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Festival review: Beach Break Live 2011

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And as the rain soon drenches some 20,000 UK students you could hardly call this small music festival on the beaches of South Wales ‘Benicassim’. Not that a bit of blustering wind and showers will stop this bunch of punters though. With such boisterous energy and enthusiasm you’d forget you were in such a lucid and remote part of the Welsh countryside, although the silence from the no-show Gabriella Aplin might say otherwise.

Tinie TempahSo, queue Yasmin whose upbeat and heartfelt soul brings a touch of classy funk to Wales. Then there’s Ed Sheeran, a firey headed acoustic maestro who knows how to get the crowd going. The Sheeran-ator we might as well call him as his half human acoustic ability and half electronic looping creates the illusion that there’s more than one Ed on stage. Ed number one – check. Ed number two – check. Ed number three – check…and so on. The rendition of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ finally brings things to a minimum showing that one Ed is just as good as several at once. Finally, Tinie Tempah closes the first night wowing the crowd with a charismatic and confident attitude. Note to newspaper headline seekers. Single ‘Pass Out’ does indeed cause a mass pass out like Mr Tempah were a leader of a Charles Manson-esque suicide cult.

Early the next day, Frankie and the Heartstrings carry proceedings on in flamboyant fashion. Frankie Francis is exceptionally charming whilst he prances around, hair flopping about as if he were a young David Bowie. The melodies of ‘Hunger’ build up perfectly into a perfect summer pop song whilst We Are Scientists’ ‘In Action’ kick starts a surge of excited abandon into everyone and it’s not until the energetic sways of thrashing chords in ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ that shows a crowd who are unable to keep the promise of the song title.

But none tonight are as confident as Example who before could not get enough of the cameras backstage transfers this boldness to the stage via the likes of ‘Changed the Way You Kissed Me’ which simply chimes and shimmers with a glamorous dark austerity.

None as dark as White Lies however who’s anthemic post-punk rattles through an otherwise disappointing small crowd. ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ is a commandeer of the troops, snare drums rattling in unison leading the march and ‘Death’ is the main battle, thick distorted guitars leading the battalion that is the mosh pit.

To bring proceedings to a much more lucid note on the final day, Newton Faulkner lull’s the crowd into a calm state via ‘Dream Catch Me’ whilst his cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Tear Drop’ adds a sombre warmth to the otherwise sinister original.

Katy B brings a taster of the forthcoming  headliners as ‘Katy on a Mission’ hypnotises the crowd into matching nods, the synths just sailing through the crowd with their warbling ambrosia.

Finally Magnetic Man brings the weekend to an end as’ I Need Air’s’ dominating bass literally sends shattering earthquakes through Wales. The Welsh Valleys are desolated even more as ‘Perfect Stranger’ shudders everyone into ecstasy, albeit without Katy B providing live vocals strangely enough. During the weekend both Mark Ronson and Zane Lowe share the same sentiments of the Beach Break crowd being the best they’ve had all weekend. From the energy seen through the weekend, it’s an opinion that rings true through all the Welsh valleys.

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