Saturday, 3 July 2010

Live Review: Birthdays and bubbly for Imperial Leisure @ Blissfields Festival

Ska punk fever hits Hampshire when Imperial Leisure crash the party…

In a remote field deep in the Hampshire countryside it is impossible to miss a black and white sticker wherever you turn. Plastered on fences, sign posts and human limbs it pops up everywhere and anywhere. The field is home to this year’s Blissfields Festival and the sticker in question depicts the logo of ska punk band Imperial Leisure. And it’s these skankalicious Londoners that truly get the festival party started.

Blissfields is one of the smallest yet most diverse music festivals in the UK showcasing everything from dub step to metal and, of course, ska. The crowd mostly consists of the middle aged and middle class sipping Pimms and sitting on picnic blankets but it is the cider chugging, post-exam celebrating masses that have gathered for Imperial Leisure’s set.

Bouncing on stage in no shirt but plenty of festival paint, lead man and birthday boy Denis Smith introduces some brand new material from the band’s eagerly awaited second album. And the reaction is enthusiastic to say the least. The new tracks sound heavier than the band’s previous output but still full of energy and fun that spills out over the barrier and into the crowd.

But it’s the summer time classics from debut release The Art Of Saying Nothing - and the champagne that Denis showers Formula 1 winner stylie over the crowd - that gets the party in full swing. The band who are known for their guerrilla gigs, truly come to life in an outdoor festival setting and soon it’s not just the youngsters skanking in the sunshine, with people of all ages getting in on the fun.

The dedicated fans rap along to the fast paced verses as well as chanting the huge choruses and their enthusiasm is repayed in yet more of the bubbly stuff. Imperial Leisure’s appreciation of their fans helps them stand out from their peers, as the band end the set by inviting a fan on stage to celebrate his 18th birthday in style. There is no doubt that he and all of the other people present had a blissful time.

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