As only the bravest are going out, even with their Christmas Jumpers and Duffle Coats, December is always a tough time for musicians to fill out their gigs. That said, I’ve been to some amazing gigs already this month at some great venues that you may not have been to before. Have a read and checkout what is on over the upcoming months.
Martin Harley @ Latest Music Bar – 3rd December
Having first seen Martin play in a small cafe in Bangor a few years ago, it felt very comfortable seeing him this time from the back of the small basement venue at Latest Music Bar. The place was packed with fans of the music and the venue, as everybody sat comfortably at their little tables enjoying the support Sam Lewis and I saw a lot of people come up and by his CD during the interval after his performance of his self-confessed sad songs, which he performed in between sips of red wine.
Martin came on to play a few tracks during Sam’s set, which is always nice to see as it is usually the support who is “honoured” to play on a single track for the main act. It was clear that the guys were close friends and performed well together in a very relaxed way, improvising over each other’s parts confidently. Martin has a really calm demeanor on stage and a crazy powerful voice which goes hand in hand with his brilliant guitar skills. I’ve certainly never seen a white man play the blues like him before. Check out his music if you like that kinda thing. It’s awful good!
The venue is intimate, great for acoustic music but equally good for bands as the sound man is some kind of wizard who can make anybody sound great playing there from his dedicated crows nest at the back of the venue. With a varied programme, there is a lot to choose from so why not have a look below and see what is coming up soon?
British Sea Power @ All Saints Hove – 5th December
Always a fan of this venue, One Inch Badge have been using it over the last year as a larger venue to put on some of the great acts that come to Brighton. With plenty of space at the back for the bar and merchandise tables, it’s only real downside is the toilet facilities which often leave you queueing for a little while. So go before you leave the house, like your mum probably used to tell you as a child. Other than that, the sound is great and the setting is beautiful. What more could you want.
British Sea Power were performing as a part of the Brighton Drill Festival, a winter-equivalent to May’s Great Escape Festival, just with fewer venues and bands, but nonetheless still an impressive lineup.
The band on before BSP were called It Hugs Back, an atmospheric and slightly spacey band who made some great musical textures. They were also selling CD albums for £5 with a free t-shirt. Other bands should take note of this as I’m definitely gonna give the album a proper listen very soon and the t-shirt is great promotion for the band so it’s a win-win really.
British Sea Power played a beautiful hour-long set, mostly with accompaniment from a brass quintet from the Bournemouth Symphonic Orchestra, which really gave their filmic dreamy sound some teeth to bite into you with. BSP are also playing at The Haunt on 19th December and from their strong performance on 5th December, I’m keen to see them again!
Brighton Philharmonic @ Brighton Dome Concert Hall – 7th December
I’ve always been a big fan of the Brighton Dome as a venue. Inside it looks like a palace, and is the closest thing that Brighton has to the Royal Albert Hall. The sound is great and the venue works just as well for electronica raves, northern soul parties, pop and rock concerts and somber instrumental music. The seats sometimes feel a little bit on the cozy side, but the sound from anywhere in the venue is good. I would recommend the circle if possible though, particularly for an orchestral affair.
The Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra‘s concert series is in its 90th year, so they must be doing something right. The audience is primarily made up of connoisseurs of classical music who were clearly raised on it or grew to love it over time, but there is always room for new faces and younger members in the audience, and it is quite an experience to see an orchestra playing live for the first time. Each concert is quite different, this one being based on the compositions of British composers. The next show is on New Year’s eve at 2:45pm and is always the busiest of the year so book now to avoid disappointment.
Alfie Boe @ Brighton Centre – 9th December
Unfortunately, due to illness the concert was cancelled at the last minute. However, The venue still deserves a shout out for the varied programme that it provides. Admittedly, a lot of the music that is performed there is quite mainstream, but you need to be popular to sell out an over 5,000 capacity building to make it worthwhile playing there on your tour.
However, despite this the venue still has a part to play in supporting the local music scene, with Brighton-based singer-songwriter Jacko Hooper recently supporting James Blunt for his sell-out show at the Brighton Centre. Hopefully more of the acts performing there will handpick local supports as it’s a fantastic opportunity to perform to such a large hometown audience.
London Symphony Orchestra @ Barbican Hall, London – 11th December
Not in Brighton, but pretty easy to get to in London, The Barbican is a multi-purpose arts centre that features a theatre, cinema, galleries, exhibitions and of course the concert hall. I’ve only been to a few concerts there but they have all been sensational, and last night’s was no different. The film music of Alexander Desplat including suites from The King’s Speech, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and a previously unreleased extract from The Grand Budapest Hotel were all performed by the LSO and conducted by the man himself, with some visual accompaniment too. What a night!
There is a great view from the circle wherever you sit and you can join the Young Barbican scheme for free if you are under 25 and get cheap tickets (and sometimes even free tickets) for a number of concerts all year round. My ticket for the concert cost £10. I’d definitely recommend checking out the programme at the Barbican as most of London’s orchestras perform there regularly, and they are the best in the world! Have a day trip to London and have your mind blown in the amazing venue.