Review: Sunday @ Beach Break Live
This article is pending translation.
As Sunday morning crawled out of its post-Dizzee daze, the sun made a belated appearance and Beach Breakers was treated to some warmth at last. With the waft of barbequed breakfasts in the air, students flocked to the beach to catch tans and Frisbees, whilst the bulk of the afternoon’s line-up reflected the chilled mood around the site.
First off was Busker Rhymes, providing some feel-good covers on the beach stage The Wreck, which had previously been out of action due to the weather. He managed to get some early risers up on their feet yet soon female four-piece Wolperdinger had attracted me away from the sand. With lead vocalists issuing plush harmonies in gorgeous, Feist-esque tones, the electro outfit pushed just enough into the left-field to live up to their marvellously alternative name. A name to remember, if you can.
Then Chai Wallahs presented the folk brilliance of duo Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin to help extend the relaxed vibe. Henry executed beatbox harmonica at its most-dandy as the pair broke into half an hour of traditional ballads and original pieces, with Martin’s sonorous violin adding layers of melancholy and elation to her partner’s rich vocals. They deserve to set the folk world all a quiver, but could have done with a small supporting band to fully round off their at times under-nourished sound.
With the evening fast approaching, the main stage then provided a shot of innovative energy needed for the closing party to come, with Ireland’s finest and funniest improv hip-hoppers Abandoman. “I want everyone to reach into their pocket and take out the oddest thing they own,” announced comic front-man Rob Broderick as he launched into hilarious opener What’s In Your Pocket? rapping about the surprisingly varied range of objects thrown to him from the crowd. He quickly attracted a large crowd as he involved more and more audience members for subjects of raps, ridicule or as competitors in a giant Connect Four game. Just as at home at a music festival as at the Edinburgh Fringe or supporting major artists such as Ed Sheeran, the band proved themselves as an absolute must see music/comedy crossover and were the unexpected highlight of my weekend.
The Milk stepped up to shake out their soul-licked rock ‘n’ roll, which although reminiscent of a bygone era, has its feet firmly in the now. Highlights included singles Broke Up The Family and B Roads, whose catchy hooks were soon picked up by the slowly growing crowd, and it is a testament to this young and loveable four-piece that their ever self-assured sound works just as well on a festival main stage as in the more intimate, sweaty venues of their recent tour.
Equally enthralling were Cornwall’s 8-piece Backbeat Soundsystem, who more than maintained the sense of energy and skanked their way past tea-time in the Chai Wallahs tent. Blending reggae and funk with much aplomb, the band have built up a reputation for cracking live performances and on tracks such as One Step Forward and Lovedub they pumped out stomping bass, dub synths and glorious brass. Another brilliant live band I recommend to all.
Overnight success Ben Howard was next on the main stage with his subtlety memorable melodies and meditative lyrics. Playing a short set of songs from 2011’s debut album, Every Kingdom, the singer-songwriter captivated some and, having asserted that he wouldn’t be indulging Radio 1 fans with Live Lounge cover of Call Me Maybe, irritated others. The quality of his controlled guitar playing and understated vocals were indeed lost on such unrealistically expectant students, but the more chart friendly Only Love and The Fear went down a treat with all. However, come the closing tune I was surprised to find the blatant omission of standout single Keep Your Head Up from the young artist's set list and this understandably peeved off other fans who began to sing the song once the stage had been vacated.
Perhaps he was taking a leaf out of The Maccabees’ book, a band that refuses to play breakthrough hit Toothpaste Kisses. However, unlike Ben Howard, Orlando and co have three stonking albums worth of material at their disposal and they didn’t disappoint Beach Breakers as they stormed through a mix of old and new. The sweeping Pelican from new album Given To The Wild swirled around Pembrey Country Park and signified the new, more mature direction of the band, which is going down a treat with fans. The medley of classics, including About Your Dress, All In Your Rows and Lego were welcomed like old friends and the band carried an air of comfortable confidence as they dipped in and out of their increasing variety of material. Another quality album and they’ll be topping the bill.
Cranking up the atmosphere before Friendly Fires bloomed into action was the in-house brass band, who paraded around the site with standards such as When The Saints. They picked up a stream of merry men and women before heading back to the Juke Joint to offer alternative entertainment for the evening.
The only way I was going to finish off my weekend was with Hertfordshire’s most tropical export, Friendly Fires. Splashing out hits such as Paris, Hawaiian Air and Jump In The Pool the band reflected the positive, party mood of the sun-filled day. Playing with a tireless spring in their step, they bounced through a set of simply joyous indie-dance and truly conquered the revellers. A perfect way to round up an exciting, diverse weekend of music.
Beach Break proved itself to be a very friendly, relaxed festival and from its big-name headliners to smaller gems off the main stage, truly had something for everyone. The advantage of having a beach to lounge on if you got tired of the music may only have been applicable in the sunshine but even in the rain, I had a lot of fun. Here’s to next year!