Vale Earth Fair at Rocquaine Regatta 2014 – BLAKALASKA, The Space Pirates of Rocquaine, Ray and the Guns and Toby Falla – 02/08/14

The Space Pirates of Rocquaine get busking
The Space Pirates of Rocquaine get busking

Every year the Rocquaine Regatta combines fun beach and sea based events and competitions with something of a sense of old Guernsey as it fills the beach and road at the bay for the first Saturday in August.

In recent years, part of this has become an evening of live music organised by the Vale Earth Fair Collective in the field opposite Fort Grey.

After last year’s wash out the sun was shining and the beach was still packed as Toby Falla took to the Earth Fair’s stage and, over the course of his set, the field began to fill up with people relaxing and enjoying the evening sun.

Toby Falla
Toby Falla

Toby played a set of acoustic covers bringing in the likes of James Morrison and Ed Sheeran that was a perfect way to start the evening’s music as it was nicely unchallenging but confidently delivered. As the set went on a few started to join in with his encouragement to sing along or clap along and in all it was a very well delivered set from this new face.

Unfortunately, Toby was the first, and certainly not the last, performer to suffer from sound troubles and, while it wasn’t too bad for his set and it was clear the guys from the Earth Fair were doing their utmost to sort things out, the technical difficulties would become increasingly noticeable as the event went on.

Ray & The Guns upped the pace and energy with their set of rockabilly infused rock ‘n’ roll that got going with a nice bit of Imelda May and carried on in a similar vein.

Once again the highlight of the Ray & The Guns set came in the form of Nick Dodd’s guitar which had the appropriate drive, fuzz and twang to make a really authentic classic rock ‘n’ roll sound. That’s not to discredit the rest of the band of course, and as the set went on they had youngsters up and dancing and many heads nodding and feet and fingers tapping around the field.

Ray and the Guns
Ray and the Guns

While their sound may be some of the politest rock ‘n’ roll on offer, it has just enough edge to make it work really well, especially at shows like this.

Two songs into The Space Pirates of Rocquaine’s ‘homecoming’ set the technical issues from PA got to such a point that it all but stopped working so the band unplugged and busked through a few songs in the front of the stage with people gathered in tight to listen.

With the gear on stage back up and running, though still a bit crackly, the Pirates got back up to full strength and ran through a somewhat truncated set that pulled in all of their most popular songs and this, combined with the energy their busking had provided, kept the crowd rolling as many stayed at the front dancing throughout.

Lee of BLAKALASKA
Lee of BLAKALASKA

BLAKALASKA rounded off the day’s music and were something of a mismatch to the rest of the acts on offer with their heavy dance-rock sound. That said they didn’t let that phase them as they launched into their performance with more energy than I remember seeing from their previous incarnation, Bright_Lights (with the exception of their set at last year’s Vale Earth Fair).

New vocalist Lee Rosete has certainly added a new energy to the band as, as well as having a great voice, she is the enthusiastic and engaging presence on stage that the band really needed.

While it wasn’t as bad as during The Space Pirate set, there were again a few sound issues that caused the bass and some of the synth sounds get lost in fizzing and crackling noises and the encroaching darkness and chill in the air did lead to quite a few of the audience heading off as the band played.

That said BLAKALASKA put in a good performance and did get some dancing to their heavy, insistent beats which once again showcased drummer Barney Bean excellently and rounded off a good evening’s music – just a bit of a shame about the technical issues.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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