Just back from a gig night in Brighton, one of the great places in the world to watch live music. Like Manchester and, to be fair, London, Brighton has a good dozen club venues to watch new bands for a tenner or less, even if nothing quite matches the incomparable Brudenell in Leeds.
When tour dates are announced I tend to choose between Brighton and Manchester to see a band, depending on hotel prices, and the Seafront Travelodge is a tired-but-clean bargain at the moment. Unfortunately the growth in Manchester budget hotel prices are mirroring house prices locally.
Brighton also has hills, and not just in the Downs. The 3 mile zig-zag walk from the first free parking space (in Withdean) to the seafront is a delight, covering Preston Park and the Level before you hit the genuinely steep streets of Hanover.
I wrote about the campaign to save the Horse & Groom (pic above) in this suburb last month. Shortly to re-open as a café (a note on the door says); it’s a beautiful green-tiled building. I did count a half- dozen pubs within 5 minutes walk, but it’s possible they cater to a narrower group of regulars than the H&G did.
I could walk aimlessly round Brighton all day, just looking at street art and shops selling things I’ll never need. Only Resident Music, a southern rival to Piccadilly Records, detained me.
I did have a couple of new pubs in the 2016 Beer Guide to visit. One was great, one wasn’t. The Hanover, one of the pubs 5 minutes from the Nag’s Head, was a typical modern/vintage open-plan pizza pub, and should have been a good bet with reasonable mid-afternoon custom.
My local micro pale was lukewarm in every sense (NBSS 2), but this view may have been coloured by pricing – £3.34 a pint, £2.05 for my half. Go on, work out the premium in your head.
Just as well that the Brighton Beer Dispensary on the road to Hove is a cracker. It’s just round the corner from Cask, and is a little like a smaller local version of it.
I liked the simplicity of the beer range; 2 cask pumps each for Late Knights and Brighton Beer, clear labelling and good pricing. The latter’s stout was superb (NBSS 3.5), and the seating comfortable. I pass no comment on the hats below; it was a cold night.
The Dispensary was almost the highlight of the night. I turned up just as Lanterns on the Lake came on stage at The Haunt. You can normally tip up at a gig at 9pm and still catch the support act, but the Haunt was obviously going to get the live music over so it could fit a student club night in after us. Getting stage times is as easy as getting opening times for pubs.
So I missed the support but caught a lively set from Newcastle’s finest atmospheric popsters. To be honest, perhaps a bit too lively. The new LP Beings is a beautifully produced record, comparable to late Talk-Talk. Live, they have a tendency to Lift to Experience type bombast.
Their best live show was with a brass band at Durham Cathedral last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing them accompanied by the Royal Northern Sinfonia in lovely Gateshead in the New Year.
The Haunt is definitely on the “toilet circuit”, but not a patch on Komedia