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Various Artists – Live at The Rose Hill #1 (Rose Hill Records)

It’s safe to say that The Rose Hill, in Brighton, is one of my favourite venues. Located at the end of row of houses just off Preston Circus, from the outside it looks like an old school Victorian boozer. The exterior is clad in what looks like green Poole Pottery tiles. The windows are frosted so you can’t really see what goes on within. The first time I went I thought “This can’t be the right place, old men get drunk in here and stumble home, grumbling their inane grumblings at last orders”. But it was the right place and wonderful things happened within. In 2015 the pub was deemed unprofitable and was set to be redeveloped into whatever old pubs are redeveloped into, flats\new pubs, etc, but The Rose Hill was saved. It became Brighton’s first building to be designated an Asset of Community and re-emerged as a social enterprise.

The pub is now a 100-200-cap music venue for the city’s burgeoning DIY, experimental and avant-garde scene. There is a recording studio, the venue has a residency programme, there are associated artists connected to the venue, creative producers who commission new work and a record label. It is a place that offers unlimited opportunities for those wanting something different.

Which leads us to the album at hand. ‘Live at the Rose Hill #1’ is more of a show reel for the venue, or sampler, than a straight-up live album. The album consists of five tracks featuring a diverse line-up. Normally I don’t like listing all the tracks on album, especially comps, but with ‘Live at the Rose Hill #1’ it feels fitting. Barnacles start things off with morose horns. Then the band kicks in, skittering drums, funky basslines and pumping horns totally change the vibe of the song. ‘Manatee’ is playful, with a real bounce in its step, but tender at the same time. Next up we have mechanical sounding guitars, soaring vocals and walls of feedback. It can only be the DIY demigod Jad Fair. What is most remarkable is the clarity of Fairs vocals. On ‘Manatee’ you could hear the crowd chatting and having a good time. Here the crowd are in awed silence. They are on the edge of their seat, even if they weren’t sitting at the time. After this Tanzanian Saidi Kanda fuses village roots with Urban Rumba. Like Barnacles there is a real joyful bounce to the music. Its really catchy and wonderful. Gus Garside and Trevor Watts are up next offering some exquisite improvisation. It’s claustrophobic, challenging and very, very good. The tones aren’t as harsh as you might think, and there are gentle melodies underpinning everything, giving it some real humanity. The album is closed with folk guitarist Marisa Anderson providing some English folk, via West Africa.

After listening to ‘Live at the Rose Hill #1’ it is hammered home how diverse this venue is. And this is only five gigs culled from five years of almost nightly live music. What ‘Live at the Rose Hill #1’ does is show a venue that doesn’t stick to a set formula everynight, like so many venues do. This is no shade on venues that do offer conventional ‘rock’ every night. Who doesn’t enjoy going to see someone sing their heart out with their band on stage? I do, but I don’t want it every night. The Rose Hill offers an alternative and ‘Live at The Rose Hill #1’ shows that. It’s an eclectic mix and you never really know what you’re going to get until you have walked through the door and paid your money. It’s a venue I’m looking forward to returning to whenever I next have the time, and after reading this, I hope to see you there.

 

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.