Brighton’s always been brimming with a sparky bunch of performers. Bars, pubs, and the revolution of pop-up venues are crammed with a tasty smorgasbord of set lists. A walk down St James’ street will waft sounds of sleazy jazz at one end and punkily vibrate your fingertips at the other. And whilst the city is haunted by the odd cranes bull dozing and demolishing, the music scene is gaining ever more momentum. The tricky part is finding performance spaces that are open and not distasteful to pinched purses in the middle of an industrial refurb. So, please may I introduce, the Brighton Dome’s nifty solution with SPECTRUM: Winter Special, a returning event that flaunts the city’s well-endowed musical talent in flirtatious 25 minute slots. This round of SPECTRUM was held in The Brighton Museum as it’s usual location - the Dome’s Studio - is under construction. In the true spirit of make do and mend, the performances unfolded in the museum’s nooks and crannies, against a back drop of taxidermy turtles, 19th century oil paintings and other curiosities.
Check out this juicy SPECTRUM line up to warm your cockles and melt your goddamn cynical heart: So first up on this musical pilgrimage was Thomas White from The Fiction Aisle, who draws out the romantic rumblings of jazz, glowing underneath an indie lampshade. Following on was M. Butterfly, a dapper country singer sporting a cracking moustache and bolo tie. His songs mix melancholy with the chirpier country rhythms, and a raw honest voice that sounds capable of breaking at any moment. Emma Gatrill is charmingly awkward and quirky as she reshuffled her lamp in her socks. But as she sat down to play, this other-worldly voice emerged, swollen with haunting folky melodies.
Hue Hui mixes hushed soulful folk with contemporary references and a bad ass attitude like her lyric “Tried to explain to you so many fucking times.” Her voice is like smoky honey and she sounds effortless singing it. Sharon Lewis kicked off her set with a twisted fairy-tale on ukulele, accompanied by a mandolin, and punctured by cutting lyrics “Your love is as fickle as the wind and I just got blown away.” It being The Winter Special and all that jazz, Sharon Lewis rolled out a round of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and little flickering hums from the audience joining in. (I hand-on- heart promise that it was only a tad awkward but mostly loveable as hell.) The final stop is Nature’s TV, a mellow indie boy band, playing amongst vintage sofas. Their dreamy alt-pop has the vibes to match a chilled California beach balcony, with just a sprinkling of Mac DeMarco and bubbling tropical guitar riffs.
Imagine being at a lovable mismatched family afterparty and you’ve pretty much got the atmosphere to a tittle. It was beautifully humble with encouraging words shared between the audience and performers, and a menagerie of heart felt songs that make you proud to be a Brightonian. - Jess Butcher