Beach Break Live 2012 review
'An event brimming with ideas'
Photographer:Al De Perez
Chris Eustace - 18 June 2012
When your festival has a beach, the last thing you want is for it to be chucking it down. Unfortunately, as South Wales’ Beach Break Live gets underway, that’s what we’re faced with. Luckily, rather than bailing out, the 20,000 strong student crowd are ready to party regardless.
The enthusiasm obviously rubs off on the performers, and Random Impulse (8/10) and his band are the first to give the Friday Main Stage crowd something to jump around to, the guitar-toting London singer/MC taking advantage of an outbreak of sunshine to start the pogoing to ‘Overload’ and ‘Put It on My Card’.
The rain returns for Clement Marfo & The Frontline (8.5/10) but the sparse crowd at the start of their set soon swells as the seven-piece play as if they’re headlining Wembley, and the likes of ‘Champion’ might get them there in the end.
Delilah’s slow-burning numbers mean she takes time to connect with a crowd up for carnage, but a fizzing version of ‘Go’ gives them what they want in the end. (7.5/10).
Maverick Sabre (8/10) gets a huge crowd despite the lure of the England match being screened elsewhere onsite, and he plays a blinder, starting off with soulful crooners like ‘Used To Have it All’ before upping the tempo with skittering set highlight ‘Let Me Go’.
Chase & Status (8.5/10) were never going to slip up in such a setting – having won over the metalheads at Download last week, they’re welcomed like conquering heroes here. Plan B’s head hovers ominously on screens for ‘Pieces’ and ‘End Credits’. Delilah returns for ‘Time’, but its ‘Let You Go’ and ‘Blind Faith’ that get the most love. A .5 off for the iffy cover of ‘Killing In The Name’ though.
Nero (7.5/10) have a killer light show in the tent, and they sit in a booth around it all like evil dubstep geniuses. To the frustration of some, they take their time getting to the likes of ‘Promises’ and ‘Me & You’, but when they do, it’s explosive.
The rain has returned by Saturday lunchtime – even Ghostpoet’s equipment has a plastic cover on to match his audience. As it drives down, ‘Survive It’ proves a apt festival anthem (8/10).
Scroobius Pip (8.5/10) ignores demands to down the bottle of red he’s brought with him, and the hard-hitting likes of ‘Astronaut’ and ‘Let Em Come’ do the job, with Pip crowdsurfing away triumphantly at the end.
We’re clearly in the presence of a Proper Pop Star next, as a dapper Labrinth’s name is lit in blue neon behind him, and while there’s some padding to the set, once the hits start coming he has the crowd in the palm of his hand, with ‘Earthquake’ nearly causing one. (8/10)
Wretch 32 (8/10) might come across as a bit languid on record but live he’s a bundle of energy, with the purist-baiting 'Unorthodox’ and ‘Blur’, plus a shuddering ‘Traktor’ much too fun for anyone to complain.
Following Chase & Status’ titanic set the night before, DJ Fresh (7.5/10) feels a bit underpowered, with a lack of familiar songs save for ‘Hot Right Now’ and ‘Louder’ meaning he and his band have to dip into samples and covers before unveiling the big hitters.
With so many of the acts on the bill having followed Dizzee Rascal’s wake into the charts, it’s appropriate that he should headline – and he wastes no time in reminding them all that he’s still the one to beat.
There’s fireworks, smoke bombs, and a masterclass in how to move from grime – ‘Heavy’, 'Sirens’ and a ‘Boy In Da Corner’ trio of ‘I Luv U’, “Fix Up, Look Sharp’ and ‘Jus’ A Rascal’ are all dispatched early - to peerless pop, with ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and ‘You Got the Dirtee Love’ sending everyone wild. ‘Bonkers’ gets played twice to finish things off in a suitably gonzo fashion (9/10), while the hardcore are out in force for Benga (8/10) and his new live show in the tent later on.
On Sunday the other star attraction - the sunshine - finally makes an appearance, and what a difference it makes.
As punters head down the beach to watch the wakeboarding, chill next to the Wreck stage or just go for a dip, today is the day we can finally enjoy the festival in the way the organisers intended, with the Olympic-themed Celtic Games in full swing and some festivalgoers even taking up the challenge of eating sheep’s testicles in the name of charity in the Bollocks To Poverty tent.
Back on the Main Stage, Irish comedy hip-hopers Abandoman (8/10) are hilarious, freestyling using the contents of audience members’ pockets as inspiration and conducting a battle rap via the medium of Connect 4. A must-see.
Essex soul boys The Milk (7.5/10), get things moving, the summery ‘Chip The Kids’ and new single ‘Everytime We Fight’ the pick of their Stax-meets-Modern R&B sound. Later on, Dry the River (8/10) continue their ascent, the soaring chorus of ‘New Ceremony’ and a rattling ‘Lion’s Den’ likely calling cards to even bigger things.
Ben Howard (8.5/10) gets his set cut a bit short, but it doesn’t stop it being one of the best of the weekend. ‘The Fear’ becomes even more powerful live, and ‘The Wolves’ inspires a suitably howling singalong.
The Maccabees (8.5/10) have become one of Britain’s best bands on the quiet, but a Greatest Hits set here brings it out for all to see, a scratchy ‘Latchmere’ rubbing shoulders with an anthemic ‘Love You Better’and a compelling ‘Pelican’.
With everyone still up for a dance, Friendly Fires (8/10) are the perfect way to close the big stage out, with ‘Hawaiian Air’, ‘Live Those Days Tonight’ and ‘Paris’ providing one last rush before everyone scatters to the tents in search of bass.
Even if things hadn’t improved weather-wise, the attitude of the crowd and some top-notch performances would still have meant Beach Break 2012 scored high, but it would have been a shame if an event brimming with ideas like this one hadn’t been able to fully show them off. Here’s to more sun down on the beach next year.
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