfectly for one of the bands of the weekend, Frankie and the Heartstrings, to stride smartly on-stage, frontman Frankie Francis replete with drainpipes and well formed quiff before launching into their well honed mix of energetic and romantic pop to a more than appreciative gathering. Upstairs we were treated to private showcases of the best bands of the weekend in a flat front room, joined only by a video team and a handful of lucky fans.

The hotly tipped Esben and the Witch were next on the radar before seeing Clash favourite Ganglians sadly struggle with their sound, but not without impressing to some extent, before a couple of headline slots were crunched with an absolutely packed and ballistic Chase & Status drum and bass moshpit, and a set by the Big Pink that was cut short after only 30mins. As Groove Armada finished the weekend off to a loyal crowd of dedicated dance fiends, Clash headed for the hills to rest those weary legs.

Although 2010’s Great Escape was sadly lacking in big name headliners and as usual, the venues all filled up ridiculously quickly if anyone remotely well-known was playing but Clash thoroughly enjoyed bingeing on chips and new music by the seaside, long may The Great Escape continue.

Words by Jessica Hazel
Photo by Lucy Bryant


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