Two days in Brighton

From the moment you step outside the train station in Brighton you are greeted by the constant screeching chorus of the seagulls overhead.  That’s possibly why the local football team is nicknamed The Seagulls; they’re everywhere.

I’ve been to Brighton before, but never for more than a night, never by myself and not for almost four years.  The virtue of travelling alone is that you can do as you please and at your own pace – – which for me meant plenty of bars in a short number of hours.  There is such a cool vibe in the city which makes it easy to wander the streets and interact.

The layout is such that if you take the railway station as your starting point the iconic seafront is essentially directly south down the steep Queen’s Road, with a labyrinth of streets trailing off to the east and west.  Most of these narrow “Lanes” are lined with independent retailers, vintage clothes stores and all sorts of hidden treasures.  I only spent one full day exploring and I know that I barely scratched the surface of what Brighton has to offer.

Possibly the most bracing hangover cure known to man.

Unquestionably my favourite discovery was the Brighton Beer Dispensary on Dean Street.  Not only is it now my favourite bar in Brighton, but this place is certainly amongst my favourite bars ANYWHERE.  The decor is minimal – to say the least.  It was almost like walking through your own front door.  The main bar area was compact, although I believe they had a conservatory. But you don’t really come here for aesthetics, it’s all about the beer.  They had a cracking range of local craft beers and ales on tap, though unfortunately they’d changed the South Coast IPA they had on Wednesday night when I returned on Thursday.  The locals were friendly, the music was good and the salt & pepper chicken wings were immense.

The Craft Beer Company, just minutes away on Upper North Street, was also fondly received, without the intimate homely feel of the Dispensary.  The bartender was a real beer nerd, which I loved.  This dude knew what he was talking about.  The range on tap wasn’t so much local and had more of a wider English reach, but they were tasy nonetheless.  The chocolate porter was a treat.

Of course, the prime purpose for my trip to Brighton was to see Ryan Adams play at the Dome on Thursday night.  I love the area surrounding the Dome – the Royal Pavillion is an absolutely beautiful piece of architecture, a really lovely building.  The Dome itself is a very decent concert venue; the acoustics were pretty spot on.

Ryan is very much a settled performer these days.  Whereas at previous points in his career there was often the question as to which Ryan Adams would turn up tonight, you are now pretty much guaranteed a great show, and Thursday was no different.  It very much followed the same pattern as the last tour:  plenty of material from the most recent album, which has settled into the setlist very well.  His new band The Shining has really nailed the Cardinals material, and as such Let It Ride, Magnolia Mountain and Peaceful Vallley were amongst the highlights of a two-hour set.  I See Monsters went down well, and there were welcome appearences of La Cienega Just Smiled and the third, most recent version of New York, New York.  Such is the extent of Ryan’s back catalogue now there is usually room for a surprise or two, and Dear Chicago and This House Is Not For Sale were genuine WOW moments.  The latter has long been a favourite of mine.

This was one of my favourite trips.  I’d always enjoyed my previous visits to Brighton, but this week I fell in love with it.  There is such in infectuous vibe about the place.  It is compact enough to comfortably wander, the bars are brilliant with a real eclectic mix of people.  And those seagulls are music to you ears.