The Great Escape Festival announces 150 new names including legends The Pretenders.

With a dense lineup designed to be read and re-read providing constant treasures, get set for a chaotic four days.

The Murder Capital by James Kelly | Words: Lloyd Bolton

We have made no secret about how excited we are for the 2023 edition of Britain’s most unpredictable festival, The Great Escape, which runs this year from 10th to 13th of May. Known for its showcases of the most exciting breaking acts and for taking over the whole of Brighton with unlikely pop-up gigs, it is a unique opportunity to experience the dazzling spectrum of new British music. Our look at the ‘First Fifty’ acts announced showed up what was already an incredible and diverse bill, with acts like The Last Dinner Party, Jessica Winter, Grove and Ethan P. Flynn all catching our eye.

Though our main focus lies firmly on the up-and-comers breaking new ground and fighting to justify their existence, we could not help letting out a collective gasp of delight at the announcement that punk legends The Pretenders have been added to The Great Escape’s list of headliners. It is an interesting frame for such a performance, the indomitable Chrissie Hynde contrasting with a slew of younger acts aspiring to make a similarly distinctive mark on music history.

Among the next rung of bigger names added to the bill, we find Hard of Hearing favourites The Murder Capital, whose January album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ we absolutely loved. Another key name is I. Jordan, the North-East DJ rapidly taking over the airwaves across Radio 1 and 6 Music. They are one of the acts fronting this year’s The Late Escape, the late night shows at Patterns on the Friday and Saturday of the festival. Further unmissable big names include Sorry, PVA and Billie Marten, to mention only very few.

Divorce by Rosie Sco

Digging deeper into the lineup, the enthralling anarchic Fat Dog can be seen sniffing after a repeat of their work at last November’s Mutations Festival, which made them the talking point of the weekend. The fresher face of Freddy Merkky also slips into the bill, invited after success in the festival’s apply-to-play system and looking to justify their faith. On the slightly softer side, Nottingham-based Americana-tinged indie band Divorce look to build on what was already a zero-to-one-hundred 2022.

We could go on and on and on. This is a lineup to read and re-read, constantly throwing out favourite names among a huge spray of acts you’ve never heard of across alternative and mainstream new music. All will be on their best behaviour, looking to make a lasting impression amongst the constant stream of attention-grabbing new acts. The only thing we can do in preparation for this whirlwind four days is to keep the festival playlist on shuffle and follow our ears.