Festival Review: Common People Southampton 2016

Festival goers to the second annual Common People festival, held at Southampton Common on 28th and 29th May, were welcomed by one of the hottest weekends of the year so far and were treated to a world class line-up of musical talents. After a short hop over on the Red Jet and a trip on a surprisingly frequent and reliable shuttle bus, we were at the festival site in no time, ready to enjoy a weekend of fantastic music.

The crowds were gathering in front of the main stage as we arrived, just in time for television legends The Chuckle Brothers, who are now a staple of the Sunday Best family. Throughout their set, the comedy duo encouraged the crowds to chant their famous catchphrase “to me, to you”, incorporating it in every way possible.  It was obvious that Paul and Barry were miming most of the words, but this only added to their comedic value. Arriving onstage 45 minutes late, due to being stuck in traffic apparently, rapper Lady Leshurr was next up. What surprised me was that so many people knew the words to her songs about ‘brushing teeth’ and ‘crispy bacon’, all of which went straight over my head.

Dubbed by many as ‘the founders of rap’, The Sugarhill Gang played a shortened set, as a result of Lady Leshurr arriving late, but still received a phenomenal response from the crowd. They were followed by Ghostpoet who, although had an undeniably brilliant voice, performed quite a slow and ‘samey’ set. Former Supergrass lead singer Gaz Coombes performed next with quite an upbeat performance, contrary to the slow performance I was expecting. Another rap group followed, this time it was the turn of the legendary Public Enemy. The five-time Grammy-nominated godfathers of hip-hop gave one of the most energetic performances of the day, leaving the thousands who watched chanting for more.

Gaz Coombes
Gaz Coombes performing at Common People Southampton 2016

Special guests Primal Scream then performed to an audience whose average age must have been about 14. This meant for quite a strange atmosphere where groups created mosh pits, a situation in which the 80’s rockers probably aren’t used to. Their ‘special guest’ slot meant they had a 75 minute set, which included hits Movin’ On UpLoaded and Rocks. As expected, the 14 year-olds stayed on for headliner Craig David, who seemed overwhelmed that he had been given the opportunity to headline his hometown of Southampton. The singer-come-DJ brought his TS5 show to The Common, which featured recent chart hits Nothing Like This and When The Bassline Drops, as well as a cover of Justin Bieber’s Sorry.

We arrived a little later on the Sunday, but were able to check out New Forest newbies The Magic Gang, who performed to a surprisingly large crowd, with a number of loyal fans sporting their t-shirts. National treasures Chas & Dave then played a hit-filled set, featuring rock ‘n’ roll anthems Gertcha and top 10 hit Rabbit. The crowd were having a right ol’ knees up, and the duo looked like they were enjoying themselves too.

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Chas & Dave performing at Common People Southampton 2016

The Cuban Brothers, who have apparently performed at every Bestival and Common People event, were up next, bringing with them their witty songs and the dance moves that makes them so popular. The crowd particularly enjoyed young dancer Domenico, but he refused their chants to take his top off. Instead, he changed into a glorified morph suit and the ladies certainly weren’t complaining. Next up was acoustic sensation Jamie Lawson, who is signed to Ed Sheeran’s label Gingerbread Man Records. His infectious vocals resonated throughout his performance and his rendition of number 1 single Wasn’t Expecting That proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend.

Jamie Lawson
Jamie Lawson performing at Common People Southampton 2016

The penultimate act on the day was drum ‘n’ bass pioneer Katy B, who claimed that the crowd were much better than that of the previous day at Common People Oxford. She performed hits from her latest album Honey, as well as chart hits Lights On and Katy On A Mission. Closing the weekend were none other than pop legends Duran Duran, performing hits from their fourteenth studio album Paper Gods and some of their most popular hits from ‘back in the day’. Their spectacular set also featured confetti cannons and giant beach balls, creating the party atmosphere which made their music so popular back in the vivid 80’s. A lot of reformed bands ‘lose it’ a little over the years, but Duran Duran proved that age is no barrier when it comes to music and played arguably the most memorable set of the weekend.

Reading the news the next day, it seemed that organisers had trouble with scanning tickets and that there were a number of security issues over the weekend. None of these problems were apparent to me at the time and, from my perspective, it seemed to be a brilliantly organised, family-friendly weekend, featuring some of the greatest artists from around the world. Roll on 2017!

Check out our highlights video of the weekend below: