Category Archives: Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds Brighton @ Dynamite Gallery

Last week I was fortunate enough to be one of three performers at the June edition of Sofar Sounds Brighton, which was held inside the lovely venue of the Dynamite Gallery in Brighton on Trafalgar Street.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - The Fiction Aisle
The Fiction Aisle. Photo by Nicola Jackson.

After pretty severe delays on the train (considering it was just a 3 minute journey from Hove to Brighton station), I arrived about 15 minutes before the doors opened and a stage was set inside the bay of the shop window. The first act on was a very stripped back version of The Fiction Aisle, just 1/5 of their full line-up with just Tom White on vocals and acoustic guitar, backed up by the lovely sounds of a Korg played by Alan Grice. Their set consisted of just three songs, as unfortunately Alan had somewhere else to be straight afterwards, however the set was certainly short but sweet! Tom’s soft vocals were expressive and dynamic in places, which slotted in well under his guitar playing and the smooth wash of sound on the keys, which featured well throughout, embellishing the chords and playing solos to give the songs a welcome new dimension. I’d not heard TFA before and this appetiser has certainly made me want to see the full band set-up live very soon.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - Tom Sayer
Tom Sayer. Photo by Nicola Jackson.

After a quick removal of equipment from the stage I went up to play. As the gig was unplugged, there was no technical wizardry required and without amplification it definitely felt like there was less of a barrier between the performer and the audience. Having not played a live show in a little while, particularly one of this kind with nowhere to hide, I was keen to get my first song out of the way to feel more comfortable. I glanced at my set-list and then ignored it and played an old track Sway that my girlfriend had requested I play and I had previously dismissed. The audience were silent and still. It is quite unlike anything I have experienced as a performer before. I looked up and felt like I was some kind of teacher with the best behaved class in the world. Except I wasn’t teaching them anything, just playing them a few of my songs.

After encouraging the audience to imagine that they were inside the cool looking painting behind me (it was quite hot in the gallery mid-heatwave) I played Is This It then High Masts, a tale of two friends from uni who were never meant to split up (which the audience seemed to genuinely care about). Finally, a shameless plug of my new single All I’ve Got/Heartstrings (neither or which I played as they are piano-based songs) which I encourage people to look up on YouTube as they have cool videos, before finishing off with Spend A Little Time With Me. Applause. Interval. And relax. Buzzed.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - Lights
Lights, Camera, Sofar! Photo by Nicola Jackson.

Some of the audience spoke to me during the interval as we all stood outside, some smoking and many heading to the corner shop for a drink or two. One thing Sofar Sounds does very well is uniting the performers and the audience, which makes it much easier to interact with everybody and help to develop your fans in an organic and honest way.

The final act of the evening was Will Mussett who performed some solo acoustic versions of tracks from his album November Storm. (You can here the album in full here). Leaning on the pop side of singer-songwriter, Will was featured as last Wednesday’s BBC Introducing Track of the Day with his song Follow, so he is definitely one to keep an eye out for in the future.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - Snake
Watch Out! Photo by Nicola Jackson.

Overall, the Sofar Sounds Brighton gigs have been some of the best unplugged and stripped back shows that I have been to in recent months. The unusual venues add an excitement for both the performers and the audience and by keeping things short it gives the audience a chance to try out some new bands and listen to more online/ speak to them after to find out about upcoming gigs. I would strongly recommend all local performers to try to get a slot to perform at Sofar Sounds Brighton, and any new music fans to apply for tickets each month to some of the most memorable intimate gigs you will ever see.


Sofar Sounds Brighton @ Lick HQ

On the unsuspecting industrial estate just a stone’s throw from Brighton station, inside the inconspicuous New England House concrete tower block lies the location of last night’s Sofar Sounds Birthday Relaunch Party – in the HQ of Brighton-based fat-free frozen yogurtists Lick.

Surrounded by quirky pictures and photographs, fluorescent Lick lips sign (reminiscent of Rolling Stones), a projector, deck chairs and the Lick-mobile – a bicycle with a frozen trolley for portable delivering of delicious frozen Lick tubs – the musicians seemed to blend right in with the American High School vibe – imagine Power Rangers crossed with Saved By The Bell and you’re almost there!

  • Open Up at Lick HQ
    Open Up at Lick HQ
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Froyo Logo
    Froyo Logo
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • B+W Lick-Mobile
    B+W Lick-Mobile
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Lick Those Lips
    Lick Those Lips
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Marianne Dissard
    Marianne Dissard
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Youth Club
    Youth Club
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Youth Club + Audience
    Youth Club + Audience
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.
  • Bosco Rogers
    Bosco Rogers
    Photo by Nicola Jackson.

The first act was the eccentric French-speaking American raised Marianne Dissard who was only a Swan dress short of Björk. Currently couch-surfing across Europe whilst playing a string of tour dates, Marianne’s songs were diverse, ranging from serene in the opener to quite angry in the following track – almost with a Sex Pistols meets Rage Against The Machine style performance. Despite her confetti, poetic French language and disco-ball-come-helmet, she still felt more like a musical petit pain and not a full-sized baguette, not quite reaching her potential just yet, but being well on the way to doing so with a truly captivating performance, just requiring a little bit of work on her backing track production.

Following on was Youth Club, an upbeat indie pop 6-piece from Southend who really reminded me of an old favourite local band called Two Spot Gobi.  Their music is very catchy, melodic and not over-egged – subtle backing vocals and a real feel-good vibe like Jason Mraz or Jamiroquai. I’m still singing their songs today so they are definitely one to keep an eye out for! They’re even playing the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekender this year, so it seems that somebody somewhere must agree with me!

Check out their ‘Brothers EP’ on Soundcloud below. The tracks ‘Breathe’ and ‘People’ which were played from the EP last night were both fantastic with strong melodies and real head-nodding toe-tapping funk. I hope you enjoy the EP as much as I have.

Finishing the night off with some gusto, after an interval for complimentary Lick froyo, were 5/7ths of Bosco Rogers. Their surf rock groove was quite authentic with hammond organ keys and grungy distorted sounds from the lead singer’s Barth’s Rickenbacker.  With a tall blonde bashing a tambourine and singing BV’s, the bassist chugging along and a cajon to finish, this stripped back setup still packed a punch with their snappy lyrics and hook lines.

You can listen to a track off their new EP ‘French Kiss‘ which is to be released on 27th April Worldwide below.

To find out more about Sofar Sounds Brighton, visit the Sofar Sounds Website or their facebook page and sign up to receive gig updates to apply to be a part of the next Sofar Sound gig.

Check out my review of the last month’s show  – Sofar Sounds at Hotel Peliroco.

Sofar Sounds Brighton - April 2015 Lick Lockers
Lick My Locker. Photo by Nicola Jackson.

Sofar Sounds Brighton @ Hotel Pelirocco

Tonight, in the ‘Kraken’s Lair’ basement of the quirky boutique Pelirocco Hotel in central Brighton, Sofar Sounds took over and made a stage for three local artists, Alex KP, Slam The Poet and Our Girl.

Sofar Sounds in Kraken's Lair. Photo by Nicola Jackson.
Sofar Sounds in Kraken’s Lair. Photo by Nicola Jackson.

Walking through the entrance of what looked like a bohemian brothel, down past the spiral staircase, ornamental fittings and plush carpets the Sofar Sounds Brighton team of volunteers were beavering away behind the scenes getting the stage ready for the show – the stage being the shell of a 4-poster sofa-bed. Adjoining to the makeshift venue was the Kraken’s Lair, a bedroom kitted out with a clam shaped-bed, mirrored ceiling, full-blown stripper’s pole and as much Kraken paraphernalia as you will ever likely see in a lifetime.

Sofar Sounds Brighton March 2015 - Alex KP
Alex KP at Hotel Pelirocco. Image by Nicola Jackson.

Performing to the most people who have ever been in one room, the opening act was Alex KP, a singer-songwriter from Cambridge who is currently residing in Brighton. She has a grainy voice like an old tree, and performs lengthy ballads which feel like Sunday afternoon car journeys down winding country lanes – but without the nausea. Her low salty tones have heavy flavours of jazz and blues with no loyalty to conformity or tonality.  Alex has a CD out very soon so keep an eye out for her next gigs to get one!

Sofar Sounds Brighton - Slam The Poet
Slam The Poet at Hotel Pelirocco. Image by Nicola Jackson.

Warming up backstage with some chips in hand were Slam The Poet. Performing to a backdrop of samples which sounded something like a cross between Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Eminem and Soul II Soul, the lead singer improvised his way through a number of original compositions. He engaged well with the audience, and commented that “…freestyling doesn’t stop, it just trails off. We set up a scaffolding and fill it in”.

After a short interval for drinks and loo breaks, 3-piece Our Girl brought the night to the end with some sexy Buckley-esque guitar lines and the type of grungy shoegaze that you used to hear from the live bands playing at The Bronze in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Their instrumentals were pensive and the vocals of lead singer Soph Nathan were light and floaty, like a good victoria sponge.

Despite the limited space, the attentive audience were very appreciative of the musicians and seemed to be having a great time. I’m sure that there were many regulars and also many more who would be telling their friends and applying for tickets again next time.

Sofar Sounds events happen all across the world, usually once a month in a number of UK cities including London, Manchester and Brighton. To find out more about Sofar Sounds or to sign up for their mailing list to be in with a chance of winning tickets, visit
@SofarSoundsBTN #SofarBTN

Sofar Sounds Brighton

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015

I don’t know about you, but I’ve no idea where February disappeared to! Saying that, looking back over my blog I’ve written a lot of stuff over the last month including 10 Reasons To Go To Brighton Komedia, Love Supreme and Brighton Music Conference realeases and my Fresh February Jams. I also attended some great gigs all across Brighton, as well as playing a couple of shows myself.

I’d like to give notable mentions to The Maydays: Tonight’s Top Story and Amelia Curran.

The Mayday’s show was comprised of improvised comedy sketches, made up from newspaper clippings which were cut out by the audience before the show started. The troupe were very quick to think on their feet, with a natural comic flair which kept the whole audience entertained throughout their performance.

Amelia Curran’s gig at The Verdict was a wonderful show in an intimate venue. Having never been to The Verdict before, I was really impressed with the sound of the small basement venue, as well as the beautiful staging and decor throughout. It felt like a Soho jazz club, but not in the seedy way. Amelia’s performance to a crowd that was somewhat lacking in numbers was engaging, entertaining and enlightening. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her, as well as for other gigs at The Verdict.

On to March, we have some great music lined up with some fantastic internationally touring artists such as Jon Gomm and Courtney Pine, as well as some more unknown names who are definitely worth checking out, so get out this month and keep the local music scene alive! If you need any help, here is my guide for Who To See in Brighton in March 2015.

Tuesday 3rd March

Dry The River
Concorde II – 7:30pm – £12 – BUY TICKETS

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Dry The River

A new discovery for me, but obviously not for others with over 80k fans on Facebook, Dry The River sound from their name to be some kind of post-hardcore punk outfit – or maybe that is just me? Imagine my surprise when I had a listen to discover that they were an alt-rock group with a great talent for melody and catchy tunes. After a string of EPs they released their first album, Shallow Bed, in 2012 before following it up with Alarms in The Heart last August. Their music has a diverse sound, varying from upbeat rock to down-tempo harmony-laden folk/indie. Genre labels aside – who likes them anyway – the singer has a great voice and the band play together really well. I have a feeling this will be an exciting gig so brighten up your Tuesday night and don’t let your live music intake dry up!

Wednesday 4th March

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Chris Wood

Melting Vinyl Present Chris Wood
Komedia – 8pm – £14 –  BUY TICKETS

Following on from Ivor Novello Award-winning Scott Matthews last week at St. George’s Church, Melting Vinyl are following on with another award-winning performer – Chris Wood, winner of the BBC Folk award, amongst others! Returning after a previous SOLD OUT Brighton show, which was described as both engaging and funny, I am looking forward to the show, which could include anything from traditional English dance music to French folk – so I guess we will see what mood he is in on the night!

Support comes from the Internationally acclaimed Tim Keegan and a local favourite of mine EZ Stone, whom I first saw supporting Slow Club last year – and honestly I preferred his set. Come along early and show your support to some great local talent.

Thursday 12th March

This Is The Kit
Green Door Store – 7:30pm – £8 – BUY TICKETS

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - This Is The Kit

After listing a track from This Is The Kit in my Fresh Jams February 2015 article, I was really pleased to discover that they were coming to Brighton to play at Green Door Store just a few weeks later! Lead singer Kate Stables has a delicate voice which coupled with her intricate guitar playing is quite a sound to hear! This Is The Kit has a slightly quirky folky sound to it and with the Brighton show finishing off a two week UK tour, I am sure that they will be wanting to go out with a bang and leave you holding on for more, as they are above!

Check out their brand new video for Bashed Out, which was just released on Friday 27th Feb. Fresh! 

Saturday 14th March

Melting Vinyl Presents Courtney Pine + Zoe Rahman
St. George’s Church– 7:30pm – £18/20 – BUY TICKETS

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Courtney Pine

Having seen Courtney playing live at Love Supreme Festival – in fact he was one of my Six New Jazz Discoveries from Love Supreme 2014 – I know that the man is very comfortable performing even on the largest of stages. Combine that stage presence with one of the most virtuosic jazz woodwind players in the world and the beautiful setting of St George’s Church and you have a magical evening ahead of you. With support from “one of the brightest stars of the contemporary jazz scene”, Zoe Rahman. Great for a Mother’s Day treat!

Wednesday 18th March

Good Lies Presents Lotte Mullan + Jazz Morley
Komedia – 7:30pm – £9/11 – BUY TICKETS

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Lotte Mullan

With a sultry voice that recalls Eva Cassidy, Katie Melua and Norah Jones, Lotte Mullan is somebody that I only came across last month when fishing through the Brighton gig listings for March – and boy am I glad that I found her there! Her songs have a cutting honesty and DIY attitude to her music, turning down a major record deal to set up her own label, is something I as a musician have a lot of respect for – and I’m sure that a lot of other unsigned acts will agree with me. Don’t miss this chance to see her live in one of Brighton’s top venues!

Support comes from the soulful south-coast gal Jazz Morley, who after extensive touring is settling down to write her debut album, which we can expect to see out later this year!

Sunday 22nd March

Brighton Philharmonic
Brighton Dome – 2:45pm – £11-£35 (50% concessions)

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Brighton Philharmonic

Finalising their 90th Concert Season with a concert that I have been looking forward to since seeing the programme back in September, Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing amongst works by Walton and Lord Berners, Gustav Holst’s The Planets – one of my favourite pieces of classical music. The show will certainly be making sure that the BPO are going out with a bang as the last full concert of the year – before their summer season kicks in from 21st June and their next concert programme begins on Sunday 11th October 2015. Whether you’re new to classical music or a regular concert-goer, this is a not a show that you would want to miss so let your hair down on a Sunday afternoon and see what the local Philharmonic have up their sleeves! Student and concession tickets from just £5.50!

Tuesday 24th March

Jon Gomm
Komedia – 7:30pm – £12.50 – BUY TICKETS

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Jon Gomm

Having been lucky enough to see Jon Gomm last time he came to Brighton in June 2014, I was also fortunate enough to be able to interview him too –  check out my interview here.  If you’ve not heard of Jon Gomm, his music is best described as insane finger-style and technical. His signature track is Passionflower, which has received over 8 million hits on YouTube and is a serious tune! Despite being amongst the forefront of his field, Jon is still an independent musician, working without any formal management, proving that it can be done without falling into the mainstream. Check out the video below, be amazed and come along to join a wonderful night of live music.

Tuesday 24th March

Sofar Sounds

Who To See in Brighton in March 2015 - Sofar

If you’ve not heard of Sofar Sounds before, then don’t worry you’re not alone. In fact, that is kinda the point of the organisation. Are you fed up of going to acoustic gigs where the audience aren’t really listening and you have a better view of the audience’s mobile phones than you do of the artist performing? Sofar Sounds is an international organisation creating secret gigs with some of the best local and national talent performing in intimate home-made venues . Who wouldn’t want to see that?

The way that it works is that you register for a ticket (or a ticket and a plus one) and Sofar Sounds get back to you just before the show to let you know if your application has been successful. The location of the gig is kept a secret until the last minute – you will be told the venue and exact start times usually the night before the show. As most of the venues are somewhat makeshift – a living room, a church, a shop – there is always limited space available, but there is always a good time to be had by all with the intimate acoustic gigs. If you’re a fan of Live Lounge style music, this is one to get on board with, so don’t delay – REGISTER FOR FREE TICKETS.

If you think there is a gig that I’ve missed out and that you’d like me to preview, or have a gig coming up that you’d recommend, drop me a line on or via twitter on @tomsayeruk.