Growing up in Edinburgh, there was a long standing tradition where people gathered for New Year at the Tron church in the High St where the church bells would ring in the New Year.
It happened organically and had a real sense of community.
But of course someone somewhere realised that they were missing a trick to make money, and before you knew it, the Edinburgh Hogmanay party in Princess St became a heavily publicised, sponsored event.
Now on the plus side of course it meant that that you now got globally recognised acts such as Blondie playing live, which of course is a good thing, but on the other side of the coin it also created a big dividing line between those doing the entertaining and those being entertained, needless to say, Debbie Harry didn’t pop out for a pint with the crowd afterwards.
As a result, whilst on paper it looked light years away from singing Auld Lang Syne with a couple of cans with a crowd of strangers, in reality it had all become a bit soulless and fell a bit flat.
Music has generally been getting more corporate in recent years, with the gulf between million selling artists playing stadiums, and talented local bands playing small pubs and clubs becoming ever wider.
Does it matter? Well, yes I think so – music brings people together, makes you happy, makes you think, makes you dance. And it’s at it’s best when you can connect with the artists.
So if a lot of people aren’t going to pubs and clubs to check out local bands – how about taking the bands to the people and give them a taste of what they are missing? Show them that a band doesn’t have to be a household name or a pile of gold disks to be entertaining.
The Bernard Place Block Party was the brainchild of promoter Tristian O’ Brien, whom I’ve worked with in the past, so I knew that he has a knack of putting together stellar lineups, and today was certainly no exception. He put together a musically diverse line-up of quality artists ensuring there was something for everyone. I certainly couldn’t fault any of the artists.
He created the event in association with The Hartington – a buzzing local community pub with a nice beer garden and a even a small play area for children, the day was a resounding success. After all, what could be better than a few beers whilst watching live bands and a DJ performing in the street, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in laid-back Brighton off the beaten track?
Their food was also really impressive.
With Latitude festival taking place the same weekend over in Suffolk, it undoubtedly took a lot of music fans away and reduced potential turnout, nevertheless an enthusiastic audience started to build as MoonDrive71 (whom Tristian plays keys for), Fukushima Dolphin, The RumBoogie AllStars, The Breezies, School’s Out, The Decadent Dayze all did their thing, and finally DJ Afrocat had everyone dancing to round off the afternoon perfectly.
Events like this are a reminder of just how much live music can lift the spirits – something surely we all need after more than a year of the pandemic.
A quick chat with some of the neighbours for whom the event was literally on their doorstep showed that it was really well received.
Fair to say, everyone had a great time, lets hope this is the first of many Bernard Place Block Party’s, and it inspires other promoters to do something similar.
Rating: 5/5 Perfect
[Incidentally, I mentioned a band called Skating Polly to a few people I was talking to, a band so good that after seeing them live in 2019 I decided to got back into promoting! I’m hoping to come down to their Brighton Show at The Hope & Ruin on 22nd March 2022. Live Music Pix is co-promoting their Liverpool show on Friday 25th March 2022 at Jimmy’s Liverpool. You can check out their music videos here.]