LIVE: Bellevue Days / Weatherstate / Quiet Lions / Pickpockets @ The Hope And Ruin, Brighton

By Andy Joice

The Hope And Ruin is a typical Brighton dive bar. Fairy lights casually adorn the ceiling of the main bar in no noticeable pattern, band stickers are sloppily stuck to every surface possible; with local craft beers and a locally-sourced menu featuring off the wall food combinations, it’s a venue that stinks of a DIY ethos. Above the main bar is a stage in one of Brighton’s most accessible venues for both established and up-and-coming bands – and for one night only, concluding a four-band lineup, Bellevue Days graced those infamous boards.

Opening to a sparsely populated room, Brighton locals Pickpockets tried to rouse the early comers into movement. A young band with a mere handful of songs on Spotify and an EP to be released later this year, they grew into the set, beating out their initial nerves. As the band found their comfort zone, the crowd found theirs, gradually getting to within a few feet of the stage. With thunderous basslines and intricate melodies, as well as a heavy dose of vocal harmonies, Pickpockets closed their set strongly, with single ‘Elixir’ being one of the tightest and well delivered songs of the night.

Also native to Brighton, second supports Quiet Lion started with a discordant tone that resonated through the room before quickly rolling straight into their set. As if spurred on by Pickpockets, Quiet Lions provided their own harmonies, upping the ante to delicately delivered three-parts and creating an almost ethereal tenderness, particularly through the quieter moments of ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Wasteland’. Clearly more accustomed to life on stage, their performance was near flawless, with every second sounding meticulously planned – almost to the point of being too clean. It would be easy to say they were a little lifeless, but this was quickly quashed by both the camaraderie onstage between the band, and the way each member threw themselves around whilst sucked into their craft. A band this well-rehearsed, with a sound this well-developed, seem certain to expand to bigger things in future.

Main support came from Bristolians Weatherstate and, leaping away from the sonic landscape of the two previous bands, the band came straight out of the gate with a punk tone that would’ve felt quite at home at Epitaph. With multi-instrumentalist and local hero Luke Rainsford covering on drums for the extent of the tour, they’re unbearably tight, yet maintain the frenetic energy that comes with incredible, catchy punk music. Sticking largely with tracks from 2019 album ‘Born A Cynic’, ‘Ghost’ and ‘Medicate’ particularly stood out with choruses that gained everyone’s attention, like dropping a glass at a Wetherspoons. Sitting comfortably above the thrashing guitars, Harry Hoskins’ almost Californian vocal delivery punched deceptively relatable lyrics at the crowd, who lapped them up hungrily. The sound mixing remained fantastic throughout, with vocal harmonies ringing seamlessly – and it seemed sure to continue for Bellevue Days, a band whose three-part harmonies are one of their key characteristics.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Whatever happened after Weatherstate ended their set and Bellevue Days started theirs, the sound quality plummeted dramatically, with lead vocalist Alan Smith barely audible for at least the first four songs. While the vocal delivery was initially hindered, the instrumentation was as intricately diverse and clear as a studio release, with long guitar wails and thumping basslines working together as a cohesive unit.

As with debut album ‘It Can’t Possible Go Wrong Ever’, their set opened with ‘Gentle Flower’ before leading straight into ‘Shotgun’. Though the crowd appeared to have dwindled somewhat – it was a rainy Wednesday night, after all – everyone who remained was fully engrossed, heads swaying gently in time to the beat. Further into the set, both ‘Ripped Jeans’ and ‘S.A.D’ gained singalong responses from the audience, with ‘Ripped Jeans’ being dedicated to Smith’s brother.

As they paused to chat to the audience, and Smith confirmed that they had only two more songs left – to which the response of “one more song” elicited a laugh from the stage and a middle finger from Smith – they also announced that secondary vocalist Dan Lukes was playing his penultimate show before leaving the band. A surprised crowd looked on as the band exchanged words with each other before piling into Lukes-led perfect rendition of ‘Faith’, closely followed by ‘Lily’, a slower variant of opener ‘Gentle Flower’.

While the band laid their still ringing instruments down, the chant of “more” from the audience appropriately turned to “two more songs” – clearly taking a cue from the earlier heckle. Less than ten seconds later, Smith announced ‘The Greatest Demise’ and launched into it with the velocity of a bowling ball falling from a loft hatch – quickly, and loudly. Sadly, there was no second encore; what was clear, though, was that despite sound issues early on, Bellevue Days had recovered like pros and finished on a noticeable high, drawn on from the hunger of the crowd. And with that, the crowd walked back into the cold and wet Wednesday night, ears filled with a familiar ringing and the memory of delicious harmonies to keep warm.