Icebreaker Festival (Winter 2022)

Icebreaker Festival, Multi-Venue Southsea, 29th January 2022

I maintain that in the UK, January is a great time for indoor festivals. There’s the post-Christmas lull, an inexplicably long month that goes way beyond its alleged 31 days, and just a general sense of being cold and looking for a fresh start to the year.

Year on year, Icebreaker responds to this beautifully – something to look forward to, a lovely warm atmosphere and always some new artists to discover alongside some familiar and already favourite faces.

My day started with Temples of Youth (above) sounding incredibly polished, with or without the requested reverb that eventually made a guest appearance late in the set. An acoustic set from Joe Johnson (below) also proved to be a welcome way to ease into the day.

One of the joys of this festival is that it’s not just multi-venue but also multi-genre so I often find myself seeing artists I probably wouldn’t catch otherwise, and I was grateful for the introduction to the jazz-infused sounds of Maple Sky (below).

Having made their live debut at Icebreaker two years ago, it was great to see a packed Wedgewood Rooms for Fast Trains (below) as they made the transition to the main stage look easy. Look out for their return to the Wedge in April.

Albert Road edging onto Elm Grove in Southsea is well established for these kind of events now, hosting a number throughout the year with a wide array of pubs, cafes and of course the jewel in the crown that is The Wedgewood Rooms all taking part. There’s no ignoring that there were issues with the door staff at one venue, which was a huge shame and quite unprecedented so unexpected for all. However, I understand that this is being addressed so won’t dwell on it here. It’s fair to note that generally and elsewhere, everyone involved was welcoming and friendly, as has always been my experience at Icebreaker, and they shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush.

More new acts to me included slick electro-rock outfit Dronningen (above) and Van Gosh (below and header) who ran away with the best-dressed award, their costumes only momentarily distracting from the fact that they’re actually really accomplished musicians.

In what was undoubtedly the hottest venue on the street (felt like in the world at the time to be honest but that may be a minor exaggeration), Beige (below) played a great set of hazy rock filled tracks at Back to the Belgrave – previously Acapulco, previously Al Burrito, always very hot in there whatever it’s been called!

For those with a penchant for glam and The Slits, Brighton’s Slant provided just the thing (above and below right), and local alt rock band Broken Links (below left) made a big impression on a big stage.

And a happy way to close my night was with the fabulous Arxx at The Fox (below and centre above), a powerful duo prepping with lucky star jumps, playing a stomping set and getting a deservedly appreciative response from the crowd.

Every festival has its niche, and for Icebreaker the opportunity to showcase unsigned acts is always one that it takes to the max. Here’s hoping that the planned summer event will be able to go ahead this year. Thanks to all involved for another top day out.

You can keep up with Icebreaker events here

Words / photos by Callum / Siobhan

4th February 2022