Review: Friday @ Beach Break Live
As the wind and rain howled and hammered across South Wales, Pembrey Country Park opened its (flood)gates to the UK’s students for the sixth annual Beach Break Live.
The idyllic, sun-drenched pictures that adorned the festival’s website became a distant memory as the reality of the Great British summer kicked in. Sunglasses were ditched and rain ponchos were donned, yet with over 300 performers across nine stages to look forward to, as well as a host of extreme sports, team challenges, beach games and workshops, the dodgy weather front wasn’t going to dampen spirits.
As the wind gave a ferocious platform for the kite-surfers at the adjoining Pembrey Beach, Friday saw the main festival site provide a crowd-pleasing line-up that cut through the downpour. Staying undercover, I headed to the Chai Wallahs tent; home of a diverse selection of up-and-coming acts from the worlds of folk, hip hop, reggae and more besides. A brace of artists helped to warm up the crowd, with Texan-raised, London-based Rodney Branigan providing a passionate set of rousing melodies whilst dextrously plucking two guitars simultaneously, before Heymoonshaker added their distinctive, confident blend of beatbox and blues.
As the afternoon drizzled into evening, the Dell Main Stage provided more mainstream live acts that gradually pulled in punters from the comfort of their tents. Rapper-cum-guitar playing front man Random Impulse showed glimmers of promise with the punchy, anthemic Overload but the rest of his set was somewhat formulaic and lacked enough diversity to push it into the memorable. In comparison, South London MC Clement Marfo & The Frontline impressed with his more dynamic sound, with stand out tune Champion reflecting the motivational lyrics found throughout his performance, fit for this Olympic summer.
With the crowd stoked and ready for the shindig to continue, Delilah didn’t quite make the grade as she rattled through her underwhelming set of pop songs; based on this performance she may struggle to find success in a market saturated with female vocalists. But then stepped up Friday’s main stage highlight, Hackney’s rising star Maverick Sabre, whose slick cross of R’n’B and nostalgia-licked soul made for a classy live performance. Dubbed as the “male Amy Winehouse” by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, Sabre’s emotive, gritty vocals and politicised lyrics sets him out as one to watch for the future - hit single Let Me Go and Sometimes from 2011’s album Lonely Are The Brave going down a treat with Beach Breakers.
Rounding off main stage affairs for the night were Chase & Status, playing live with their club-friendly mix of drum ‘n’ bass, breakbeat and dubstep which poured across Pembrey Country Park as night fell. The string of hits played included Against All Odds, End Credits and Let You Go and although at times the overproduction of recorded tracks meant the quality of the live sound was rendered almost colourless in comparison, the set was on the whole one of contagious energy and flair. They led the way for the late-night DJs, including the hugely popular Nero, to get dem kids movin’ into Saturday morning in the cavernous Merlin’s Forest and the sweaty Ghetto Palace. Cold, wet and having busted all my available dance moves many hours previously, I headed to bed.
Reports from Saturday and Sunday coming soon.
- Preview: Beach Break Live
- TheSprout Meets Huw Stephens
- Review: Sunday @ Beach Break Live
- Live & Unsigned @ Beach Break Live
- Review: Saturday @ Beach Break Live