KITTY FITZ + VANITY FAIRY + PHANTOM ISLE + BEKAH BOSSARD – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 7.6.23
‘Hidden Herd Presents’, Brighton’s monthly new music night, returned to The Hope & Ruin on Wednesday. For the first of two events this June, the line up of emerging artists and up-and-coming bands featured: Kitty Fitz, Vanity Fairy, Phantom Isle and Bekah Bossard.
The opening act was Bekah Bossard, who is an American-British singer-songwriter. It was Bekah’s first time playing Brighton. She came on stage with just her electric guitar, and opened her set with ‘Sequoia’, followed by ‘In Your Head’.
Before her third song ‘What You Want’ Bekah informed the audience that it was the first song she had released. This song is built from a rather delicate guitar intro. Introducing her next song ‘Nice Guy’, Bekah confessed that the last time she played it live, she forgot the chords, but “… stubbornly carried on”. She did reassure us that she could remember them. ‘Nice Guy’ was performed without a hitch.
As well as her two single releases, Bekah gave a preview of her new single ‘Venus’ out later in June. There was also a brand new song, as yet untitled, which Bekah referred to as ‘F U Song’, explaining it was about wanting revenge. It was a more up-tempo song. Bekah closed her set with her second release ‘Four Walls’.
Bekah’s song lyrics are very personal, often about sad times. The melancholy subject matter didn’t lower the mood or enjoyment of her performance. Bekah seemed to grow in confidence through her set. Her vocals were delivered with emotion and feeling. Early in her set, Bekah commented “It feels like a family party, as I know so many friends in the room”. I’m sure from the audience’s appreciation of her performance, she gained several new fans at Hidden Herd Presents.
You can catch Bekah Bossard, when she heads out on her first UK tour supporting Ten Tonnes, playing Brighton’s Green Door Store on 13th September. Tickets are available HERE as well as from other outlets.
Phantom Isle are a three piece band originally from Northampton, now based in London. The band is led by Peter Marchant on lead vocals and guitar, with Joshua Guy on keyboards and Sam Thorne on drums. Phantom Isle mix their synth sound with acid house, disco, post-punk and industrial influences into an original and indie /electronica sound.
Peter Marchant announced the band with “Hello Brighton. We only know 5 people in Brighton, so it’s good to see you all here”. This referred to this being the band’s first appearance in Brighton since before the Covid lockdown. Their first song had elements of 1980’s synth pop, but a harder sound than pure pop. Some very good drumming from Sam Thorne and guitar from Peter Marchant, not only complimented Joshua Guy’s work on keyboards, but added a distinct element to the band’s sound.
As well as songs from their two EPs, ‘Figures’ and last year’s ‘Out Of The Blue’, and new single called ‘Still Time’, Phantom Isle previewed a brand new song, which will be their next single, ‘Be The One’. It had a very upbeat, dance track feel.
There was a slight technical issue during the set, but the band confidently played on, and didn’t let it distract from the overall enjoyment of their performance.
Phantom Isle played a quality varied set. As well as some good keyboards throughout their set, Peter Marchant played different guitar styles, with the odd guitar solo and even a country twang. I thought there were hints of Muse in their sound. There was a rawness, which made Phantom Isle’s performance fresher and more exciting than a synth band.
Although there isn’t anything in the diary for their next Brighton gig, hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for their next return to the city.
Divine disco diva Vanity Fairy is the creation of songwriter and vocalist Daisy Capri. Even before the first note, Vanity Fairy made an immediate impression with her unmissable costume of long glittering dress and elaborate neck rings. A look partly taken from the roaring twenties (1920’s that is) and the Jazz Age. While there was a sense of nostalgia about Vanity Fairy, with the visual look and sounds from kitsch-pop and classic disco, her performance was anything but dated.
Vanity Fairy opened her set with ‘Lover Man’ and ‘Sentimental Lover’, which immediately showed off her great vocal range. It was evident why her shimmering vocal falsetto has been compared to Barry Gibb and Kate Bush. Very chatty between songs, Vanity Fairy admitted she “likes a good talk”. Her overwhelming message, to quote her own words, was “Let’s have a dance and forget our worries”.
Vanity Fairy has amazing stage presence, both on and off the stage (more on that later). Continually walking around the stage with very theatrical, dramatic dance movements. Later in the set she even disappeared behind a curtain at the side of the stage. A few times, she’d crouch down hidden within her sparkling dress as if it were a cocoon and then re-emerge, spreading her arms so that her dress resembled a butterfly’s wings.
It’s increasingly common for singers to leave the stage to sing in the audience. At Hidden Herd Presents, Vanity Fairy took this further. After walking around the audience singing, to the surprise of everybody, she then left the venue. Confused faces wondered if she’d finished her act, but were pleased, when she returned from the staircase area mere moments later. Rather than return to the stage, Vanity Fairy walked to the back of the venue and sat on the bar to finish the song.
Musical highlights of Vanity Fairy’s set were ‘Superstar’ which she informed was from “my 1st EP, it’s my only EP”, and her next single release ‘Top Of The Pops’ with its 80’s US power pop sound and mellower vocals.
Vanity Fairy received an enthusiastic reception at the end of a stunning set. Her captivating show was great fun. It wasn’t just showmanship; Vanity Fairy is a really talented singer.
Kitty Fitz is the alternative pop brainchild of South East London-based Kitty Drummond. I’ve seen her perform before in her other role as bassist with Prima Queen, and was looking forward to seeing her with her own band. For her performance at Hidden Herd Presents, Kitty took vocals and bass guitar duties and was joined on stage by a keyboard player, drummer and guitarist.
Kitty opened the set declaring “Let’s do some rocking and a rolling”. Starting with ‘Split Ends’, her debut single, which was followed by ‘Malibu’. Kitty explained that despite the title she’d not been to Malibu, but it is about going on holiday with somebody and realising you don’t love them. Kitty Fitz’s lyrics are stories about being the antagonist and emotional vulnerability. She says she writes songs for “people who get a bit too drunk and love a bit too hard”. Kitty even joked before one song, “Here’s a happier song from my synth era. Sorry I lied”. Kitty Fitz’s lyrics were set to cinematic synth-pop melodies. There were subtle hints of country music on some of the songs. Kitty’s softly spoken, but assured, vocals drew the audience into her songs. Almost as if she was speaking to individual people, rather than a crowd.
Kitty Fitz ended their set with ‘I Want Your Love (My God)’ from the debut EP, ‘All My Own Stunts’. This was a more up-tempo number and a very good end to a very enjoyable set and evening’s entertainment.
Kitty apologised that she had to “leg it” to catch the last train back to London, so weren’t able to chat after their set. Many at the Hidden Herd Presents event would have been hoping that Kitty Fitz and the other artists on the bill leg it back to play Brighton again soon.
Kitty Fitz setlist:
‘All My Life’
‘I Want Your Love (My God)’
Hidden Herd Presents returns to The Hope & Ruin on Wednesday 28th June featuring Currls, Hypsoline, DUDE, MY DUDE and Hongza. Tickets can be bought HERE.