Common People 2017 – review

Common People has firmly established itself as a mainstay of the festival scene - we went along to experience the early season vibe

It's surprising to realise that Common People over in Southampton (on the er..Common) is only three years old. 

It's perhaps less surprising when you realise that the festy is put on by the same people behind Bestival and Camp Bestival so the level of organisation and the sheer amount of stuff on show is testament to that depth of experience.

This two dayer combines big names and local acts to produce a great all round day only event that's a good way to get into the festival scene. It's less kid friendly than Camp, less full on than Bestival and a much more civilised experience for people that prefer their festival experience to come with the opportunity of sleeping in their own bed and using their own shower.

It was nice for us in that Southampton Common is a short jaunt from home and we arrived middayish on day 1. A few preps to do like fetching press passes and saying hello in the PR cabin and we were off to see what music they had to offer.

Our first main stage act was Elvana. So imagine Elvis singing Nirvana songs. nuff said.

Moving swiftly on from the ridiculous to the sublime via a tea stop came the revelation of the festival for me.

LST working the uncommon stage had power,pace,passion and presence and before I start sounding like a judge on the Voice let me say that the set from this local urban storyteller mixed the lyrical skills of a Kate Tempest with a live band and some epic sounds from DJ Sylva.

Definitely one to watch and if you can, go along and experience.

Talking of The Voice, that Becky Hill was on the main stage. Pretty, with a reasonable voice and lively on stage she did a good job of entertaining the crowd but I was struck by the power of TV. Would she be main stage but for an appearance on the box? Not sure and I'm probably not the one to judge as it wasn't really my sort of music. Ask the kids.

Much more my cup of tea is Loyle Carner and since we saw him over in Cornwall at Knee Deep life has changed a bit for the lad from Croydon as he's started getting a fair bit of backing from Radio 1/6 and a variety of independent stations. Deservedly so.

Carner used his boundless energy to make the big main stage his own and from my POV it was a challenge to keep him in frame. Loved the set though.

As a long time fan of Billy Bragg it was great to see another of my favourites of recent years turn up at CP.

Beans on Toast is a modern reincarnation of the Bragster with witty, poignant and thought provoking songs that make issue-folk a bit more accessible for the average youtube viewer.

BoT transfixed the too small uncommon stage and mixed in some of his older stuff with topical songs that hit today's political machinations on the head. One of my highlights of the day.

Back to the main stage then but not before some disappointing lamb and some lovely beer. Next up Tom Odell.

Now here I have to make a confession. I'm not a massive Odell fan. I was going to get some pics for the agency and to say I'd been but I was to be surprised.

Odell was pretty damn good to be fair. Lively, engaging and musically excellent he owned what must be a massive stage for a single performer. OK so he fills a bit of it up with a baby grand piano but let's be fair there's a lot of ground to cover - and cover it he did.

There's no doubt he's improved over the last few years and has matured into a much better main stage veteran and I for one have changed my view.

Something I haven't changed my view on is DJs. Or at least the pointlessness of photographing them.

Faithless turned up to do a nice DJ set on the main stage behind a black table and as I've only ever got one photo set of a DJ that I liked (Craig Charles) I largely gave it a miss. Wasn't hopeful for the Headliner Pete Tong either.

I consoled myself by enjoying The Manatees. Having seen these guys before I enjoyed their easy poppy indie style and despite playing at the same time as the headliner they drew a fair sized crowd.

Day 2 dawned and again a lazy start saw is finally rock up in the PM. Sadly the moment we picked a spot on the grass it began to hammer it down. A quick dive for cover and the rain eased, then started again and this was to be the story of the early part of the day.

Although I'd earmarked Amy MacDonald as my first must see I was pleasantly surprised by Signals on the main stage. Battling against the aforementioned inclement weather they ploughed through their stuff with aplomb. On the like pile.

Also on the like pile is The Dead Freights. A bit libertiney they sort of weave in some sixties sounds to a credible indie vibe to produce an interesting and intriguing sound. Again ones to watch.

Amy MacDonald made some crack about soft southerners not liking the rain and she was absolutely right. there's no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes. Good set. Difficult to photograph a small artist on a big high stage when she's behind a mic.

We've mentioned The Costellos before and it was a pleasure to see them again. Good set for a packed crowd and I was definitely not disappointed.

British Sea Power once again proved my theory that you can like the music but hate shooting the band and vice versa.

One might have hoped that they may have looked pleased to be there but unfortunately it appears that they weren't. Gaffer taping a few bits of bush culled from the local hedgerows onto the mic stands didn't really add any interest. Hmm.

Natives are a band that have developed a sizeable following in the area and a large number of the little natives were in the uncommon stage to see their heroes at work. A pleasure to both photograph and listen to with catchy tunes and an incredibly busy show on a small stage.

Common people had certainly saved the best for last as the weekend drew to a close. Sean Paul lit up the main stage with a set that got everyone in the arena jumping to his reggae-pop sounds. It was a pleasure to see a professional work and he certainly made us earn our corn as he darted about the stage. Paul engaged with every part of the massive crowd and there can't have been very many disappointed punters on the night.

Finally we get ejected from the pit and I troop off back to the uncommon stage. This has two notable benefits; firstly it's closer to where I parked the car and secondly (and much more importantly) it had The Deltorers headlining and wrapping up the evening.

I'll happily bore anyone who will listen about my love for the music of these guys and it's not hard to support a local band when they are of this quality and are improving at such a rapid rate. Without doubt this was the best performance I've seen them give and whilst the majority of the crowd had been hoovered up by Sean Paul, the chaps entered into their set full tilt and drew in a large number of dancing punters.
There were some highly dancey type people and I suspect many new Deltorers fans.

All too quickly the evening and thus the weekend drew to a close.

Once again the Common People crew had nailed it with a festival that was secure, but not heavy handed, well supplied but not over commercial and had the right blend of local and international artists to please the die hard music fan.


Elvana appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
LST appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
Becky Hill appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
Tom Odell appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
Pete Tong appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
The Manatees appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
Amy MacDonald appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017
Sean Paul headlining at Common people Southampton May 2017
Deltorers appearing on stage at Common people Southampton May 2017

Yon Gallery

As always no sneaky stealing of images for resale or commercial use. Smaller bands should ask nicely, bigger bands should pay me.

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