13.8.06

Fort Rox


Fort Rox, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

I'm not one for festivals - I like my home comforts too much - but Newhaven Fort was an inspired location for the first Fort Rox, curated by British Sea Power. The prospect of seven bands for 10 quid, from noon to 6pm on a Saturday afternoon was very appealing - the only downer was that rain had been forecast for the south east! I arrived as Jacob's Stories were half way through their set: a beardy bloke on guitar and a lady cellist Abi Fry (who joined BSP later). I liked what I heard very much, and later bought the CD from the merchanise arch (the only CD for sale!). The shop also sold BSP badges and wonderful silk-screened posters by BRAG (British Rock Artists Group), a collective inspired by the gig posters exhibition in the Festival. Next up were local band Charlottefield, who made a bit of a racket, then The Research, a tuneful low-fi threesome (two girls and a boy) from Wakefield, who I absolutely loved. Nick arrived at this point, an hour late. I'd already been disappointed by my visit to the bar - the only beer on offer was pissy Carlsberg in a plastic bottle for £3.50. Also spotted Erica and Melita who were on their way to the VIP area (where beer was also £3.50 a bottle) and Nick's ATP friends Georgina and Michelle who were on the same train as me but I didn't properly recognise.

We then decided to take advantage of a one-quid tour of the ramparts, which was far more extensive than I'd imagined. We went right up to windy precipitous heights above the cliffs overlooking the Channel with fine views of Seaford Head to inspect the gun emplacements, under the expert guidance of a French lady called Francoise. From the hills above the fort, we heard the wonderful Scottish songs of My Latest Novel, which came as an unexpected pleasure. Back on terra firma, it still hadn't rained and in fact was sunny off and on (and I hadn't packed a sun hat!). But during The Duke Spirit, a kind of 70s-feel band with a blonde lady harmonica player, a fine drizzle started to descend. Excitement was mounting for the headliners, with women in 1940s outfits distributing home-made fabric flags and twigs to the awaiting hoards, including the Mayor (favourite band Staus Quo) and Mayoress of Newhaven. BSP didn't disappoint, even with the absense of Eamon, gone to The Brakes full time. No twigs or birds on the dark stage, but they were joined towards the end of the hour-long set by a Great Bear. Things started to get a bit out of hand and Who-like at the end, resulting in Noble breaking his guitar! A great day out, polished off by a welcome couple of pints of Harvey's in the garden of a public house by the docks called The Ark. Next year Lout Promotions, please install comfy chairs for the oldies, and a barrel of Harvey's in the bar and it'll be perfect!

The band I missed was The Honeycuts from nearby Lewes. They are all on MySpace, so make up your own mind!

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