Death, drugs and dance – Brighton Festival is back

Brighton Festival

A world-famous festival kicks off this weekend.

Punks, playwrights, politics and pyrotechnics are all on the bill at the Brighton Festival.

The event runs from 3-25 May and features 448 performances, 34 venues and 37 premiers.

Among the famous names lined up are Emmylou Harris and Cat Power.

The former is one of the legends of country and western music. The 65-year-old singer pioneered county rock with Gram Parsons whose early death of a heroin overdose in 1973 robbed the world of a major talent. Harris appears at the Brighton Dome Concert hall on May 23.

Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, is returning to solo performance after many years’ absence. On May 18 she will present ,music from her hit album Sun.

According top to the Pitchfork website, the music “embraces darkness and light and exists completely and defiantly outside of any larger musical trends”.

Power is always amesemering if occasionally erratic stage presence and her return to the stage in Brighton will be keenly anticipated.

The Brighton Festival is known for raising eyebrows with its groundbreaking events and this year the one-woman sexual timebomb that is Peaches  presents Peaches Christ Superstar at the Theatre Royal on May 13. Peaches will perform the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical solo accompanied only by a piano.  Some may regard this as sacrilege, other as manna from heaven, but it is bound to be a dramatic and provocative evening.

Elsewhere, novelist Irvine Welsh will talk about his work 21 years after Trainspotting catapulted him to attention as the enfant terrible of the literary scene.

His latest book, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins,  is published this month.

It tells the story of  Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer, who disarms a gunman and is transformed into a media hero. An ey witness, Lena Sorensen, becomes obsessed with Lucy which is when the trouble kicks off.

The advance blurb promises murder, depravity and revenge – a bit like Brighton Festival in general.

Classical music buffs will look out for a celebration of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday and a performance of Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss.

As ever, the three-week long extravaganza is launched with the Children’s Parade through the city, the largest event of its kind in Europe.

This year’s guest director, choreographer Hofesh Shechter, said: “In our festival there are no immigrants, there are no outsiders,we all belong and our opinions are going to shape our world for three weeks.”