So much music so little time.
Three days in Butlins may not sound the most exciting of things for most of us, myself included, especially for their adult music weekends. After all, that usually means a weekend dedicated to a revival of either a decade or a type of manufactured pop. But now and again a little gem appears for those of us who enjoy a more varied and alternative type of music. And Rockaway Beach was just that weekend.
So after arriving on Friday afternoon, and enjoying a lovely dinner, it was on with the music. With two venues running up and down in the same building, it was fantastic to just pop from one to other, and it seems the timings were done in such a way you could have gone endless hours without a break from music.
Friday started for me with Bill Ryder-Jones; not a bad start at all with his guitar infused rock with surely a nod towards Jeff Buckley.
Having seen him supporting Steve Mason a while back, knew it would be a superb way to start the weekend, and he really didn’t disappoint, even though he was missing the keyboard player who had had to step in to play bass instead tonight. It didn’t matter, although it makes me wonder how much better it would have sounded with the full band. Maybe next time he is in London I will have to check him out again.
As the set finished, it was time to move downstairs to see what that was like, and in time to catch some of Blanck Mass, the solo project of Benjamin John Power, one half of Fuck Buttons, who have done some interesting electronic dance music over the years. But it was only 8pm, and without being in the frame of mind for that type of electronic beat, we gave it 15 minutes then decided to take a quick drink break. Sorry Benjamin, nothing personal, I do love Fuck Buttons and I’m sure I would love you in another environment.
And then back upstairs for We Are Scientists, a band I saw about ten years ago, and I couldn’t remember quite why, but I knew they were good live. Except good would be to do them a disservice. They were fantastic. Lead man Keith Murray owned that stage, using every inch available to jump around with the energy of a Duracell bunny. How he could keep playing the guitar as he did so is anyone’s guess. His voyage into the audience was a perfect opportunity to get some great pictures, if only I was a) any good at photos, and b) had a half decent phone that didn’t take five minutes to get ready. He even gave singing with a large “Warning – wet floor” cone on his head a go, although I wouldn’t recommend that as a standard part of the set for the future; saying that it did give a little echo effect.
After the madness of the set, it was time for another quick break then back upstairs for the headline act of the night, Saint Etienne.
I was never a fan of them at the time of their major success, although like anyone of a certain age, can certainly remember a few of the songs. And tonight just reminded me why I wasn’t a fan. Take away the hits and you are left with characterless dross. Add in a band with absolutely no charisma and it became really hard to work out why they were asked to play. I think the bookers got the schedules wrong and they were meant to have been at a 90s revival night where they belonged, not an alternative music weekend.
Oh well, all in all, still a good first night.