It’s something I’ve said before but something that seems to feel truer every year that, on Guernsey’s Liberation Day, amongst the various forms of celebration and commemoration it’s music that brings it all together and allows us to feel truly free.
From the hymns at religious services to the ‘Proms-like’ concert at St James to outdoor shows everywhere from The Last Post to The Parrot, its music that seems to tie the day together.
With that in mind, while I may have taken it a little easier this year than some, I made my Liberation Day a two centre one starting in the mid afternoon with LibRock, the now annual live music part of the so-called ‘official’ celebrations in St Peter Port, in the afternoon followed by heading to The Mariners in the evening.
The young performer played a selection of her own songs, largely in the area of a kind of haunting acoustic balladry that draws on influences from gothic and heavier sounds but rendered as something lighter in this context.
While she still has understandable rough edges Kiya has developed greatly over the last twelve months into one of the more interesting young musicians while becoming an established part of the so-called ‘scene’.
While slightly less experienced than Kiya and therefore slightly more nervous, Imogen Mitchenall delivered a good performance with a good voice particularly and showed the kind of raw talent that SOPM are nurturing.
Elisha Horsepool presented a more poppy style and was another great new voice, in this case, one that I felt the simple acoustic setting didn’t do justice to, so I look forward to hearing more from her in the future.
The last of the young performers, Rachel Dawson, took things in a more 60s folky style with covers of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, amongst others.
This rounded off the showcase with a lighter sound both vocally and with her guitar playing, making for a nice contrast and again showing the range and quality of young performers beginning to appear on stages around the island.
The young talent continued next with two young bands playing short sets.
First was Isle Stone who’ve I’ve had the opportunity to see a few times at Sound Guernsey shows and they made a lasting impression in front of this wider crowd.
Frontman Reuben Esterhuizen has really grown in confidence while lead guitarist Charlie Stevens has really got the hang of both sounding and looking like a lead player. Once again it was their cover of The Stooges’ Search & Destroy that was the highlight.
Winners of the Thirst music school battle of the bands, Dead Steady, were up next and continued the impressive performances by youngsters with another tight set of covers from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Guns ‘N’ Roses and, particularly impressive for me, Black Sabbath’s NIB.
With a strong confidence, particularly from frontman Beau Moffat, Dead Steady owned the big stage in way one wouldn’t expect for such a young group and I look forwarding to seeing them all develop going forward.
With a good crowd having been attracted by the preceding bands and as the evening neared (and the beer tent opened) The Space Pirates Of Rocquaine took to the stage.
While not their smoothest performance, they were missing mandolin player Tim Corbett, they still started to get the crowd the dancing and the sheer good-natured fun in their songs carried them through the rougher moments.
That said they still had a few great moments, particularly on Coming Home which remains a tremendous song, and they seemed to warm the crowd up a treat for what was to come.
It was after the Pirates set that I headed north to the Bridge and The Mariners where a couple of bands were continuing the celebrations in a slightly warmer, setting (this is a British summer after all).
As I arrived Clameur De Haro had just started their set that ranged from ‘novelty covers’ (their words not mine, honest) to their own lighthearted songs that didn’t take long to encourage a few down onto the ‘dancefloor’ and get moving.
While the covers provided some sing along fun and new additions Sunshine Of Your Love and Blitzkrieg Bop were welcome additions, for me it was their song Iron Pushang that was the highlight of the set before they closed on the, somewhat suitable for Liberation Day, Beanjar.
While the fireworks were going off outside, The Recks warmed up for their run of shows launching debut album The Beast From The Sea with some fireworks of their own as they played one of their best sets in sometime.
Feeding off the energy of the crowd who, as they began, had filled the dance floor in anticipation, they perfectly balanced their unique raw energy with their delivery, creating a big atmosphere in the relatively small venue.
With highlights coming in the form of Parisian Stupor, recent single Train Wreck and a particularly crazed version of Valentine they delivered an encore Porcupine and the now extended version of Lights that descended into tremendous chaotic noise to close the set.
Even with seeing only a small fraction of the music on offer across the day it was clear that once again live music was the heart of the day’s celebrations and with the freedom of expression that comes with such a range, it’s fair to say it’s hard not to feel liberated and free with such a soundtrack.