We are here at The Piper tonight for an acoustic Kid Kapichi set. Their first outing since March. That’s a long seven months for four lads who were on the cusp of something big as lockdown hit.

But before we talk about the band let’s deal with how the award of almost £1/4m of Arts Council funding to The Piper generated more than a little local debate.

Why so much? Why didn’t other venues or projects get help? How come a new venue gets support?

The answers to all of these questions are actually quite simple.

They received the amount they asked for because they demonstrated what it would be spent on – namely keeping the pub operating as a live music venue for the immediate future in the face of severe restrictions on performances and audience numbers…remembering that just because you have less guests doesn’t mean you have less staff. In fact to maintain the social distancing rules you need more than before… so financial margins get squeezed to the bone.

And why didn’t many other Hastings venues get funding? In a nutshell, very few applied. As the old adage goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

We’re only aware of one venue that applied but was unsuccessful in the town – and we are reliably informed that in terms of the number of potentially eligible venues Hastings had one of the lowest application rates in the country.

Lastly, on the matter of the venue being relatively new (in its current form), that just isn’t really relevant…but perhaps what does matter is that as well as being new, The Piper has set out on a mission to bring new and imaginative music programming to Hastings – and that is a brave, but much needed move.

There is no argument that we are awash with amazing musicians and bands.

But a healthy live music scene needs variety. And that can only be achieved by promoters and venues taking the financial risk of booking out-of-town acts on the belief that they are worth watching and the hope people will buy tickets.

This is what The Piper has said it will do – and before lockdown they opened their doors to their first slew of experimental and interesting bookings.

Now, however, with everything changed, the venue has relaunched with an initial cavalcade of homegrown artists. And this is a sensible early move as it gets otherwise wary guests through the doors to see what is on offer – and it also helps the local musical economy by giving our local bands a small but welcome income.

Kid Kapichi were an obvious choice to restart proceedings – after all they are quite literally the local poster boys of the live music scene…as anyone who has recently driven down Queen’s Road will have seen for themselves.

And the fact that tickets sold out almost before they went on sale came as no surprise to anyone.

We arrived early (6pm!) as recommended and settled onto our table as familiar face after familiar face trooped up the stairs to take their socially distanced places around the small stage.

This was never a big venue to start with – so with the new rules to adhere to the maximum capacity is now down to only about fifty or so.

Drinks are all table service and movement around the venue is restricted to toilet and cigarette breaks – masks a must.

Although a post on the KK facebook page had promised a support act it soon became evident that tonight would only see the boys playing – and in true acoustic spirit by the entire rhythm section had been left behind…leaving it to Jack and Ben to take us through some old faves and brand new tunes on guitar and keyboard alone.

The inclusion of new songs in the set prompted Jack to politely request no filming during the show to avoid breaking the surprise for others who’ve not yet heard the tunes. But to make up for that the pair struck a 10-second comedy photo pose to allow phones to snap up memories before the show proper began.

And it started with a bang with ‘Revolver’.

Big and round and bold – but thanks to a huge dollop of delay and reverb somehow ethereal – this is a timeless classic that works so well stripped back to its bare essentials that we’d love to have this acoustic version dropped into the middle of a full band set from time to time.

And the rest of the set continued to live up to this stonking opening number.

The last gig for Kid Kapichi may have been way back in March – but they’d not lost anything in the intervening time and everything sounded great… from the old faves to the brand new songs fresh out of the tin.

The almost Spanish guitar opening bars of ‘Working Man’s Town’ instantly grabbed our attention… but were counterpoised by the later vicious attack on the acoustic strings that accompanied ‘Sardines’ – which was dedicated to Paul on the front table, who, for those who know him well enough will know, truly has been through a shit time recently!

It was right around here that Ben hit the audience with a Bravestone-level Jumanji-style smolder that ought by rights to have set off all the smoke alarms and had the venue evacuated! That boy really knows how to turn up the heat with a cocked head and a raised eyebrow…

‘Puppet Stings’ and ‘Glitterati’ in quick succession further fanned the flames of an incendiary set that rounded off with a rather appropriate cover of The Smiths’ ‘Panic’ and the final track from the new album, which saw Ben drop the guitar and take to the keys for a tune that – along with the other new songs tonight – feel like we are to be treated to a long-player that might sit somewhere between Sound Affects and Setting Sons had it been released by The Jam.

Kid Kapichi have never failed to impress us with both style and substance… and tonight at The Piper they certainly continued on what is bound to be an upward trajectory once we finally escape the clutches of Covid.

In celebration of their debut album – ‘This Time Next Year‘ – Kid Kapichi will be performing two very special album release shows at the De La Warr Pavilion on the 5th and 6th February 2021.

To get first access to tickets pre-order the album ’This Time Next Year’ from Kid Kapichi’s website before 9pm GMT on Monday 2 November 2020 (no purchase necessary) – https://www.kidkapichi.com/

Saturday 5 February 2021: Kid Kapichi + Snayx

Sunday 6 February 2021: Kid Kapichi + Blabbermouth

Doors 7pm