End of Year Soirée

End of year soiree1THINGS are changing on campus.

Whilst change is, by and large, a common occurrence at Aberystwyth University, it has been a long time since we have seen a constant flow of exciting, talented artists travel to our shores to perform.

Just like any other open day or graduation, Aberystwyth’s very own ecosystem held its own and basked the thousands of returning graduates (and their friends and families) in sunshine for the whole week. The stage was set, and after just a few weeks of planning, the End of Year Soirée opened its doors on a glorious Wednesday evening to an excellent turnout.

Aberystwyth’s very own Rob G opened proceedings with a nostalgic DJ set, before Sgarmes spun the room on its axis, blowing the main room annex’s roof off with a 15 minute Glee-esque set. Comparing Sgarmes to Glee, however, is just too insulting – they are streets ahead in every sense in our opinion! Throughout their 15-minute slots during the evening they had the crowd dancing and singing along to every tune. A truly wonderful moment and Sgarmes will undoubtedly be back for more.

Next to wow the stage was Doubting Thomas. A talented Thomas Shephard with a superb backing band glided through a thrilling 30 minute performance with catchy, pulsating melodies and sharp lyrics. An unfamiliar crowd were soon to join in as an alluring Thomas led from the front magnificently. They were a perfect billing for a supporting act – they created a brilliant atmosphere and after a little more Sgarmes, it was the perfect warm up for the headline act.

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One of the organisers with Lucy Rose

Anticipation had built perfectly as Lucy Rose arrived on stage just after 11pm to rapturous applause. From there on in, we were gifted a 45 minute master-class from the Warwickshire songstress. Her set-list was powerful, gut wrenching and tugged ferociously on every emotional heartstring possible in the Students’ Union. Fans were intrigued as they were treated to 4 new songs – a signal of intent with a new album looming. ‘Like That’ followed the popular ‘Middle of the Bed’, and were a personal highlight for us.

An ASM reporter got to chat with Lucy earlier that day, and found out she was a keen geographer. Whilst she berated our reporter for not having a National Geographic subscription and ‘fleece’, it was plain to see a definite link in her music and love for the world and travel. New tracks ‘Sheffield’, ‘Inverness’ and ‘Köln’ only go to enhance this and we can only imagine what it’s like for a geography lover to be constantly on the road and visiting many a fabulous city and country doing the thing they love most. Although many may have arrived at the Soirée without hearing a definitive list of Lucy Rose songs, we are certain many left having had a true reflection of her performance and likability. Lucy and her band closed with ‘Bikes’, a song which, perhaps written on the road, perfectly juxtaposed the journey and stories that were just beginning for the graduates on the road ahead.

One reporter was fortunate enough to spend the majority of the afternoon and evening with the End of Year Soireé performers, which they described as a “fantastic experience all round”. After finishing her set, Lucy was more than happy to give a quick interview to Aber Student Media, although with her incredibly down-to-earth attitude, the interview mirrored two friends catching up over a coffee.

After asking of her first impressions of Aberystwyth she told us; “I’ve never been here before. The drive here from London was pretty epic, we were around 2 hours away from where we needed to be on these tiny roads asking myself, ‘Where the hell are we going?’ Then we got here and it’s just one of the most beautiful places… I’ve met some really cool people, plenty of geographers!” Lucy and her band had good things to say about Borth and their accommodation too – joking (disappointingly for us) that they would be back to write some songs here!

When asked if she had enjoyed her three-show stint at Glastonbury a few weeks before, she pointed out how nervous she was that people ‘wouldn’t turn up’ – a common issue in the musical archipelago that is Glasto. Our reporter then turned the conversation to recently featuring with artists such as Bombay Bicycle Club on their next album, as well as Ghostpoet. Lucy was very humble and proud of these side projects and said it is another asset to her arsenal. They finished by quizzing her about album number two:

“It’s weird because now I’m signed; it’s kind of like ‘would you like to put out another album?’ It’s really nice because I was wondering if they were going to drop me – which goes through any artists’ head. It’s in the pipeline and I’ve been writing lots too.”

We’ll be watching this progression even more carefully now at Aberystwyth Student Media over the coming year. You can expect to hear a lot more of Lucy Rose on Bay Radio!

From top to bottom, Sgarmes, Doubting Thomas and Benji B

From top to bottom, Sgarmes, Doubting Thomas and Benji B

Radio 1’s very own Benji B wound up the event with an absolutely sterling set spanning the three year journey of most of Aberystwyth’s graduates. Our reporter was also able to spend a fair amount of time with ‘Benji’ during the course of the afternoon; finding he was a true master of his trade. After being told he needed to target his set to three years of tunes, and you would think this would be a big ask. But for Benji it was a case of ‘yeah sure, sounds good to me’ – and off he went through his laptop whilst relaxing in his hotel. His cool, relaxed nature was evident on the decks as well, and he effortlessly pulled off some superb mixes. From Jamie XX to Luther Vandross – Aberystwyth was given it all. (N.B – We do realise the latter is more suited to the 80’s!) In probably the strangest week of his life, he was soon jetting off to Bratislava and Moscow to play – boasting quite a trio of locations!

So, deem the End of Year Soirée as a small taster of things to come then. In an emotional evening, during an emotional week, the stage was set for Lucy Rose and co. to blow the graduating contingent away with a superb evening of performances, talent and promise  – and to be honest, they did just that.

Like the Bay Radio Facebook page for regular updates on album releases and news, and tune into Bay Radio next semester as we look to play the whole Lucy Rose interview live!