By Amanda Cunningham, Rock At Night London Correspondent
The Common People Festival-Oxford
The Common People Festival is now in it’s second year and all the signs are that it will grow in popularity in years to come. The weather forecast wasn’t good, but so wrong, not a welly or brolly in sight as the sun shone down on the 15,000 strong crowd both Saturday and Sunday.
At the common stage the line-up couldn’t have been more varied on both days. Chuck in Mr Motivator, The Chuckle Brothers and some Chas and Dave to the already incredible line-up (Duran Duran, Primal Scream, Public Enemy and many more), surely that’s covered the ‘something for everyone’ scenario?.. Some people consider Chas and Dave to be a novelty, but none can argue they get a crowd going with crowd pleasing favourites such as Rabbit, The Sidebooard Song and Aint no Pleasing You. Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock may be getting on in years but they continue to enroll new young legions of fans.
Whilst Jamie Lawson has had chart success with “Wasn’t Expecting That” and “Cold in Ohio”, this set was an interesting choice, with the crowd in anticipation for “Wasn’t Expecting That”, a rather non-festival attribute, but of course, totally sold the audience in a weirdly, uplifting way.
Pop crossover-queen Katy B didn’t seem to make the impact I had hoped, could this be down to the fact she sang to backing tracks? Having said that, the vast cross over in crowd genre meant there was still a huge slab of the ‘audience pie’ happily bopping along.
Duran Duran were just the band to tip the spirits of the crowd. Having been one of the biggest bands of the eighties, they have continued to produce relevant material that sits nicely amongst their classics. Looking fit and sharp, they control the stage and the audience as only seasoned professionals could. Hit after hit never fail to please – “Planet Earth”, “Notorious”, “Hungry Like The Wolf”, “New Moon On Monday” and their most recent big hit “Reach Up For The Sunrise”. The crowd were in their element as the boys went through their whole back catalogue finishing on “Rio”, an impressive ending firing cannons of confetti into the audience, the crowd went home happy!
The Cuban Brothers were nothing but spectacular to shoot and to watch, hilarity and stage presence full on, the crowd adored them, made a refreshing change, a possible odd throw-in, but had the perfect balance.
The Sugarhill Gang, an American hip hop group, known mostly for its 1979 hit “Rappers delight”, were a total delight, hugely energetic and charismatic throughout their much appreciated set, this group has to be the most unexpected highlight for me. These boys can do no wrong!
Gaz Coombes’ set on Sunday proved one of the hits of the festival. Refreshing and entertaining, a perfect breath of fresh air. Ex-Supergrass, Coombes has proved to be able to hold his own and continues to thrive with his fans.
Craig David’s reincarnation has been nothing short of ingenious and his new army fans are evident, showing him the respect he deserves as a superb performer. His set is slick and entertaining and evidence he may still be around for a long time yet.
Public Enemy ruled the stage for what seemed like an eternity, but this is excused due to the visual impact these guys have, the vocal history, the attitude and presence. They did good!
Primal Scream headlined the Sunday slot, stealing the show, the Scottish rock band originally formed in 1982 in Glasgow by Bobby Gillespie and Jim Beattie. Gillespie dressed nothing like your typical rocker, with a pink blazer and a flamboyant polka dot shirt, blurted out the bands classic hits with vivid interpretation and with a relaxed stage presence you would expect from such respected musical giants.
The weekend was an unmissable experience with a varied talented line-up, fantastic street food, stalls and attractions and the smaller stages. Common People will be here for a long time yet and judging by the crowd numbers this year will grow in popularity.
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