Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Oxford’s South Park was a-washed with vibrant colours and culinary aromas as people flocked to spend their bank holiday at Common People. From the same family as Bestival, the team created this two day family friendly extravaganza filled with good music and excitement for all ages.

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At the top of the field was placed a magical Alice in Wonderland inspired children’s play village. Teepees and colourful giant flowers hanging from the sides overlooking the shaded area, encompassing story telling tents, yoga and circus tricks as well as table tennis for the older ones and our editors favourite Peter Rabbit appearing at intervals to cries of joy and beaming smiles.

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Adults were swayed by gin tents, culinary delights, acrobatic shows and top world class performers across the four stages. The Carnival stage boasted neon elephants and and giant hands of Fatima, lights strung from the giant lamp shades offering shade for those who needed it as temperatures soared. Sporting a New Delhi type shanty town look, dance and Drum and Bass legends such as Big Fish Little Fish, General Levy and Fred V kept the ravers entertained through the day, balloons being chucked into the crowd as smoke machines and deep dirty beats filled the air.

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The big top style ‘Uncommon tent’ boasted live music from upcoming acts, Oxford’s very own Candy Says showcased their pixie like sounds and rebel tunes whilst in the humid tent, the two piece band fronted by JuJu Sophie captured the audience as they escaped from the blazing sun outside.

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Revellers at the main stage joyfully cheered as they were warmed up before the main headliners joined the stage. American threesome The Jungle Brothers kept the crowd rocking with favourites such as ‘Straight Outta The Jungle’ and ‘J-Beez Coming Through’, playfully chatting with the crowd in between spitting crazy beats after following a set from upcoming Hak Baker who recently supported Plan B on his come back tour.

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If the crowd weren’t quite hyped enough Latin beats and naughty innuendos came straight all the way from the Costa Del Torquay with festival favourites The Cuban Brothers. Miguel, Archenio and Kenny The Expletive had the crowd in stitches with their slapstick comedy routine and acrobatic dance routines wowing the crowd. The threesome that could probably be described as Keith Lemons long lost Cuban cousins or a dance version of Steel Panther kept the crowd on the go from the off, teaching kids words that probably aren’t acceptable for school and hitting onto Moms in the crowd whilst playing the hits that keep you on your feet ‘Apache’ and Fatman Scoop’s ‘Be Careful’ amongst those, it is easy to see why so many of the top festivals want to book these crazy cats.

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Saturday’s disco theme was all about fun, boasting the worlds biggest bouncy castle, kids were kept entertained whilst the 10,000 revellers listened to the soundtracks of their childhood. With 42 years in the music business and 21 albums, British reggae stalwarts Aswad brought the sunny vibes to the day. Lead singer Tony Robinson introduced the band as the crowd went wild to summer smashes ‘Shine’ and ‘Don’t Turn Around’ singing along for nostalgia before it was time for lots of sequins, sparkles and cheesy dancing, taking a break from the Rivers of Babylon Boney M graced the stage.

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The disco favourites were fronted by original member Maizie Williams, who at 67 years old still looked as young as ever, complete with white flares and sparkly tops the Euro Caribbean favourites had their crowd on their feet singing along from the classic disco synth sound of ‘Sonny’ to plowing through favourites ‘Ma Baker’, ‘Daddy Cool’ and ‘Hooray Hooray’.

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As the field turned into scenes reminiscent of a family wedding or karaoke session down the local, their bubblegum pop vocals had the crowd popping along with their encore of ‘Brown Girl’, ‘Daddy Cool’ and ‘Rasputin’ leaving the crowd fully warmed up for the final two acts of the day.

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After so much excitement dance electronic superstars Morcheeba were up next for some mellow tunes and chill out beats. Appearing in a fitted red and black multi lengthed design stunning lead singer Skye stunned the crowd with her angelic voice. The crowd gasped in awe as the London two piece performed classics ‘Blaze Away’, ‘Trigger Happy’ and ‘Enjoy The Ride’.

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With the day running so smoothly so far, it was a shame technical issues brought a delay to The New Power Generation’s set however that did not stop them performing to the max and having the crowd going wild from the off. As the strong mix of former members of Minneapolis legend Prince’s NPG band worked through the resolve the issues with a small soundcheck the crowd were in jovial spirits chanting “Oh we Oh” from Sign Of The Times and waiting excitedly. Along with the usual suspects of the ‘Purple Army’ who support these talented musicians religiously I got chatting to a woman next to me who asked me “What type of music would they play and would the NPG play Prince songs?” When I replied jokingly “Yes, I hope so”, the look on her face and squeal of excitement summed up the importance of why the ‘celebrate Prince’ shows are so important to keep up the legacy and bring the music that these guys also played a part in creating within there time in the band to a whole new generation of people.

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Having resolved sound issues the band graced the stage to cheers, Morris and Tommy taking place at keys, Kirky J proudly sat at the drums, having rescheduled plans to attend the UK shows, Sonny T cooling rocking his white bass and Tony M and Damon D at the front of the stage. Joining the band for the UK shows also came guitarist Kat Dyson, The Time favourite Chance Howard on keys and vocals who guested with Prince at the Ziggadome and NPG Hornz /Blackbyrd saxophonist Keith Anderson, who we’d like to give a special mention to after losing his mum in between the Oxford and Southampton show he carried on and gave it is all at day two in what must of been an emotional 24 hours for him.

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Just four months after his first NPG show, it was easy to see just why guest singer Mackenzie had been picked to join the legends on stage. As he jumped around the stage to the opening bars of Graffiti bridge favourite ‘New Power Generation’ the crowd hit fever pitch as he made his UK debut with the band.

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Following up with Tony rapping well known hit ‘Sexy MF’ it wasn’t long until the crowd were singing along and gyrating their hips. The super polished performance had something for everyone of all ages and left the crowd going wild as Chance took centre stage for ‘Sign Of The Times’ as Kirk Johnson’s drum solo was off the hook as they changed the lyrics to accompany it on this beautiful sunny Saturday.

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As the setlist slowed down Mackenzie payed an emotional filled tribute to the main man himself with ‘Nothing Compares 2U’, the track originally wrote and recorded by Prince before he gave it to Irish singer Sinead O’Connor. With tears in the crowd and voices singing in harmony Keith Anderson’s sax solo brought down the house to a rousing applause.

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The party didn’t stop NPG style as the well known chart hits such as ‘U Got The Look’ and ‘1999’ were mixed with fan favourites ‘Call The Law’, ‘Deuce and a Quarter’ and ‘Get Off’. The chemistry on stage was electric with Kat and Sonny both shredding amazing solos and Tommy and Morris looking the epitomes of coolness on the keys. The chemistry on the stage was electric as Damon and Mackenzie playfully gyrated their smooth moves on the stage, Damon sporting his trademark grin that would light up a room and polka dot waistcoat.

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Debuting for the first time in their setlist was ‘Sign Of The Times’ favourite ‘The Cross’. Mackenzie’s vocals were both beautiful yet haunting on the thirty year old track as goosebumps travelled through the crowd, the smooth sounds poured emotion as he hit the notes with passion. With the setlist coming to a premature end it was left for Chance and Mackenzie to bring the house down with ‘Purple Rain’, lighters flickering in the crowd and the crowd singing along, it was an apt end to an amazing performance that left the crowd wanting more and raising the bar for the final act.

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As Common People came to an end it was now time for sunshine, moonlight and good times as the crowd cheered for The Jacksons to appear on stage.

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In diamond encrusted sparkly suits the four remaining members of the pop royalty band appeared on stage to screams as the evening descended into darkness and twinkly lights filled the field from the other attractions in the picturesque festival.

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With over 250 years between them Jermaine, Marlon, Tito and Jackie kept the crowd on their feet as they plowed through the hits, showing off moves similar to late brother Michael’s stage routines.

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Jumping straight into all the hits the crowd were on their feet dancing along to the classics ‘Can You Feel It’, ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ and ‘Enjoy Yourself’. Bright neon graphics filled the stage as they performed a medley of crowd favourites from the early days ‘ABC’, ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Dancing Machine’ complete with nostalgic footage of the early Jackson 5 days.

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A video reel played of tributes with words by their parents Joe and Katherine before Tito took the stage to promote his new album coming out this year ‘Tito Time’.

Paying tribute to their missing member the brothers paid homage with ‘Gone Too Soon’ and ‘I’ll Be There’ in an emotional tribute showing solidarity leaving the audience swaying from side to side.

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As day one drew to a close it was time for the finale to end on a high as the brothers lit up the stage with ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’ and ‘Shake Your Body To The Ground’ the crowd shook as they ran along the barrier high fiving gleeful fans before bowing thank you and goodnight.

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See the complete photoset from Day One of Common People Festival here.

3 Responses to “DAY ONE – Common People Festival, South Park, Oxford, UK – 26th May 2018”

  1. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Gig Junkies Chat with The New Power Generation at Common People Festival Says:

    […] Hayley’s review of Day One of Common People Festival including NPG’s live […]

  2. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » The New Power Generation To Play Indigo at London’s O2 Arena Says:

    […] to the UK after two immense appearances at Common People Festival in May, musical director Morris Hayes brings the funk back for the opening night in London of a […]

  3. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » New Power Generation at The O2 Indigo, London, UK – 2nd August 2018 Says:

    […] the crowd clapping along as his vocals have gone from strength to strength since his UK debut at Common People Festival in May. Beaming with confidence and choreography on point he is fast becoming a fan […]

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