After the elation of London securing the 2012 Olympics subsided, there was probably one doubt that started creeping up in everyone's mind. There was a dark, fear-inspiring spectre looming over the success of the whole event. The 'Great' British weather. As a nation, we've come to have to adapt quickly to our infamously temperamental climate. In the last month alone we've endured both monsoon downpours and blistering sunshine within a day or two with each other- so were we going to let a bit of torrential rain dampen our spirits at the Emerging Icons stage's second day? Of course we bloody weren't- we're hard as nails.
It's hard to get upset about the weather when you've got a band like Annaca to keep you entertained. Attacking the Emerging Icons stage at the Olympic Park in a whirlwind of bright colours and rich, velvety sound; the Brighton lot transformed this serene section of the Olympic Park into a show-stopping cross between a Parisian cabaret and travelling Victorian theatre. Annaca herself becomes the rhythm rippling through the performance, moving with the style and grace of an actress consumed by passion for her performance. Sounds intense? Well, it was. And we loved it. There were a few squaddies getting into it too... so you heard it here first. Gypsy jazz are the Queen's forces genre of choice. Fact.
From one dazzling beauty to another, Raphaella and her band were up next. Creating a bubble of warmth and sunshine amid the greyness surrounding our amazing stage as a little pocket of pop music made a welcome addition to the day's schedule. It's not only their sound that's warm either- Raphaella ('You can find me on Facebook- my name's like the Ninja Turtle, but the girl version')is such a charming personality to be introduced to. To be present at one of her sets is to be made thoroughly welcome- she would most likely offer a brew and a biscuit if she could, but she's kinda a bit busy with the whole singing thing. And you may think that this is a poetic lie- but she literally did make the sun come out. Now that is impressive.
Much like Rebecca Adlington, Gymnast were diving straight into the deep end with their performance... as it was the first ever live set in this incarnation. Don't say we never bring you exclusives. The ex-Mayhew duo's blend of chilled electronic beats, recorded strings and whimsical vocals created a real sense of atmosphere amongst the wild flowers in our organic nook of the Olympic Park. Having travelled down from the sunny climes of Manchester, this was a far cry from anything that Shaun Ryder or Ian Brown would ever be found peddling. Think less 'She Bangs The Drums' and more 'She Gently Caresses A Cello'.
Cranking the sound up a bit was the delightfully rowdy Gentleman Starkey. They may be one of our 'Emerging' Icons, but they really are one of those acts so steeped in professionalism that you feel should surely have been signed by now. Having spent a few years blowing the live circuit to smithereens under the weight of their garage punk infused rock n' roll, they are the very definition of 'tight' when it comes to their musicianship. The audience were completely theirs til the very last vocal had been growled and every last riff had been riffed.
Closing the stage by the light of the moon was an enrapturing performance by the very lovely Sean Kennedy. He came down all the way from Scotland for the occasion- the greatest commitment of travel by a highlander since The Proclaimers walked 500 miles. Armed with only his guitar, some personal stories and his instantly likeable demeanour, Sean ended the evening with the same effect that a big mug of cocoa and a hug would. Bloody marvellously. Slinging in a cheeky cover of 'Raspberry Beret' went down particularly well with our evening crowd who kept the night's chill at bay by indulging in a little bit of movement. It's never too late for a bit of dancing.
It's hard to believe that we've still got nearly two weeks worth of artists to see when the standard has already been set so high. So far, every single act has blown us away... but we can't wait to see what's up next...