Sunday, 10 March, 2024 in Music

Into Live Music Review: Rockaway Beach Festival (day two)

Concert: Rockaway Beach Festival (day two)
Venue: Butlins, Bognor Regis
Date: 6 January 2024

Rockaway Beach Festival day one done and dusted and then it was onto day two. Or was it? Well, not quite. It was well past midnight as I made my way back to the holiday park accommodation having watched an energetic and sensational show by Friday headliners, The Selecter. As I walked past the Reds venue, there was a stream of people leaving what I assumed was the last gig of the night. Safely ensconced in my room, I had a quick look on social media only to find the penultimate band had been delayed so everything was running late and actually, the Reds stage had still to bear witness to Hinds


Well, this was an unexpected bonus so I hurriedly made my way back down to see the Spanish buzzbombs go through what turned out to be a blistering set, kicking off just after 1am. Fan favourite Riding Solo was introduced early, a psychedelic, dreamy, lo-fi track that stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. Live, it was even better.  

Turning back the dial to Camden 1979, a cover of The Clash, Spanish Bombs raised the roof as the band gave Jones and Strummer a run for their money. The band rocked and were tight and on the money for what was an absolute bonus to end Friday night. Or was it to start Saturday? 

The Glaswegian tones of Lonely Tourist drew me in to Reds early on Saturday and while I only caught a couple of tracks, their infused guitar based indie-pop left me impressed. This is definitely an artist (Paul Tierney) I will be seeking out.  

Big Special on the other hand, with their spoken word style punk, alternative rock and a hint of soul bubbling under were more in your face, loud and definitely with something to say. Comprising singer Joe Hicklin and drummer Callum Moloney, they easily owned the stage and drew the crowd in. This Here Ain’t Water seeped through and spread like a virus, Moloney slowing the drumming pace before rising, heavy, weighty thrashes threatened to smash the cymbals into pieces. 

Big Special

If anyone needed to wake up from a late Friday then Big Special was perfect for that. The unbridled passion of Hicklin’s vocal on Desperate Breakfast was a joy to behold while the deep and embittered lyrics of Shithouse really hit the mark. The track’s electronic buzz and those drums exploded through. New single Dust Off/Start Again got a welcome airing before Trees finished an all too brief set. The band definitely placed down a strong marker for those to follow. 

And who better to take on that challenge than Skids? An opening salvo of Charade and then Of One Skin was simply off the scale. From my vantage point, viewing a few (plastic) pint glasses arc through the air as the crowd immediately acquiesced to the proto-punk master show in their midst made for a quite special experience. As front-men go, Richard Jobson is up there, he knows what he knows, he does what he does and is the consummate lead vocalist. That also comes with quite a bit of humour, with Jobson telling funny anecdotes between songs – the one about Leo Sayer had everyone in stitches – and he also introduced what he believes to be the worst song in the history of punk rock, cue Albert Tatlock!!






Of course, it’s not just Jobson up there. The band was as good as you’d expect. The recent addition of Filthy Tongues Martin Metcalfe on guitar and Fin Wilson on bass really augmented the live sound, the recent Destination Dusseldorf being a prime example, with Metcalfe singing additional lyrics. 

Circus Games is as poignant as ever, the last Skids song written with Stuart Adamson before the band round matters off with a trio of belters, a cover of The Clash Complete ControlMasquerade and a thundering Into The Valley. Challenge accepted, bar raised, job done. Skids rool. 

Meanwhile, a contemporary of Skids was over at the Red stage making their own angular, post-punk moves. Hugh Cornwell was in imperious form, leading the three-piece band through a set including solo material and songs from his days in The Stranglers. 

Hugh Cornwell

Early on, Skin Deep just flowed and felt like velvet whereas Wrong Side Of The Tracks burst with a rawness that Cornwell specializes in, the guitar spiky, the vocal deadpan, the drumming motorik-like. There was a hiccup in Strange Little Girl with guitar issues but that was quickly overcome and the track started again. It also just happened to be my favourite Stranglers tune so to get more than I’d bargained for was a bonus! 

Moments Of Madness with its groove led bass had a spacious, eerie feel with dub overtones, showing the ease with which the band could switch direction. Thereafter, When I Was A Young Man was a real rabble rouser with Cornwell perhaps looking back on life, the lyrics recalling a time long gone. 

After that, there was time to take in Dream Wife and what a joy to behold they were. The sonic implosion that was Social Lubrication kicked things off, the guitars and bass spraying shreds into the night, the drums urgent and Rakel Mjoll’s vocal cutting through like a laser. 

Dream Wife

The band were energetic, throwing shapes, dominating the space and clearly enjoying themselves. Moreso, they have the songs to back it, Hey! Heartbreaker being a case in point, the sound, slightly more nuanced, built up and expanded outwards before coming back down again whereas Hot (Don’t Date A Musician) saw the crowd bounce in tandem along to the rhythm, the vibe perfect. 

Dream Wife was the ideal way to end the Saturday session at Rockaway Beach. Now bring on day three…. 

John Welsh



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