Putting Bridlington on the map

The Bridlington SPA'The xx and the BBC orchestra'PA1238-18v
The Bridlington SPA'The xx and the BBC orchestra'PA1238-18v

THOUSANDS of people crammed into Bridlington Spa for a special collaboration between indie band The xx and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra which was broadcast live on Radio 1 to millions more.

The show - a collaboration between the Mercury music prize winners and composer Alex Baranowski, saw a range of The xx’s songs from their award winning debut album, and this year’s follow up, being reimagined with the backing of the orchestra.

The Bridlington SPA'The xx and the BBC orchestra'PA1238-18b

The Bridlington SPA'The xx and the BBC orchestra'PA1238-18b

With tickets for the show awarded for free in a ballot on the BBC website, a large queue gathered outside the Spa hours before the doors opened at 6pm, but the venue filled up quickly with eager fans.

A few groans of disapproval were audible when Radio 1 DJ Greg James made a tongue-in-cheek, unflattering remark about the town live on the station - which was played over the Spa’s sound system before the band emerged, but those quickly changed to cheers when presenter Zane Lowe came on stage to introduce the orchestra, and then the band themselves - describing the event on stage as the ‘music event of the year’.

The show, presented by Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, featured new material from both the orchestra and the band.

Lowe said: “The Spa is amazing and huge and it is a grand venue for a grand musical experience. It is a very special occasion.”

Then came the music.

The xx are hardly not known for their over-theatricality, so it was no surprise to hear the orchestral strings restrained - especially on first song Angels, and second Heart Skipped a Beat.

The unobtrusive style of the strings however matched perfectly with the band’s stripped-back, hollowed-out sound - with the Spa’s specially constructed extended stage contributing to an intimate atmosphere.

The band themselves miss out some of the better known numbers from their first album, but when the orchestra joined in on some of the lesser known songs they were re-created with an understated intensity.

Although only playing a 45 minute set, the band left the stage to a rapturous appluase from the 3,400 strong crowd.

Composer Alex Baranowski, who has previously worked on the National Theatre’s productions Hamlet and Frankenstein, told the Free Press: “We really enjoyed our time in Bridlington, the venue was great and the setting by the sea was wonderful.

“Thanks to everyone who came along.”

The Spa itself was the perfect venue for the occasion, and with the concert also being recorded for the BBC website and the red button service, it has been showcased to an audience of potentially millions.

Andrew Aldis, general manager at The Spa Bridlington, said they had to increase the stage by 16ft at the front and either side of the stage to accommodate all the equipment and the full orchestra.

He said: “I couldn’t think of a better venue to hold the concert – as no-one is further away than 25m from the stage. The venue looked amazing.

“Staging this concert has really put Bridlington on the map.”