Last weekend I was dog-sitting in Eastbourne while my mother escaped to her annual spiritual retreat at Walsingham cathedral; I was glad of a change of scenery after what had been a gruelling and emotional week and am always happy to spend time with the lovely Pascha. It so happened that some friends of mine were off to the De La Warr Pavilion - just up the road from Eastbourne in Bexhill - for a gig on Saturday night and suggested that Ant and I should come along, since we were in the neighbourhood. I didn't know much about the band that was playing, though Ant seemed excited when I mentioned it to him, so we booked tickets and tagged along.
The band was UNKLE, aka James Lavelle and Pablo Clements, who were being accompanied by the De La Warr's own Heritage Orchestra for a special performance as part of their current album tour. What had been a scorchingly sunny day turned into a beautiful evening on Bexhill seafront and as always, the DLWP crowd was buzzing with arty types from all across Sussex. I bumped into several old childhood friends from Eastbourne and spotted mates from Brighton including the couple who used to live upstairs from us. It was a great convivial atmosphere in which to soak up what turned out to be a magical gig.
UNKLE's dreamy, symphonic trip-hop sounds were beautifully interpreted by the 30 piece classical orchestra and two vocalists, and for the first half of the set I was totally swept away. After a good start, it all got a bit self indulgent towards the end when Lavelle took to the mic and started gushing and that combined with the sweltering temperatures up on the balcony was enough to make me lose my appetite for an encore. Even so, it was a fantastic evening, topped off nicely with a nightcap on the refreshingly breezy balcony of the De La Warr, chatting to friends old and new.
If you want to hear more about the gig itself, there's an excellent write-up on XYZ magazine's blog, and this YouTube video from a recent gig at the Union Chapel will also give you a flavour. For a bit more background on UNKLE in general and the Heritage Orchestra collaboration in particular, pick up a copy of the latest East magazine, where you'll find an interview with James Lavelle on page 35. For details of other upcoming performances at the De La Warr Pavilion, have a read of their Live Music Blog or the Events & Performances page of the website.