Sunday, 14 July 2013

Live - in pictures: Village Green Festival, Southend 13/7/2013

The sun shone brightly on Southend's annual music and culture festival, organised as always by the wonderful Metal organisation. They do a fantastic job with the council putting this on for free every year, and while I mainly go for the music there are a whole host of other activities, local theatre and music groups, and general stuff happening that make it a great day for the community.

First up on the Main Stage and opening the day were Japanese punk-poppers Mika Bomb. They played some energy-packed songs, the best of which was the brilliantly-titled 'Super Sexy Razor Happy Girls'.

Next up on the Main Stage were local boys The Lucky Strikes. These boys clearly deserve to be much more well-known than they are, they're hugely talented and their brand of Thames Delta alt-country sounded perfect in the sunshine.

A stroll round the site brought us to the brilliant Prairie Stage. Thankfully located in the leafy shade under the trees it played host to lots of country-tinged acts, all held together by an energetic compère - a great place to cool down.

Next we headed to the Sundown Stage - it was warm inside but with hay bales and cushions to sit on we couldn't complain! Stuart O'Connor played a brilliant solo set, looping up guitar and percussion sounds to sing over, and putting a lot of effort (and sweat!) into his performance.

We stayed in the Sundown tent to see Jason Steel battle with the sound wafting in from the main stage. He played quite a few snippets of other people's songs in between his own - anyone who plays the theme to the Littlest Hobo is OK by me!

Back to the Main Stage for one of the day's highlights - DB Cohen. Produced by local legend Snowboy this guy deserves to be huge, and is quite possibly Essex's answer to Alex Turner. He's got style, swagger, good lyrics and a great ear for a tune, and he plays a mean harmonica too!

You can probably judge how good he is by the quality of his band - the bass player from Florence + The Machine, the horn section from The Specials, and some proper full-on backing singers who've apparently sung with Adele! If you get a chance to see him live you really should.

Round to the Village School stage next for another soon-to-be-big act, Youth Club. Judging by the drunken dancing and singing along that was taking place they've already got a pretty loyal fan base. They certainly look like they wouldn't be out of place playing in the sun at Glastonbury next year.

Sweet Billy Pilgrim were a revelation to me. I really knew nothing about them apart from their Mercury nomination & somehow imagined they'd be playing twee folk or jazz noodlings. But no, this was really powerful stuff from some very gifted musicians. They were joined at the end by Sam Duckworth & his horn section, and sign of things to come later on...

Next on the Village School stage was Ed Harcourt. With just a lone trumpeter for company, he switched effortlessly between guitar and piano while building a good rapport with the crowd.

Ed finished his set with a trip into the audience and a chance to high-five, hug and generally interact with some particularly fervent (and quite drunk) fans - the sunshine definitely seemed to have brought out the best in everyone!

And so to Sam Duckworth. After pulling out at the last minute due to illness, this was a chance for him to make amends and play in his home town for the first time in 3 years. Joined by the Southend Youth Orchestra and a horn section marshalled by his long-time trumpeter Mikey Glennister it was a show full of passion and joy.

Sam was joined by various members of Sweet Billy Pilgrim during his set, which also featured his dad rocking out with some guitar solos during one of the songs!

The evening finished with a cast of thousands joining forces for a rousing rendition of Rock The Casbah, sending everyone off into the night with a spring in their step. The organisers were asking for voluntary donations this year to help keep the festival going for the future, and as Sam Duckworth rightly pointed out this was well worth the £3 they were asking for. Here's to many more years!

Sam Duckworth, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, The Southend Youth Orchestra & more play Rock The Casbah at Village Green Festival 13/7/2013

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