Southampton has had a busy few weeks. Staying in the Premier League, hosting the Stones on Tuesday and today besieged by a nice boutique festival run by those nice and lovely Bestival People.
Common People, split between here and Oxford over two days, has cleverly balanced a lineup that treads the line between hipster cool and mainstream popularity. Where else would you see Lily Allen, Sparks and James on the same bill?
With the huge competition to festivals, and not just for lineups, how does Common People stack up? It's environmentally friendly as you cannot drive to or park near Southampton Common (though the city has a decent park-and-ride) and the site is nicely contained within the Common - the Uncommon stage and the kids section are tucked in the corners and still accessible enough to catch the main acts if you wish. Some of the food stalls were standard festival fare; was annoying that many didn't take cards considering the cash points on site charged £3.50 per withdrawal which is scandalous. Still felt like a nice Town fair with rides and local stalls, with the occasional massive mainstream act playing a set the other end.
It's nicely pitched at families; kids, parents, the middle-aged. Toilets are ample and food is festival standard of mac and cheese opposite village bakery gluten-free cakes. Quintessentially British, we are treated to both baking hot sunshine and deluges of intermittent rain.
As for the music itself - The Sherlock's - boy, are they young and boy are they loud! But! they have a good old fashioned rock band sensibility. They remind me of The Futureheads.
Sparks; so nice to see them at a boutique festival! Fresh from their filmed Kentish Town concert directed by Edgar Wright, I'm pleased to report they didn't just shut up and play the hits, with many cuts from new chart-bursting album Hippopotamus (They still play Number 1 Song In Heaven and This Town Ain't...) Dressed in pink and black matching uniforms, it's a shame the kids of Southampton aren't versed in Sparks. It's a joy to those that are.
All Saints are still back and still great and they look great and sound great. The crowd really turn out for them and we all find ourselves singing along to Chili Peppers covers or when they perform their own classics like Pure Shores.
James have really brought the men of the crowd to Common People. A headline set they deliver. They've rebranded themselves so well into a modern spiritually conscious new-wave ethos (albeit hamfisted) that you forget that their biggest, most popular hit involved Sitting Down. They even play that, despite asking the audience not to tell Oxford. Songs from the new album are also unleashed; an album that Tim Booth promises to be "fucking amazing".
And onto Lily Allen! She's back - new album - new polarising brand-of-Lily-Allen that seems to bring out everyone's best and worst - and yet she smashes her performance tonight. No Shame, released in a week or so, has ten cuts for the crowd - who all seem to know the words to Three and Trigger Bang. Let's be honest, excitement maxes out when she plays Smile or Fuck You. Despite her vulnerable confessions that intro each song, it's palpable that Lily is in her element and enjoying herself.
And then the heavens opened with about 15,000 lightning strikes in two hours - but the day wasn't spoiled and Common People is a delightful lil' festival.
latest on this festival
Common People Southampton 2018 review
line-ups & rumours