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REVIEW: Rockaway Beach at Butlins Bognor Regis11th - 13th January 2019

Festival review and photography by Ken Harrison

Rockaway Beach, the boutique indoor music festival held over three days brings together a truly unique line up. This exciting UK festival focuses only on the best emerging, breakthrough and established alternative artists.

Located in Butlin’s Bognor Regis resort on England’s south coast, all the onsite accommodation is included in the ticket price and located within walking distance of the indoor music venues.

This is a weekend music festival but without the camping, as the contemporary, comfortable  and well appointed resort accommodation provides a real home from home and all the comforts for the festival goer, but without the tents and the mud. This means festival-goers can focus on enjoying the music - whatever the English weather can throw at us

Rockaway Beach caters for adults only, so the grown ups can leave the kids at home and enjoy a range of entertainment across the resort including live music, quizzes, food and drink in the many restaurants and bars.

This year’s line up features three days and nights of live music across two venues, if you’re an early bird, then Reds Bar takes you through the afternoon to the early evening with a showcase of some of the best up and coming bands out there, with an eclectic range of indie, alternative, electronic and rock for every taste.

Centre Stage presents classic and contemporary acts from the late 70’s up to present day, and guest DJ sets late into the night, to keep you dancing into the wee small hours.

Friday afternoon kicks off at Reds Bar with raucous Glasgow Punks, Rapid Tan, Chupa Cabra, the glam Madonnatron and closing with the splendid Benin City  ‘melting your bits with the Sax’.

Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble open the Main Stage, followed by Goat Girl and a set of short punchy guitar based songs warming the audience up for Friday nights headline act, Maximo Park.

Front man, Paul Smith got the crowd bouncing from the get go with some classic Maximo tracks including ‘The Hero’, ‘The National Health’, ‘The Kids Are Sick Again’, ‘This Is What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted’, ‘Our Velocity’, ‘What Equals Love?’ and set closer, ‘Risk To Exist’, with the sprung dance floor in the room barely coping with the energetic crowd.

Guest DJ for the evening was The Specials’ Terry Hall, with a reggae and pop DJ set bringing the night to a close for those who had the energy to keep on dancing until 2am.

Saturday is THE day, as hordes of Numan fans appear in readiness for tonight's headline set. The afternoon in Reds starts with Winter Gardens, John J Presley, Desert Mountain Tribe, Spook School, Menace Beach, Spare Snare and closes with the mighty Algiers.

Out in the Skyline Arena, Louder Than War’s John Robb hosts a pre show interview with Gary Numan, talking about his career and life in a candid discussion.

Barry Adamson (Magazine, Visage, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and more) opens Centre Stage with a set of acid/soul jazz and avant garde solo work, including ‘Jazz Devil’,  ‘The Sun And The Sea’ and ‘Civilisation’. Paying tribute to the recently departed Buzzcock, Pete Shelley, Adamson recounts his audition with Post-Punks ‘Magazine’. He was given a guitar riff that was Shelley’s that he had to play, this was ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’ and Adamson plays a blinding rendition of this classic.

BBC6 Music indie dance darlings The Orielles play a set of tracks from their recent debut ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ and ‘Bobbi’s Second World. With a UK tour announced for February and March, they are well worth checking out.

Gary Numan headlines Saturday night, and Centre Stage is packed to the rafters for his unmissable set bringing classic electronic rock to the stage, including ‘Down In The Park’, ‘Cars’, ‘Are Friends Electric?’, and tracks from his latest album ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ with ‘My Name Is Ruin’, ‘When The World Comes Apart’ and others.

BBC6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq closed Saturday night with his DJ Set and some classic tracks, after the earlier Numan show, the audience must have been running on adrenaline as the dance floor got busy.

Sunday shows no let up in the music and Reds hosts Squid, The Luka State, Jemma Freeman And The Cosmic Something, Yassassin, The Filthy Tongues, Lorelie Meets The Obsolete and closing with Luke Haines and his acoustic set.

Its a slightly earlier finish on the Centre Stage for Sunday, and Eddie Argos’ band Art Brut open for a lively and humorous set including ‘My Little Brother’, ‘Wham Bang Pow’, ‘She Kissed Me’ and after an audience shout out, an on the fly setlist change for ‘Emily Kane’. During the set Argos stopped the band at times to chat with the audience and to jump in the pit.

Echo and The Bunnymen brought 2019 to a close with a set of classic Bunnymen songs, including ‘Rescue’, ‘Never Stop’, ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, Killing Moon’, ‘Dancing Horses’ and more besides, with McCulloch in fine voice and some of his usual ascerbic wit, and berating some audience member who couldn’t keep quiet whilst Mac was talking.

What a weekend! A great line up, with some fantastic performances along the way and certainly plenty of artists to look out for in future. Butlin’s Big Weekends run many events throughout the year, including Soul Weekenders, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, Rock, Folk, Dance and a whole lot more. There’s certainly something for most people's tastes to get away for a weekend of good value entertainment and to get rocking.

Such is the popularity of this festival, next year’s Rockaway Beach dates have already been announced, with Butlin’s Bognor Regis playing host from Friday 10th January to Monday 13th January 2020. For more information and tickets visit the Rockaway Beach website.

 

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