Lightspeed Champion, The Charlatans, Holy Fuck, Hospital Bombers, Charlie Calleja - Great Escape blog - Part 2

Laura Prior 19/05/2009

Apparently ONE band a day just isn't enough for a festival reviewer. Go figure. So, on Friday I decided to up the ante to prove I'm serious about this journalism game. I saw millions of bands - FIVE! Well, two full shows, one balcony gig and two we walked out of for being rubbish. I was still AA Gill.

Free saucers of a moderately famous energy drink sponsoring the Great Escape prompted my decision to "attend" a "secret" street gig by Charlie Calleja, an acoustic fella from London Town. It's no mean feat to get up by yourself and sing songs with just a guitar, but if you do...you'd better make it interesting, or I'll kill you!

"Cowboys without Horses" was meloncholic and quite lovely, but the rest was...well, maybe it was all the taurine, but it slipped into unremarkable crooner dirge. The Great Escape takes over the town, like a nice version of swine flu. Crappy music will make the plague intolerable, and it's up to the 45 good bands bands out of about 10, 383, 484 to provide the cure! There. That was a good analogy...

It's also about finding new blood. Amsterdam's Hospital Bombers have the bounding, pup-like enthusiasm and distinct lack of irony that could only make them Dutch. And good! Like a Europhile version of Dandy Warhols, it was silly, optimistic pop music in hostile opposition to the weather on offer outside. Echte goede tijden!

After long walks from Hector's House to Audio and then Concorde 2, it was nearly the end. Of our second day, and of life. I mean, I like droning, terrible, dog-pitched music as much as the next person, but for some reason, tonight Chew Lips and Chairlift were not met with the response they were hoping for - standing watching them until the end. In terms of the latter, we weren't the only people running out screaming after one (reeeeeallly long)...'song'?

But with great, good and poo bands respectively - The Charlatans, Holy Fuck and French sex pests The Teenagers - helpfully occupying lots of the various crowds at the festival, one band of my genuine must-see mental list was actually a breeze to get into. When Dev Hynes isn't wearing his trademark specs and furry hunting hat, he looks almost unrecognisable - in his Saturday set at Digital, sans glasses and in a black panama, Lightspeed Champion looked like a handsomer, seafaring, less dumpy Puff Daddy.

The ex-Testicle began with rousing fan-favourite "Galaxy of the Lost", before launching into a "Greatest Hits of Life". He literally played (I can't live, if living is) "Without You", "God Only Knows", "Sounds of Silence" and "La La Love You". It was so much FUN. The sole other LC original of the evening was a new song called "Marlene", which takes his Alice in Wonderland indie to greater heights and increases anticipation for this year's new album. He also broke into ferocious guitar solos over the classics, which somehow completely made sense. Not many UK bands in 2009 could bring the house down by finishing with a cover of "Sir Duke", and have it be on the right side of cheesy. Biffing.