A live show which combines elements of soul, hip-hop, ska and folk is not a common sight, but after seeing Euphony, Celeste and Concept Of Thought take to the stage at Ouch! Bar Brighton, it is clear that every single artist has the energy, charisma, and musical ability to carry it off.
Celeste Waite, 18, from Brighton, is not another Whitney Houston cover singer. With brilliant stage presence and a fierce vocal energy she performs a repertoire which includes Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” alongside her own track “Love Without Chains”. Her band, made up of drummer Jack Wait and guitarist/pianist Sean O’Daly, find the perfect groove to accompany Celeste’s vocals, which is most evident during their performance of Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop” – The whole crowd are chanting along, with every high note or melisma greeted by a cheer.
Next on the stage are emerging Brightonian hip-hop crew Concept Of Thought. The group start off by getting the venue bopping to a chilled out vibe, with Frankie Stew performing his solo track “Just Another Day” alongside some of COT’s more relaxed material. Although their often abstract, train of thought lyrics seem like they would be more suited to recordings, their energy and liveliness on-stage means that each track translates well. Switching it up and showcasing some of their new material (including a track from Awfer’s forthcoming EP featuring Res of SplitProphets), Concept Of Thought successfully manage to get the whole bar bouncing – over a range of beats from producers including Mr Boss and Harvey Gunn.
It is clear from the start however, that Brighton ska-folk collective Euphony are the act that most people are here to see, and when they step up the venue seems to suddenly become jam-packed with heads (along with the stage; as a seven piece, Euphony could have stage presence whilst standing still). They are a versatile band who take songs and make them their own – Max Romeo’s “Chase The Devil” and SBTRKT’s “Wildfire” are crowd-pleasers from two different genres which Euphony manage to reconstruct and adapt to their own tempo and style.
Frontwoman Zoe Colombo barely pauses for breath throughout the set (except to down a beer to cheers from the front row) and the whole night really turns manic during “The Metal One” when half the band dive into the crowd and start a mosh pit, prompting multi-instrumentalist Adam Pickard to smash his viola which sends chunks of wood everywhere. It’s not even their last song yet.
When the last song does arrive, they are joined by Concept Of Thought for a lively, ska influenced performance of COT’s track “This Is Hip-Hop”. Phoebe Tomlinson blasts out the melody on trumpet and Euphony drummer Ben Ford keeps tempo as the entire room vibrates to the chorus (“This is hip-hop you ain’t gotta do it in a certain way/ Grab a pen and pad and let your brain waves circulate”). Another example of Euphony adapting a song to their own style, and it sounded just as good, if not better than the original.
Aside from a few microphone mistakes throughout the night, every act came with a polished performance and proved that multi genre events are not only possible, but can inject difference and energy into an otherwise ordinary gig.
Review By Michael Goodier