With the sun blazing down and a cooling breeze blowing, the beach and seafront road were packed on the afternoon on Saturday 25th July 2015 for the annual Rocquaine Regatta.
Once the sandcastle competitions, stilt walking races, tug o’war and everything else were done the attention moved to the field opposite Fort Grey where, as has become custom, the Vale Earth Fair had set up their stage for live, musical entertainment.
After a bit of a delay to sort out some technical issues (another thing that seems to be traditional about this particular show) The Space Pirates of Rocquaine were first on stage.
Always going down well in their spiritual home, this was no different as the six-piece delivered their usual energetic and exuberant mix of folk, pop and rock.
With an atmosphere similar to their sets at past Sark Folk Festivals the field was busy with families relaxing in the sun. The band, though clearly struggling through more technical issues, didn’t let this deter them with their songs feeling custom-made for this kind of event as Lisa Vidamour was as mischievous and engaging a presence at the front of the stage as always.
Once again a highlight of their set for me came in the form of their new song about the Hangman’s Inn, while the haunting Prosperity and poppy numbers like Canon Des Iles were equally as enjoyable.
Hot on the heels of the Pirates came young solo performer Toby Falla.
Armed with an acoustic guitar (an Ed Sheeran signature model) and a loop station he delivered a set layering up various ‘loops’ of both guitar and vocals to create renditions of some great songs from the likes of K.T. Tunstall, Eminem and Ed Sheeran, along with a particularly interesting take on folk number Wayfaring Stranger.
For me, somewhat surprisingly, the most effective parts of Toby’s set were the more hip hop inflected moments, along with his evidently well-practiced and slick loop work.
Reaching a crescendo with a striking Ed Sheeran cover, including an impressive bit of MCing, Toby received a big reaction from the now packed field, but I couldn’t help thinking it would be nice to hear more of his own personality in the music and performance.
Visiting the island from France for the Town Carnival, busking band Les Matous (The Tomcats) struck an amusingly, stereotypically, French image on stage – about the only thing missing was a string of onions – but delivered a set of fun, cheeky songs and tunes that had the crowd laughing along.
With broken English between the songs, some amusingly basic choreography and some of the best live spoon playing I’ve ever seen (admittedly possibly the only live spoon playing I’ve ever seen) the aging septet brought something different that, even if not everyone quite got it, went down well with most and had a few dancing and jigging along.
As the sun sank behind ‘the Cup and Saucer’ a reduced version of the Ukuladeez took to the stage. With just Mimi, Jojo and Emily, accompanied by stand in Ukuladee-boy Adam on cajon, their sound was certainly a bit more stripped back than normal, but none-the-less continued the upbeat fun feelings of the previous acts.
Swinging Brick from the new Cosmic Tea Party EP and Heat Magazine provided a couple of highlights, as a fair number had stayed in the field for the Ladeez despite the cloud coming over and things getting a bit chilly.
As I walked back along the coast road while they still played, the Ukuladeez brought the night to end in an appropriately relaxed and lighthearted way that typifies the whole Rocquaine Regatta event.