Thursday, 6 June 2013

Brighton Festival 2013: A Walkable Feast

Brighton Festival 2013 is over. The main event finished a week ago, and even the Fringe, extended for an additional week, has ended. We’re getting back to what passes for normality in our fair city. Highlights? This year it’s a long list: the home team (120 voices of The Brighton Festival Chorus) singing the Mozart Mass in C Minor at the Dome. Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen at the Spiegeltent. Tiger Lillies with their imaginative take on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at the Dome. Martin Parr at the Corn Exchange: possibly Britain’s most influential living photographer, giving his Desert Island Pics, showing and talking about the eight photos he’d take with him as a castaway. An illustrated master class in the history of photography.
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High Street Odyssey in Hove’s George Street, brought fresh eyes and ideas to the performance that is shopping. And It was a great Festival for pop/rock music, with The Flaming Lips at the Dome: big band + mid-sized venue = total sensory overload, with a retina-searing lightshow. Lucinda Williams did blues meets country at the Dome, with the brilliant Doug Pettibone on electric guitar. Also at the Dome, the singular Sinead O’Connor. There was a lorra lorra circus – the witty and colourful ensemble playing of Cirkopolis; the impressive Circa with I Fagiolini singers, including the amazing bit where the guy “fell” from high up in All Saint’s Church. And No Fit State with Bianca on Hove Lawns – innovative, immersive and impressive.
Open Houses, where the quality of the work just keeps on getting better (not sure about House at the Regency Town House and other locations). Plus “The Blue Route” by Kaarina Kaikkonen - whether you like what she did to the Clock Tower or not, it sure got people talking. Plus free events on the streets like Figures Libres and the fiery Faust in Jubilee Square.
Raspberries? “Building On What We Have,” a talk on architecture and the environment, where the potentially impressive speakers seemed not to have put much preparation into their talks. And “The Contents Of A House” at Preston Manor, where Peter Reder seemed unsure whether he was running a guided tour, a piece of promenade theatre or something else.
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The best of the Fest is that, whatever is on the bill, Brighton and Hove is a compact city, a city made for walking. And at no time is that more true than during the Festival, when pretty much everything is a walk, or at most, a bus ride away.

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