Radiation City had a dose of sunshine about the way they performed. The wide stage of the Hope and Ruin just about held the five piece and their instruments; they had their keyboards at either side and guitarists and drummer in the centre. The crowd was warmed up with some awesome support bands, including an uplifting performance from Salt Ashes with their ephemeral vocals and Joel Wells who seemed to capture an urban electronic sound. There was something of Jimmy Somerville about his vocals. Both put on fantastic shows. At times it was a little bit thin on the ground people-wise but this wasn’t because of the performances, just another episode of ‘great music heard by the few’ which seems to the ethos of gigs in Brighton at times. I felt really very lucky to see all the amazing talent and it was clear how much effort the performers put into their work. Radiation City told the crowd that Brighton was not only their first gig of the tour, but the first in the UK as well. We gave them a welcoming cheer.
The band hail from Portland, Oregon, home to many of my favourite all time artists, like Elliot Smith. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference that they are from there, but on the (web) page it seems like it’s a melting pot for musicians. As anticipated, the jaunty, bright and beautiful sounds of the vocalists transported us all. There was a moment where I felt like I was listening to the theme tune for running through a field of flowers. Yes, it’s that happy. The synthesizers abound for tracks from Synaesthesia – one of the members of the band actually is synesthetic; Lizzy Ellison sees specific colours when she hears different musical sounds. If the tracks are any insight into her psyche then I’m pretty sure it’s like skipping around yellow brick roads through the Swiss Alps, eating chocolate.
I went to the gig with a friend who hadn’t heard the band before and she was thoroughly cheering them on, especially for Oil Show. Then they hit us with easy sleaze of Juicy recalling bands like Garbage and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. When the light and frothy tones of Separate played with its Parisian café music feels the dark Saturday evening seemed to fall away. I think the band honestly do impart a little of the colour and even a little of the shade. I was pretty sure I could have danced about like Catherine Deneuve in a scene from the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and I’m even more confident that everyone else wanted to as well. A really entertaining and expert performance, thanks for coming Radiation City, please come back!
Radiation continue their international tour and their new album Synaesthesia is out now.
Salt Ashes’ new single If You Let Me Go is out now. Joel Wells’ latest single is Harmony.
By Lou Clement