Guernsey Live – Victoria Avenue – 03-04/05/08

The Escape Fall - Guernsey Live - 03/05/08
The Escape Fall on stage at Guernsey Live

Another one that came up recently on some social media memories and that I realised the original version has partially vanished from the BBC Guernsey website where it was originally posted – so here’s my look at the first fully commercial style festival of the current era in Guernsey, a sister to the Jersey equivalent, Guernsey Live in May 2008.

Day One

A mix of local and British talent took over the Victoria Avenue playing fields for the first day of Guernsey Live.

I have to admit that before today I had been sceptical about Guernsey Live, the latest addition to Guernsey’s music festival calendar, but by the time Editors left the stage at 10 o’clock I had been well and truly converted.

The Escape Fall - Guernsey Live - 03/05/08
James of The Escape Fall

Though there were only a few in the playing fields at Victoria Avenue for opening act Schillaci, the area already had the feeling of a full on festival, thanks, at least in part, to the very impressive main stage.

Borrowed from the Glastonbury festival, the stage, complete with a full lighting and sound rig and big screens, was a very impressive structure which somewhat dwarfed the days first band, though those who had shown up early seemed to appreciate Schillaci’s electronic rock and by the end of their set there seemed to a small but enthusiastic group calling out for more.

Second on was the first of the day’s local acts, emo-rockers The Escape Fall. Despite a few technical problems while setting up they were soon well on their way and the still small crowd seemed to be enjoying the set.

Playing all material taken from their new album, which was available for the first time today, the band took great advantage of the bigger stage, and singer Sam Meader really did his best to connect with the crowd over the camera and security area and for the most part seemed to succeed.

While some of the growing crowd seemed to dismiss the band instantly for being ‘emo,’ enough were on the band’s side to make this a successful start for today’s Guernsey acts.

My Last Victory - Guernsey Live - 03/05/08
Jack of My Last Victory

With more people slowly trickling into the arena it was soon time for My Last Victory to make their return to a Guernsey stage.

Having last played in Guernsey at last year’s Vale Earth Fair and now with a new guitarist in tow, My Last Victory started out with a bang and didn’t drop the energy for their whole 25 minutes.

Playing a mix of material from across their time as a band, today was probably one of the best performances I have ever seen the band give.

The addition of extra backing vocals from Josh Fletcher and Dave Tree’s second lead guitar have filled out the band’s sound brilliantly and, if the new song they played for us today is anything to go by, My Last Victory are continuing to grow into a truly epic metal force.

The last of today’s main stage local acts were increasingly unclassifiable rockers Teaspoonriverneck.

From the off the band were oozing confidence as they stormed through ‘Blonde Witch’ from their self titled debut record and between songs Erneck (aka Steve Lynch) seemed at ease talking to the crowd.

My Last Victory - Guernsey Live - 03/05/08
Dave and Josh of My Last Victory

The real treat of their set today though was the debut of three brand new songs that had never been heard before, at least never “on these shores” as Lynch put it.

Mixing various sounds, and in one case featuring vocals from Onriv (drummer Brett Stewart), the new material showed Teaspoonriverneck are never a band to stand still and today’s full on rendition of Eaten By The Devil, which closed the set, left the crowd wanting more.

The rest of the day was made up by bands from the UK and first came the electronic pop of Robots In Disguise, who, though they tried very hard and had a lot of energy seemed to only attract a crowd thanks to the presence of The Mighty Boosh’s Vince Noir, aka Noel Fielding, at the side of the stage.

Art Brut came next and put in a largely entertaining turn with their tongue in cheek indie rock.

With vocalist Eddie Argos featuring as an at times Vic Reeves like focal point the band were entertaining, though I’m not sure I could have taken much more of their, at times gratingly, ironic take on rock.

Teaspoonriverneck - Guernsey Live - 03/05/08
Steve of Teaspoonriverneck

Reverend And The Makers played some good tunes today which had a real dance-ability too them, it was just a shame that front man John McLure seemed to want to spend as much time telling us how short their set was as actually playing songs.

Scottish alternative rockers Biffy Clyro were up next, and as the sun set and the field was now nicely filled, they provided what was, in my opinion, the highlight of the day.

Their unique hybrid of driving rock and intricate musicianship drew the first major crowd reaction of the day, with “Biffy Clyro” chants from the crowd filling the space between their unique and thoroughly impressive songs.

Finally the main stage welcomed indie rockers Editors who did exactly what a festival headlining band should do which is get people moving while clearly being extremely talented musicians.

Biffy Clyro - Guernsey Live - 03/05/08
Biffy Clyro

Editors’ potent and atmospheric rock seemed to add an almost euphoric air to proceedings as the day’s biggest crowd waved their hands in the air and danced along before calling for an encore.

With the first day down things seemed to have gone well for Guernsey Live with a minimum of anti-social behaviour and an abundance of great music that looked set to continue into day two.

Day Two

The Enemy rounded off a great weekend’s entertainment but not before Guernsey showed some more of its musical talent on the second day of Guernsey Live.

Thee Jenerators - Guernsey Live - 04/05/08
Mark Le Gallez of Thee Jenerators

Upon my arrival at the Victoria Avenue playing fields for the second day of Guernsey Live on 4 May 2008 I was pleased to see a decent number of people were already there, despite the rain which, though light, was already falling on the island.

Nonetheless Thee Jenerators blasted onto stage in fine form at quarter to one and had the attention of almost everyone on site.

As ever Mark Le Gallez was a ball of energy, but today he had a much larger area to play with and was soon sliding, rolling and jumping about the stage as he and his band stormed through a set featuring a mix of old classics such as Burn Down The House and French Disco to brand new material like Sold My Soul To Rock ‘n’ Roll and Oi You!

The rest of the band also seemed to gain from the advanced set up as both Garrick Jones’ and Henry Castledine’s saxophone’s had their own mic which made them come through much clearer than I, at least, am used to. This really beefed up the band’s sound which had a few of us dancing and singing along.

Thee Jenerators - Guernsey Live - 04/05/08
Steve Lynch of Thee Jenerators

Sadly the band pushed their time a bit too much and were hastily ushered off stage before being able to finish Crazy Little Love Machine but this remained a triumph for the band and a great way to open the days music.

Second up today were Oxford based indie rockers Dial F For Frankenstein.

Being the youngest band on today’s bill didn’t seem to bother them as their take on indie drew a decent and appreciative crowd some of whom were calling for an encore long after the band had left the stage.

Guernsey’s own dark disco pioneers Gay Army were next to step onto what will, in a  few weeks, become ‘The Other Stage’ at Glastonbury and they were blazing a trail with their synth infused sound from the off.

Gay Army’s sound is always a complex one and that often causes issues in hearing the various elements that make it up. Today however it all came through perfectly clear and this seemed to spur the band on to possibly the best performance I have ever seen them give.

This rubbed off on the still growing crowd as well who were lapping up the bands already popular tunes.

Guernsey Live next welcomed a band from that other island to the south, Jersey, in the form of The Author, though today’s show was put in severe jeopardy thanks to the band’s instruments being damaged on their trip over and their front man breaking a rib yesterday!

Gay Army - Guernsey Live - 04/05/08
Rolls of Gay Army

However the band came on in full force and were soon well into the swing of things with their synth and keyboard supplemented indie going down very well with the crowd which already seemed to be bigger than yesterday’s at this time.

Pete And The Pirates were the first of today’s UK acts and the opening chords of their first song brought a rush of people heading for the main stage and they were soon dancing along to the light hearted indie pop which was being provided.

Despite the rain Pete And The Pirates kept the good-natured atmosphere that has marked the whole event going.

As the on/off rain of the afternoon seemed to have finally abated a group of three men clad in tweed suits and shirts and ties hit the stage in the form of the witty and entertaining Young Knives.

These three young men from Loughborough (including the fabulously named House Of Lords on bass) provided one of the surprise highlights of the weekend with their upbeat and hugely entertaining brand of indie rock.

The Enemy - Guernsey Live - 04/05/08
The Enemy

The evening’s entertainment started with Guillemots whose mix of sounds and instruments added a sonic circus like feel to proceedings.

Suiting their time slot perfectly with some nice relaxed numbers as the crowd seemed to be in the mood to relax at tea time they then built up the energy throughout the set and prepared everyone well for the day’s final two bands.

The full on festival atmosphere continued to grow as The Futureheads ran through a set of their own brand of uplifting rock which combined with the band’s easy between song banter that managed the rare feat of not sounding like the same old things they say at every show.

This got a large crowd dancing at the front and to my eyes it looked like the festival’s second day had attracted a much larger crowd than the first as the sun set and people began waving their hands to the music.

Everyone seemed in the mood to celebrate as headliners The Enemy hit the stage and, though they only played a comparatively short set, still went down a storm with their take on brit-rock.

The Enemy - Guernsey Live - 04/05/08
The Enemy

The only recently announced band proved themselves a great festival headliner as they had seemingly the whole crowd dancing and singing along.

The Enemy’s performance was a great way to close what had been a fantastic weekend’s entertainment that brought a true full on mainstream festival feeling to Guernsey’s shores.

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