Upload Festival CI: Take 2 – St James Concert And Assembly Hall – 03/04/21

The Mike Meinke Band
The Mike Meinke Band

Three months or so ago I was at the cafe at St James enjoying an evening of acoustic performances from a range of artists for the first part of the first, in person, Upload Festival CI that had originally begun during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown.

Then, the following morning, while preparing for the second day of the event it was announced that four new cases of the virus had been identified and the island was going into another sudden lockdown with all events, obviously, cancelled.

While the organisers did their best to pull tougher a somewhat truncated online version with some streamed performances along with the revival of Let’s Get Quizzical and Stretchy’s Damaged Disco, it wasn’t quite what had been planned.

Tanji
Tanji

Now though, with a month of no new cases of COVID-19 on the island, lockdown has been lifted and (following a bit of a Damaged Disco warm up the night before) the Upload Festival restarted where it had left off with 12 hours of live music in St James’ main concert hall.

Given the circumstances this is going to be a slightly different review to usual as throughout the day it became clear that, whatever was being played on stage, it was simply great to be experiencing live music once again, whatever form it was, in which made the day something of a celebration of that, rather by intent or not.

The afternoon then was made up of a series of solo and duo performances.

Adam and Steve
Adam and Steve

A new performer, to me, kicked things off, Tanji (along with Alex Sarchet on guitar) who’s voice provided an early highlight and I look forward to hearing more from her, before some well sung but too close to karaoke (for my taste) hits from Michael Kirk-Hamon.

Dan Turian was a name I’d seen around a few of the open mic nights over past months (before lockdown of course) but hadn’t properly seen live and his mix of covers and originals on electric guitar added his own slant to the usual singer-songwriter stuff.

More solo singer-songwriter fare was next from regular busker and open mic performer Dave Wheeler, but since I last saw him play he’s come on in leaps and bounds with a great set here, highlighted by a take on Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Under The Bridge.

Tom Relf
Tom Relf

New duo Adam & Steve (aka Daniel Hollingsworth and Joe Allsopp) were up next and while their My Chemical Romance covers went down well with fans of the band in attendance (myself, of course, included) it was their closing song, an original penned by Joe, that was a real highlight carrying a proper emotional heft in his delivery.

Dubbed a ‘bass poet’ following his appearances at The Vault open mic night, this was my first opportunity to see Tom Relf doing his solo bass thing.

Camille Brouard
Camille Brouard

While always fascinating at its best moments, when he let the music do the talking away from over explanation, it brought a kind of sci-fi soundtrack feel to proceedings and did something different to certainly anyone else on the Guernsey music scene at the moment.

After a raft of newer performers the next couple were far more familiar faces.

First was Lydia Pugh who brought her usual deft soulful, jazzy pop blues to the show before Mick Le Huray’s classic folk, including a few local references thrown into the mix to keep it interesting.

Elliot Albert Orchard
Elliot Albert Orchard

The early evening portion of the festival saw Camille Brouard and her trusty ukulele take to the stage with a some enjoyable versions of tracks that contrasted a melancholy edge with the unequivocally jovial instrument.

After having not just his appearance at the first run at this festival back in January move online, but his most recent single launch too, Elliot Albert Orchard was clearly excited to be back on stage for the first time since last year.

Armed with just his acoustic guitar he delivered a stripped back set to his now familiar high standards and it was at this point that it really struck me just how great it was to be hearing live music again.

The early part of the day was rounded off by Ramblin’ Nick Mann.

Kiya Ashton
Kiya Ashton

After a ‘warm up’ set busking earlier in the afternoon the DIY bluesman did his best to show off the new PA at St James with his range of home made instruments and lo-fi amplifier… as ever his collection of self penned songs played on, at most, four strings, had a strong charm and were greatly enjoyable even if slightly at odds with the environment.

The evening portion of the festival got going with main organiser Kiya Ashton who continued to show the development in her playing and performing that matches her development in event organising.

Lula And Gene
Lula And Gene

As ever she showed her strong link with her fans and the audience in general giving an element of fun to her often more somber and emotional songs.

The energy really jumped up a few notches and Lula And Gene took to the stage bringing their two piece indie bass and drums sound to the show and capturing the imagination of many with it from the off.

Bolt and Geoghegan
Bolt and Geoghegan

In their relatively short time together the duo have become a regular highlight and once again were here as they showed how they’ve become even more gelled as a unit while they make the songs they play their own.

A new duo to me changed the tone somewhat as we got a burst of more traditional style folk from Bolt and Geoghegan.

New to me as a pair their combination of fiddle and a kind of accordion (along with the spoons) did a great job of keeping the energy up, albeit in a rather different way, with a series of jigs, reels and the like (apologies to the folk purists) that were new to me and helped show the variety this festival has to offer.

Yas
Yas

Having undergone a couple of line up changes since we last saw them (and a subsequent slight name change) I wondered how the shift would effect Yas, but it was clear the changes (including the addition of mandolin, tin whistle and more at various points) did nothing to diminish their unique West African fusion sound making for a set that drew the audience to the front and got them dancing and singing along from the off.

Fresh from their first recording sessions, the day was rounded off by The Mike Meinke Band, featuring Mike along with bass player Charlie Holmes and drummer Squirrel and they continued the energetic atmosphere with their mix of acoustic rock, blues and grunge, with a hint of Mike’s evident interest in hip hop and world music seen in other bands.

The Mike Meinke Band
The Mike Meinke Band

Their set kept the dancefloor busy until the end as the second day of the Upload Festival acted as a great way for St James to open back up fully following the lockdown while highlighting a genuine range of performers, both new and more familiar, from a range of styles so, while I hope there’s not the need for the lockdown shows again, it would be great to see the festival continue giving a view of Guernsey’s always vibrant music community to a wider world while providing a great live show for those of us attending in person.

3 thoughts on “Upload Festival CI: Take 2 – St James Concert And Assembly Hall – 03/04/21

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: