Returning to Southampton Common for a third year, Bestival’s Common People was back with another eclectic line-up, showcasing music across a whole range of genres. The weather was looking a bit muggy, but at least there wasn’t too much rain over the weekend- not that that could dampen people’s spirits! Here’s what went down…
I arrived on the Saturday to the sounds of Southsea indie five-piece Kassassin Street. Their enthusiasm, despite playing to quite a small crowd, was excellent to watch and Southampton welcomed them with open arms, even though they’re Portsmouth lads!
After listening to 30 seconds of Stefflon Don’s expletives – who came on about 20 minutes – I was able to check out Isle of Wight indie-electro outfit Nakamarra on The Joiners’ curated Uncommon Stage. Their hard-work certainly seems to paying off as about 10 people turned into quite a busy tent at the end of their set. Heading back to the Common Stage, I thought it would be a good idea to check out TV talent show The Voice’s arguably most successful contestant, Becky Hill, who has been having great success in the charts. Her voice is excellent, but it didn’t really seem much of performance – perhaps she could have done with a full, live band, as opposed to just a DJ.
Next up was Loyle Carner, who’s making serious movements in the UK hip-hop scene at the moment and, although I didn’t know any of the lyrics, it seemed I was in the minority down the front. He was followed by Tom Odell, who strangely looked a bit like Elton John behind his piano. Odell’s showmanship was also similar to that of the legend’s as well and his set provided one of the sing-along moments of the weekend when he played his hit, Another Love.
Following a DJ set from Faithless legend Sister Bliss, day 1 of Common People 2017 was brought to a close by, as it was billed, Pete Tong Presents Ibiza Classics Performed by the Heritage Orchestra Conducted by Jules Buckley. Try saying that after a few drinks! It must be said though: it was a spectacle. Playing anthems like Insomnia and Right Here, Right Now and being joined on-stage by the likes of Jamie Principle and Ella Eyre, Pete Tong and co were a sight to behold and, for me, it was the stand-out set of the weekend.
Day 2 started with a bit of a shower on-site, so it was straight to the sheltered Uncommon Stage. Unfortunately for me, an incredibly heavy rock band called Gun Shy were on and, although I’m sure they’re brilliant in their genre, it just wasn’t for me. After the showers eased, I headed over to the Common Stage to catch local act Signals and I was surprised to see Nadia Rose playing – about 1 and half hours after she was scheduled to play. She was playing a set on one side of the stage while Signals were setting up and was getting a little annoyed that they were making noise while they were setting up – something they were perfectly entitled too. It seemed a little unprofessional from where I was standing.
Signals were excellent. They’ve clearly been at it a while as there was great chemistry between all members and lead signer Ellie Price’s excellent vocals were accompanied perfectly by a tight rest of the band. Next up was Scottish star Amy Macdonald, who showed fantastic charisma on-stage and had the crowd in the palm of her hands throughout. Her performance of This Is The Life was a particular highlight.
Heading back over to the Uncommon Stage, it was time for local rock band Cassava to take to the stage. There’s a lot of hype about this band at the moment and I’m pleased to say they deserve it. It’s always great to see people singing the lyrics of a local band and it was great to see a bit of rowdiness as well – much to the despair of the security! Later in the evening on the same stage it was time for Blaenavon to come on – another one of my big anticipations of the weekend. I’ve followed this band for over a year now and they’ve come such a long way since then. My fan-boy kicked in and I ended up being in the middle of the front row and it was an enthralling performance throughout – expect even bigger things from these guys in the future.
Closing the weekend’s proceedings on the Common Stage was a DJ set from Groove Armada and chart-topper Sean Paul. Although Sean is perhaps better known for featuring on different artists’ tracks, it was great to see him out there on his own, quite literally working his way through his huge back catalogue. I must admit, I left a bit early as I had seen him at Bestival last year, but it was a great end to what was another fantastic weekend. And it looks like Common People will return in 2018 – get in!