Originally posted on Noise Cannon: http://noisecannon.com/2015/06/01/common-people-part-two-240515/
It’s the second and final day of Common People and the magic is still going. There seems to be a greater range of artists on today’s line up and subsequently there are many different kinds of people walking around. Seeing a range of characters all revelling in the same joy is a sense of magic in itself and we haven’t even taken into account the music yet.
The weather is a little cooler but the acts are still shit hot – there’s only so much we can say about a DJ set but you can bet the entirety of the Big Top tent are eating out the palm of Rob Da Bank’s hands, as if praising their King. Let’s face it, if he could rule a world like he could rule Common People, people would be falling at his feet at every opportunity. Most memorable however, is the wonderfully astounding Grace Jones, pushing boundaries left, right, and center, not just stealing the show but outright owning it.
This four piece are like ’90s indie grunge shaken up with some finely tuned attitude, and though frontman Connor Smith comes on complaining of a hangover, their performance is full throttle energy. “Let’s ‘ave it, let’s ‘ave it,” Smith shouts to the crowd, and sure enough, they give it, and the crowd has it. They are the epitome of those who partied hard at Common People on Saturday but are still raring to go on Sunday, filling the Uncommon Stage with gut wrenching vocals and penetrating rhythms.
THE CUBAN BROTHERS
Wow. There’s funk, there’s soul, but more than anything The Cuban Brothers certainly entertain. Phallic references and sexism are sugar coated in the undeniable charisma of lead Brother, Miguel Mantovani, who revels in showing off to the crowd and poking fun at the parents of young ones, raising an eyebrow at his inappropriate (yet highly entertaining) behaviour. It’s not all about Mantovani however, his group today is completed with three dancers, the youngest of which he refers to as ‘One Erection’ and is definitely a favourite among the females, young and old alike. Their dancing is off the wall, and they make sure all eyes are on them. It’s something a little different to your average band performing their songs, and as Mantovani strips down to just his underwear, exclaiming he has three testicles, their performance draws to an end, leaving you with the haunting image of his junk ferociously shaking around.
In most bands, the drummer can often take the back seat, but not for two-piece Slaves. These two are in it together and you can forget taking a seat at all as drummer Isaac Holman remains standing while offering the most interaction with the crowd. Holman and guitarist Laurie Vincent come rough, raw, and ready, yelling at the crowd and generally making a bit of a racket as they bounce off each others’ humour on stage. Nevermind ‘Feed The Mantaray’, Slaves feed the crowd as a friend of theirs runs on stage dressed as a manta ray before throwing himself at the people. It’s a fun-filled set and even Holman can’t help but laugh as Vincent humorously whimpers lyrics from ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’. Tipped to be one of the best new bands to come out of 2015, these guys are powerful with the crowd at their feet, yet they still manage to come across relatable, as if they’re two guys you’ve bumped into at your local pub.
YEARS AND YEARS
It’s time for some pop, and sure enough, Years and Years serve it with a side of indie and house that sets them apart from your average pop group. They are well in their element and take their first ever main stage slot firmly in their stride. Frontman Olly Alexander not only expresses the music through vocals, but also the twisting and turning of his body, as if his favourite song has just come on in the club.
It’s clear from here that Alexander, along with his bandmates, is fully invested in their music and they aren’t afraid to show how much they enjoy it themselves. Mid set he sits down at a keyboard to slow down to something calmer, yet there still remains peppy spirits through little snippets of electronica. They might be pint-sized musicians but their music is huge, filling Southampton Common with dynamic melodies and vocals that hit impressive pitches.
BAND OF SKULLS
Probably one of the biggest bands on the bill to have come out of Southampton, Band of Skulls truly bring it home, entering the stage while guitarist Russell Marsden strums along to ‘All The Saints’ in homage to the city’s football team. This then transitions into ‘Hoochie Coochie’ with riffs, basslines, and drumbeats all being ridden hard. Band of Skulls command the stage as they perform some of their biggest songs with a difference. Their set is deep and rich, with the simplicity of slower moments in ‘Sweet Sour’ creating a whole new sultry sound, proving this band to be adaptable and forever growing.
Band of Skulls may offer a huge, dominating sound across the Common but they have not forgotten their roots; Marsden gives a shout out to all the venues in Southampton who have helped them to get where they are today, and the local pride is blooming. Much like they opened with a reference to the football team, drummer Matt Hayward dons his Saints shirt for an extended version of final song ‘Death by Diamonds and Pearls’, closing the set on a high.
Having played at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Norwich on the same day, there’s some concern that Clean Bandit might not make it. Nevertheless, they light up the stage with an abundance of vitality. The group kick up a party on stage that channels through the crowd via soaring vocals and the striking elegance of the violin, with each member shining in their own way. Standout songs are ‘Real Love’ and ‘Rather Be’, putting the crowd into full on sing-a-long mode as the band perform with glee and great showmanship. Like Years and Years, they find themselves dancing to their own music, not in a choreographed way but more like ‘Hell yeah we did well with this one’. They are not big-headed mind, just clearly in tune with their own sound, their passion for music and performing shining through the entire set.
What. A. Woman. Recently turned 67, Miss Grace Jones parties harder than anyone else over the weekend. She comes out on stage decked out in what seems to be a cat suit from a distance, but get closer and it becomes apparent she’s barely dressed – she’s wearing a corset and thong with a white pattern painted all over her nude body. She stands on a podium, fully in control of the crowd as she croons deeply and seductively.
For the next song Jones dons a cape and steps up towards a higher podium, fully dominating the entire Common. Her ensuing diva moments are wholly acceptable, even to the point where she’s demanding a drink, “or a spliff, shall I say a spliff would be better.” Though she may not have been granted her herbal narcotics, her cries of “Can I have a glass of wine baby please?” are answered as she kicks off a little romantic number, looking gorgeous with said glass of wine in hand.
Jones is not only versatile but timeless, going from dancing in a grass skirt with a male pole dancer, to wearing a big white head piece with a pony tail and being carried directly in front of the crowd. It is also apparent she has more than one cape in her array of costume changes and even as she falls over, she’s truly amazing.
Regardless of her music being to your taste, she’s an incredible woman to watch and a particular favourite costume change is the disco ball hat. She looks ready to party, to be the centre of attention, and the sight of all the lights reflecting off her head just elevates her status further. Then, as she closes the set with ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, Jones astounds us all with the power of a hula-hoop, maintaining the motion throughout the whole track, as she sings her heart out and moves across the stage. The word impressive just doesn’t cut it.