Last Thursday, two socially distanced audiences were treated to a Band Night unlike any other. The audience may have missed out on the Steep fireworks display this year, but there were more than enough musical fireworks to make up for it in the Theatre, as well as actual live pyrotechnics to get everyone in a Bonfire Night mood. A varied set of 16 songs performed by students from every year group at Bedales highlighted the amazing range of musical talent on offer.
Block 3 students Siena Marcos Bancroft Cooke, Hendrix Campbell, Kobe Carter-Johnson, Saffi Forder, Saul Zimdahl, Storm Verwey and Theo Stewart showed that the future of the Bedales Rock Show is in safe hands and it was amazing to see such confident performances from those so young.
Classic songs by The Strokes, Rage Against the Machine and Michael Jackson were complemented by the ingenious original songs of Lula Goldring, Molly Montagu and Jake Scott and the evening was brought to a close by a rousing rendition of The Killers’ Mr Brightside sung by George Vaux that got a necessarily restrained audience on its feet and dancing (in place!)
In these Covid times, the most important members of the Band Night team were our amazing stage crew. Tom Bonnar, Sam Coleman, Tashi Feinstein, Oliver Jones and Joe Wilson made sure everything ran safely and smoothly. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help and support of the wonderful Joanne Greenwood.
After we had settled into our socially distanced seats in the Theatre last Saturday, we waited excitedly to see what Merry Evening would bring. Spanning two nights this year to ensure that plenty of students had an opportunity to attend amidst the current restrictions, it marked the return of live music to Bedales – but the restrictions didn’t hamper the amazing atmosphere!
The Upstanding Jokes opened on Saturday night with their signature rambunctious style, this time slathered onto the Beastie Boys’ hit Gratitude, followed by Patrick O’Donnell’s performance of the smooth pop rock tune New Shoes by Paolo Nutini. Next up, Nay Murphy sang the sweetest rendition of Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. He was accompanied by Monty Bland, Joe Mendes and Tiger Braun-White, who also performed a wonderful keyboard solo.
Millie Bolton then took us on a journey of romantic excitement with Mae Miller’s Anticlimax; her Lily Allen-esque tone was wonderful and representative of the individual artist she’s becoming. Next was Freya Hannan-Mills, who performed Slow by Rumer; her sultry tone matched the song’s jazzy chords and laidback beat perfectly. Jake Scott then performed one of his originals. The catchy chorus and up-beat guitar made for a great song by a great young artist.
Martha Rye Lees gave the only fully acoustic instrument of the night. Her folk violin tune in theme and variation form was a wonderful change of scene and as a string player myself I was very impressed with her playing. Roo Trim’s original song was next. She sang about helplessness and losing hope in humanity as we all watch our world crumble due to climate change and increased levels of corporatism. It was a truly touching song and a vulnerable and beautifully expressed look into her mind.
Someone we all expect to see on stage at some point in the year was up next. With her signature piano and mic combo, Molly Montagu gave a stunning performance of One and Only by Adele that would impress even those who might say there’s no point covering Adele’s songs because she’s already sung them perfectly herself.
Another newcomer and the younger of the Murphy brothers, Zeb sang and played a folk tune on religion that explained the insightful questions the youth have on the societal systems we have in place. A very mature performance, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to seeing more of Zeb in the future. Another sibling pairing was present last Saturday: Livvy and Joel Edgeworth performed Billy Joel’s Vienna. The chemistry was obvious and made for a wonderful performance of a great song, it was wonderful to see that older songs aren’t being forgotten despite all the new music being pumped out nowadays.
Other highlights included Skye Williams singing Golden Dandelions with Kit Mayhook-Walker accompanying on guitar and Saffi Forder on the piano, who also accompanied Storm Verwey later in the show for her cover of Adele’s Skyfall.
Tiger Braun-White presented his original song Tricks of the Trade, sung by Lila Levingston with Tiger, Monty, and Joe accompanying. The penultimate performer on Saturday was Bedales Contemporary Music royalty, Isabella Montero, who performed another of her self-penned songs, this time an upbeat song about young love.
Finally, the evening was brought to a close with George Vaux and his laptop. George performed all the instrumental and vocal parts to the dance hit Gypsy Woman which had us all on our feet and dancing.
After a night of great performances by great performers, I know everyone in the audience left humming something new. I’m looking forward to going to Band Night on 5 November – I’m sure it’ll be even better than any of us could imagine.
The lockdown period has been an amazingly creative time for musicians around the world and our current Contemporary Music students have been inspired by following the online exploits of some of our musical alumni.
Delilah Montagu (OB 2016) performed with South African DJ and producer Black Coffee in the One World: Together At Home concert on 18 April that featured a huge range of the world’s biggest stars in music from Billie Eilish to Elton John and the Rolling Stones. Marika Hackman (2010) played the DIYsolation Festival, Minke (Leah Mason, 2009) has been extremely active from her living room in Los Angeles, performing at several online gigs including the Uncancelled Music Festival and 7 Layers, Quarantine Edition. Minke’s brilliant new single, Elsewhere, is released today across all platforms. Listen to it on Spotify here, follow her on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and catch her in a lockdown gig soon!