Both tricky and brilliant in equal parts

The secret gig has already become the staple of The Great Escape diet, the main part of its personality and something of a tradition.

With rumours abound that local lads the Kooks might make an appearance and the festival text service working overtime informing fans of guerrilla gigs at all sorts of bizarre locations many people took their eye off the ball for any other bands that might have been in present in Brighton but absent from the gig listings.

Having rocked the Barfly to its still quite new core in the centre of town just four days earlier We Are Scientists decided to hang around and cause another stir, possibly including a few car crashes, unpaid taxi bills, heart murmurs and fist fights between friends as they made the last remaining tickets of a select few available at the Levi’s store in the city centre.

Propped high above the street on a scaffolding stage that bore its roots on a decidedly slippery staircase still drenched with beer from the previous nights festivities the band themselves, both new members in tow, looked more scared than excited to be taking the festival by storm. Unfortunately the logistics of getting this gig going including a very long sound check and French songstress Soko playing the world’s longest (but still pretty good) unofficial encore in the bar beforehand, leaving staff to evacuate any wall jumpers and then let the lucky few back in again.

As various PR types who had blagged their way in looked lost among the 40 odd We Are Scientists groupies down the front the words ‘awesome’, ‘iconic’ and ‘Beatles-esque’ were being bandied about, with exception of the latter they were probably right. Presented by Levis Ones To Watch the setting and setlist were both tricky and brilliant in equal parts as the band struggled to fit on the stage, or fit their songs into the time limit (eventually culling three or four) and the restaurant next door has never had better business as it provided arguably a superior view than those inside the Audio walls.

All in all the setting was as near to perfect as you are going to get when relying on the British weather, there was as little rain as there was sun, fortunately the only thing indifferent about the spectacle was the weather. The band blasted the crowd (inside and out) into frenzy and then whipped through ‘Lousy Reputation’, ‘Cash Cow’ and ‘Nobody Move…’ before new boy Max Hart defied gravity to balance on the edge of the stage when he looked sure to fall off leaving the rest of the band to plead with any survivors of the sure-fire massacre to ‘tell mum I love her’ and ‘tell her she still owes me 30 dollars.’

The laughter had scarcely faded when the scaffolding was rocking again and the local health and safety inspector was having a heart attack as air was ripped apart by riffage both new and old in the shape of ‘Inaction’ and ‘After Hours’. There was time for more comedy as Chris perfected his Alien vs Predator ‘Predator click’ and tested it out on the audience, who for the record weren’t scared at all, before the band tied up the festivities with ‘This Scene is Dead’ and rather aptly ‘Great Escape’. Both of these hits could have been the latest edition of Indie Singstar as the competition winners and outsiders alike sang every word of both loud enough to have woken anyone and everyone retiring on the South Coast.

The extra member gives the band a stronger sound and Chris and Keith seem even more inclined to throw themselves around the stage (even 20 feet up) now they have the melodic support of their new team mates. Rushed through the only thing not smiling was the set list, several crosses marked its body and only it knew how much more fun there was to be had had the band, at the top of their game, not been hurried along.

Then again the hundreds of people hanging from walls, balconies and cars along the seafront were none the wiser, and probably feeling smug as they had just witnessed the highlight of the festival with a great deal less effort than others in the official audience.


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