Review: TOPMAN 24

The #Topman24 event held at Brighton this month saw the brand take over the city for one whole day, hosting giveaways, a club-night and more.

Part of the celebrations were held at The Hope and Ruin, a unique, recently refurbished bar that couldn’t be placed into any category, making it perfect for Brighton’s diverse culture.The first event of Brighton’s Topman 24 mini-festival was a Play & Tell session here, hosted by Juice FM’s Tony Marks. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect from this one, with no prior notice being given by Topman themselves, but – at first glance – at least the room looked good.

Ninety minutes later and we still weren’t entirely sure. It’s not that the session was terrible – with commentary between poet Luke Wright, XFM DJ John Kennedy and our own Resident Records’ Derry Watkins on music that had inspired them throughout their middle-aged lifetimes – it was just that we didn’t really see the point.

For some, we can see the nostalgia factor. Wright and Kennedy engage in a lengthy, enthusiastic discussion on Blur (and name check their upcoming album, The Magic Whip), while commenting on what a c*** Damon Albarn can be. Of course, this is entertaining in itself (and arguably the highlight of the afternoon), but it all got a little samey quite quickly. And then there’s this nagging feeling that we’ve heard it all before, but with bigger names. Kennedy is easily the most captivating of them all, but spends a little too much time reminiscing on the soundtrack of Robin Hood than sharing his obviously expansive musical knowledge with the audience.

All in all, we think Topman can do better; this felt a little too much like the kind of thing that belonged on “insomniac TV” at 3am, on a channel that nobody watches.

Next up we had the Music Pub Quiz, again at The Hope & Ruin, which was hosted by a renowned local personality, whose frank yet humorous demeanour and easy-going attitude allowed him to easily engage with the packed room. Cackles were heard throughout as he gave out sweets and socks for ‘most outrageous’ and anyone who could answer his questions based off his large and detailed musical knowledge. The Verse name our team Versatile (see what we did there?), but nothing was flexible about this quiz. The questions had been written by Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw, but these were not mainstream or straightforward, as his bubbly morning show is. Questions such as listing short celebrities in height order and deciding if Kanye West said certain quotes (Kan-Yay or Kan-Nay?) got the most giggles, but the round that showed the real creativity of the teams was where the objective was to re-create famous album covers, which were uploaded to Instagram with #Topman24. Versatile’s attempt using various effects and clothing accessories to create Sam Smith’s ‘In the Lonely Hour’, sadly did not win the round. Whilst Versatile came 9th, it was clear in the room that the joyous event made everyone a winner, ready for the club night later on.

As the quiz ended, goody bags were given out at the door containing socks, Topman fragrance and gift cards with undisclosed amounts on, persuading you to venture to the Brighton store to find out the amount, confirming its prominent space on Brighton’s shopping market until the next #Topman24 comes around.

The last event of the night was held at The Haunt, and the relatively early start time of 7pm made for some awkward standing around… luckily, those of us who got down early were given free drinks vouchers (yessss!) which made the mood a little lighter.
By the time Brighton five piece Fickle Friends came on, we were up for a dance, and they were the perfect band for the job with their addictive brand of new-wave pop. Their high-energy vibes with a sunny beat had everyone in the venue bopping along and trust us when we say we would have been singing if we knew the words.

Lead singer Natti has a cracking voice and there were some killer harmonies going on with the bassist and keyboardist either side of her. Their new single sounded great but in fact, so did every other track. They really have a knack for writing songs that make you want to dance at least a little bit (or a lot, as was the case with some of us). Unfortunately, they don’t have any Brighton dates lined up on their upcoming tour… “But why?” we hear you cry. We understand your pain, and we strongly suggest you consider travelling to their London gig as it’ll be totally worth it.

Next up, Brighton had the pleasure to welcome Birmingham’s favourite 90’s inspired musical quartet. The group’s name Superfood was created as an ‘ode to wandering through kitchen cupboards with an attack of the munchies’, and members Emily Baker, Ryan Malcolm, Carl Griffin & Dominic Ganderton were recently nominated for ‘NME Award for Best New Band’. Their latest album ‘Don’t Say That’ certainly lives up to the audience’s expectations with Superfood’s recurring old-style, retro musical theme. Visibly euphoric, the band performs each note effortlessly and their music is incredibly infectious amongst listeners.

When the band got on stage, the emotion amongst listeners can only be described as an air of nostalgia, which filled the room when the first chord was struck, and the first verse was sung. No wonder the band’s members are often referred to as ‘Britpop revivalists’, not only do they do the 90’s era complete justice in sound, but the retro imagery in their music videos is strikingly convincing.

If Fickle Friends were the pleasing new find on the menu, and Superfood were the fiery, ravenous second course, Spector were the icing on the cake. Having recently unveiled their new song All The Sad Young Men, they started off the show with another slice of new material. Despite an indecipherable chorus due to an over the top synth effect on front man Fred’s vocals, the song set the mood for the night. There was a blend of new material with interspersed cuts from their first album, some 3 years ago now. Celestine and Chevy Thunder went down particularly well with the crowd, as did one or two of the new, slightly jazzy songs. They have evolved noticeably since we last saw them support Florence + The Machine when their debut effort was released, as their lead guitarist left and they reshuffled their roles within the band. With added synth and keyboards to change up their sound, the set sounded far more varied. Ending with the aforementioned new single, they brought an end to the night with a fantastic reaction from the crowd. Hopefully, they will never “fade away”, as Fred desperately wishes and wants them not to.

The next morning, Topman held a Hangover Breakfast to complete the 24 hour takeover, with food supplied by local zero-waste business Silo. Whilst we love the idea of free food for the hungover masses, we just couldn’t get ourselves down to Churchill Square by 10am. Admittedly, some of us had classes… the rest? Well, let’s just say we had a good night! It was St Patrick’s day after all…

Written by Alice Hudson, Harry Barnes, Nammie Matthews, Iara Kaiser and Robert Bone

Topman/Topshop moved from its original, single floor location to a newly built section of Churchill square last October. The store is open seven days a week.

The Verse Staff

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