Reflections from the Lantern Society, Hastings’ Candlelit Acoustic Club, by Trevor Moss

On Saturday 11th August, the Lantern Society emerged from its candlelit home, blinking, into the sunshine for the second annual Lantern Society Songwriters Festival. From 2 until 9pm, the Stade played host to some of the finest original songwriters to have graced the Hastings and London acoustic club stages, their words and melodies echoing off the fishermen’s huts and cliffs, and reverberating around the old town’s alleyways.

Sublime performances from the extensive bill were enjoyed by a sizeable, appreciative and diverse audience. From the small children dancing in front of the stage, to the more distinguished members sat in deckchairs savouring every word, the enduring and universal appeal of simple, yet well-crafted, songs was never more evident.

Hastings is very often described as a party town. We’ve all seen the T-shirts with slogans like, ‘A drinking town with a fishing problem’. The cliché among musicians is that it is full of covers bands and noisy gigs where no one listens, but Saturday revealed something different.

So what makes people want to give up a sunny Saturday that could be spent on the beach, in favour of listening to what is, more often than not, a stranger tell them about their troubles?

Being on stage is more like being in a fishbowl than on a pedestal. It is the audience that is in the privileged position. They get to look directly into a performer’s eyes, whereas the person on stage must pick a spot on the back wall. It is an opportunity for the audience to examine someone, not for the sake of understanding who the singer is, but to gain greater understanding of themselves in relation.       

Relinquishing the desire to speak, to be heard, to express an opinion, is restorative. It takes a little quiet to learn something new. These moments of revelation can be inspired by words, but are frozen in time by a melody, which will leave you renewed whenever you hear it, for the rest of your life.

Songs themselves are not powerful, but they release power. They are matches. The allure of song-writing is the ability to sit down with nothing and to create something, with no body or mass, that can change the world. And while people believe in the power they harness within themselves, they will look to songwriters to unleash it.      

The next Lantern Society is Thursday 6th September, and takes place every first Thursday of the month at the Printworks on Claremont Rd.

Tune in to the Lantern Society Radio hour on Conquest Hospital Radio and online. 

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