Simon Price on Brighton's The Great Escape festival: So when did young people get so old?

4.00

The boys are wet wet wet down in Brighton. Fortunately, girl power raises the roof

The queue of paying Great Escape ticket-holders waiting to get into The Warren – a church hall tucked away behind Brighton's hellish Booze Britain battleground West Street – could fill the venue five times over.

In the much smaller, fast-tracked queue of industry delegates, all the talk, naturally, is of business. Specifically, how difficult it is nowadays to screw a few pennies from the civilians lined up across the alley. "Have you thought of hotel lobbies?" asks one. "It's the future ..."

The terrifying truth is that he may be right. The act we're waiting an hour and a quarter to see is Tom Odell, winner of the critic's choice gong at this year's Brit Awards. And Odell does indeed make music that's precision-engineered for the Malmaison reception area.

Put simply, if Odell was any wetter we'd all need kayaks. The baby-faced, Hanson-haired 23-year-old, raised in Chichester, is a singer-pianist who plays gigs sponsored by Burberry, and whose single biggest influence is Elton John. When did young people get so old?

When we're eventually admitted, it's clear that the extravagant light show is the likely cause of the delay. The quiet bits in Odell's songs are repeatedly drowned out by a lighting engineer having a dispute with an unheard interlocutor. "I told you this was going to happen. As long as you know it's going to go white at the end of the song ..."

There are lots of quiet bits in Tom Odell songs. But there are just as many bits, in his Coldplay-lite oeuvre (imagine!), where his lower lip wobbles, he slaps the lid of his Roland upright, and appears on the brink of bursting into tears. On what basis? Examine his winsome nursery-rhyme lyrics for any justification for such emotionally overwrought delivery and the page, like the lights, goes white.

Fortunately, there's far more to The Great Escape than Tom O'Dull, so I dash over to the Blind Tiger bar just in time to catch Findlay, a seriously impressive 21-year-old Mancunian with a gingham outfit, teardrop-bodied guitar and a voice that, like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, seems to arrive from somewhere beyond her mortal, coltish frame. Her garage rock with a groove carries echoes of P J Harvey, Patti Smith and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, tough-girl lyrics ("Don't touch what you'll never replace ...") and an ability to break into a Vaudevillian cane-twirl and throw you off balance.

It's one-nil to the girls so far because Kodaline – supporting festival headliners Everything Everything at The Dome – are cut from the same damp cloth as Odell. Chart-toppers in their native Ireland, they deal in woe-is-me, four-plinks-to-the-bar piano pop, over which Stephen Garrigan whines lines such as "I know I've only got myself to blame ..."

Down in the basement of Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, a pebble's throw from the seafront, the wonderful Night Engine once again prove themselves the British band it's worth getting excited about this year, their elegantly assured funk-pop channelling Bowie's Station To Station, Associates' Sulk and early Franz Ferdinand. But I reviewed them a few weeks ago, so duty drags me back to The Warren, where I'm still in time for Deap Vally.

Who turn out to be a revelation. If two members of The Runaways were still on the run, had raided LaBelle's dressing-up box (raven-feather epaulettes, glitter bra, velvet hotpants) and scalped Bette Midler and Stevie Nicks to use their hair as wigs, it would be something like Deap Vally. As a badass blues-rock duo comprising a drummer and a singer wielding a stringed instrument, they invite comparisons with The White Stripes, Death From Above 1979 and Royal Trux, and are so loud they blow the venue's power out. "Someone must have flushed the toilet backstage," says Lindsey Troy, the Stevie Nicks one. "There's a sign about that."

This humour is almost as enjoyable as the San Fernando Valley girls' music. "We're wearing purple because our hotel is shrouded in it," says Julie Edwards, the Bette Midler one. "In the States, that would never fly, because purple is associated with homosexuality." There's an intake of breath from the gay capital of the UK, until she delivers the pay-off. "That's why we love it here."

Critic's Choice

The Field Day festival brings the likes of Palma Violets , Animal Collective, Bat for Lashes, Chvrches, Solange, John Cooper Clarke, Savages and Tim Burgess to Victoria Park, London (Sat). Meanwhile, the German cabaret tradition is revisited by Nina Hagen, David McAlmont and Jamie McDermott in Musik Kabarett, part of the Brighton Festival, at the Dome, Brighton (Sat).

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'