Back to the Good Ol’ Days
I absolutely love the revival Margate is going through, having lived here most of my life.
Seeing it go from a bustling seaside town, full to the brim with holiday makers and our beautiful beaches full of people enjoying our golden sands – to budget flights abroad along with a few other factors seeing Margate go to ruin in the 90’s & early 2000’s. Beautiful houses turned in to flats and bedsits, shops closed or taken over by pound shops and Costa’s. Arcades burnt down, Dreamland closed and the iconic, grade 2 listed Scenic Railway also badly damaged in an arson attack (I was massively inflamed by this mindlessness)!
The revival all came about after the Turner Centre was built near the harbour and Margate old town. Since then lots of cool bars, micro pubs, art gallery’s, retro shops and restaurants along with the Grand Sands hotel over looking the main Margate sands and the beautiful sunsets JM Turner enjoyed almost as much as us from the isle. The owners of this amazing hotel played a large part in the reopening of Dreamland, regenerating that area and putting the Scenic Railway back up and running (yayyyy!)
The first reopening didn’t quite go to plan financially and Dreamland has seen its second rebirth in as many years. This second re-brand has seen the seafront transformed with a Jamaican theme roof-top bar (taking in those amazing views), the old Cinque Port pub (formerly the Punch & Judy, among a few other names) stripped right back and looking fantastic. The main Dreamland building, which over the years has held cinemas, a children’s play area (Coco’s, I loved that place), all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants, ball rooms and arcades has also had a massive face lift to look as it did in Margate’s heyday. The Art Deco neon signs and design of the building look especially grand at night when lit up.
The park itself has had a re think and for me it is a simple master stroke, again looking to Margate’s bright past when Dreamland held massive gigs with huge bands like The Who. Dreamland have kept all the old cool retro rides that knock you about and give you a old fashioned thrill and slight fear factor as you are bounced around collecting a few bruises and friction burns (the Helter Skelter in particular!). The park is still a work in progress but one half of it (the part without any rides) was used for Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz first gig in years and was a massive success. Other festivals have been arranged with the talk of some bumper bills next year, so the future looks bright for Dreamland and Margate.
Oh yeah Slaves… I could talk about Margate forever.
I’d heard a few of their songs on the radio and loved their up-beat tempo! With some pretty cool and intelligent lyrics (not talking about wheres your car Debbie) they are quite thought provoking but ultimately some actually banging beats to tap your feet to, and if nobody is looking bang your head to! I downloaded their album to my phone and have played them on repeat since. So I was massively excited when it was announced that the shiny new, world-class music venue that is Dreamland in my own back yard, were going to have Slaves headlining a gig, I booked 3 tickets straight away and told two pals they were coming with me! The lads were also buzzing as they love the band as much as I do.
A minor break in our plans the night before the gig as one of our threesome fractured his leg but still wanted to come along so I called ahead and asked if they could accommodate a now one legged man called Elvis (I was never sure who my mate was named after but it’s a cool name), and they said they would sort something “come on down” be there soon Bruce!
We All met at the Cinque Port, which was buzzing, and ordered a few house lagers, then headed down into dreamland where we hired a wheel chair and wheeled Elvis up to the venue. He had picked up the name Brian Potter at this point (Phoenix nights)!
Whilst Queuing, the bands lead singer Issac Holman walked past looking funky as, in his white vest. so we headed into the venue with the first band playing and we were pointed in the direction of a ramp on to a raised platform for our wheelchair bound friend and his 2 chaperones/slaves, which turned out to be the VIP area. Silver linings for our friend and his fractured foot!
The main warm up band were amazing and have been added to my playlist. Black honey, what a funky sound with a beautiful blonde lady fronting them. With upbeat, well written songs, I have been getting into the few of their tracks. I always try and catch the warmup bands as you can find some gold in there! I Found Boy Kill Boy and The Cribs this way.
The Main Event
The venue had filled up to near capacity by the time Slaves were coming on, and the excitement was building and I felt quite giddy myself. I’m not sure if this was the band, the beer or being raised up in the VIP section, seeing how the other half live (might break a leg for my next gig)!
Some chants started and soon enough the lights came up, the graphics started on the on-stage screens and out they came Issac and Laurie. The crowd went mental. We had a great view over the stage and crowd and that added to the atmosphere. Seeing waves of people jumping up and down with the lights flickering over them.
I can’t remember the song they opened with but it was high paced and got the crowd going mad! Mosh pits erupted all over the place. The sound this two piece make is phenomenal, with just Drums and a Guitar, it’s something I’ve never seen before. The Ting Tings have nothing on these boys! Laurie the Lead Guitarist was full of energy and skills but for me the star of the show – and front-man of the U.K. After Mr Gallagher – Issac is the main man. Stood up in front of his drums and microphone and the fast most ferocious drumming and well delivered vocals (this lad must be as fit as a butchers dog)! The first song finished and off came his shirt which showed his sweat covered torso (he must have to warm up for these gigs) and he poured more and more energy into the set as it went on, running up to his drum kit and abusing it with his stick(s), smashing them to smithereens like a caveman of old. All primal and full beans.
Seeing this energy I had to get involved and politely shimmied to the front and through the middle of a mosh pit and got fully involved in this high paced high energy pit of craziness. With hit after hit and pretty much all 100 mile an hour sending the crowd into a frenzy. All singing, and dancing together. Arms raised pointing at the band.
In the middle of the mosh pit there was lots of crazy, very sweaty Slaves fans having the time of their lives. I had to duck now and then as sweaty crowd surfers were passed over our heads and into the hands of the burly bruiser the other side of the fence! Shoes were lost, tops went flying – I couldn’t help but smile even though at this point I was rammed stuck to the front rail.
I managed to fight my way back to our cosy VIP perch, covered in sweat and out of breath!
This band are a cross between Punk, Ska, Indie & Rock and there energy has had me craving more Ska and Punk ever since I discovered them. Seeing them live just enhanced that! There were a lot of people who followed them down from Tunbridge Wells, where they’re based. I spoke to one of their photographers – a Punk/Mod looking chap who is close to them and followa them around the county.
These guys delivered a ton of energy, a sound as good, if not better live than their recording, and how they create such a great sound with just the 2 of them is mind boggling. With the band still relatively new, they have a big catalogue of some great tunes and hardly any ‘fillers’. I can’t wait to see them again – That is why I love live music – because a band can become your new favourite band after just one show!
This was by far, one of my favourite gigs and to have it right on my doorstep in a town I love.