Our first visit to the wonderful Spiegeltent this festival kicked off a typically eclectic Brighton Saturday night. Having had a sneak preview of Forcione when he was supporting Boothby Graffoe at Komedia, I was eager to hear the full spectrum of his talent, this time in the context of his quartet. The four musicians comprised a cellist, a percussionist, a bassist/flautist and of course the delightful Antonio on his many guitars. From what I'd previously heard at Komedia, I was expecting a bluesy set, with plenty of impassioned improvisation, and fingers moving at impossible speeds. There was passion and improvisation aplenty, and I was once again awed at the dexterity of Forcione's fingers, but was pleasantly surprised at the feel and style of most of the music.
Two of the musicians were African (percussionist and cellsit) and this came through in much of the material. What emerged was an uplifting fusion of bright Samba beats and avante-garde, extemporised jazz, all played with classical proficiency. Foricone embraces his intrument with evident fervour - using every part of it, not just the strings - and appears physically consumed by the music. Far from being a backing band, each of the musicians had their moment and proved themselves Foricone's equals in talent and execution. The percussionist looked as though he had most of Adaptatrap (Brighton's excellent percussion shop) in tow, as he deftly moved between an intriguing range of instruments, ranging from traditional drumkit to a bunch of shells on a string.
The Highlights included a jocular duet between Forcione and his percussionist on a type of African tambourine (I can't recall its proper name), and the closing number, which reverted to Forcione's native Italian style - a feverish Tarantella. The latter had my heart thumping and I left feeling thoroughly stirred and inspired.
Groupe F Pyrotechnics, Preston Park, Brighton
From the atmospheric Spiegelgarden, we walked over to Rob and Sarah's in Preston Park, where an afternoon drinking session/barbeque was in full swing. Being entirely sober amongst this evidently innebriated crowd was rather entertaining. Getting said crowd to the park in one piece for the Groupe F fireworks was an admirable feat, considering their collective condition. Not being a fan of fireworks particularly (it's the big bangs that upset me), I was somewhat wary, but had been assured by Rob that it would be worth it. He'd seen this same outift a few years back and had been blown away (bad pun, sorry). It was certainly a spectacular display, with men (or possibly women?) in illuminated suits appearing to fly across the stage, surrounded by various explosions and eruptions. I was mildly irritated by the pretentious music which accompanied the show and had to put my hands over my ears during several chest-thumping detonations.
The usual mayhem occured as 15,000 odd revellers tried to leave the park at once, and we lost Sarah & Rob et. al. in the process. Neither of us relishing big crowds, we hung back a bit until it had cleared sufficiently to walk, rather than shuffle, out. In a typically Brighton moment, we bumped into our upstairs neighbours, Sean and Sara, and ambled home with them via The Geese on Southover Street. Rounding off the night most pleasantly, we were invited up to theirs for a nightcap (or two) and finally started to get to know each other properly. Before we knew it, it was 3am and we were thankful to only have a few stairs to negotiate before flaking out.