“A touch of California sunshine in Brighton” Together The People Review | 3/09/16 – 4/09/16
Preston Park, Brighton
Sat 3 & Sun 3 September, 2016
Together The People returned for a second year with a line-up spanning several decades’ worth of music, attracting a diverse festival audience – from babies to pensioners – to Brighton’s Preston Park over two days.
A UK festival exclusive to mark the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys’ seminal album Pet Sounds was a real coup for Together The People (and on co-founding member Al Jardine’s birthday too!). So it was no surprise that on the Saturday, the average age of the audience was older than at many other festivals.
Earlier on the Saturday, Gaz Coombes took to the main stage on his own to perform several tracks from his critically acclaimed debut solo album, ‘Matador’, alongside stripped back versions of Supergrass tracks ‘Moving’ and ‘Caught By The Fuzz’. Whilst Coombes’ voice was in strong form throughout, he was rather lost on such a large, sparse stage performing a set that would be better suited to a smaller, more intimate setting.
Unfortunately, by the time that Australian quarter Hiatus Kaiyote came on to the main stage after Coombes, the heavens opened with many seeking shelter at the smaller stages and in the bar area. A real pity as their soulful funk suited the festival perfectly and would have won them many new fans.
However, it was Brian Wilson that most came for and thankfully the rain had abated by the time he took to the stage with original member Al Jardine, plus Blondie Chaplin alongside the touring band.
Opening tracks ‘California Girls’ and ‘I Get Around’ drew cheers with people descending to the stage from all around. Despite Brian Wilson’s weaker voice and slower movements, he seemed to enjoy himself and relax as the evening went on. Having such a tight band helped to carry him through any weaker moments with Al Jardine’s son providing the perfect harmonies to showcase the sublime material and by the time the beautiful ‘God Only Knows’ was finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
After performing ‘Pet Sounds’ in its entirety, the set finished with feel-good hits including ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Barbara Ann’ and ‘Surfin’ USA’ to bring a touch of California sunshine to cold, wet Brighton.
On the second day, Mali’s Songhoy Blues provided the perfect Sunday afternoon vibes thanks to the soulful funk of their acclaimed ‘Music in Exile’ album which saw singer Aliou Touré inviting the energetic crowd to dance along.
Peter Hook performing with his band The Light was one of the biggest surprises of the festival. His set-list which included classic Joy Division tracks alongside New Order hits ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Transmission’, worked perfectly, attracting a large crowd of all ages, dancing and signing along. Dedicating final track ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ to Primal Scream’s Robert Young who passed away in Hove in 2014 made for a touching finale.
Despite opening with two B-Sides, Suede had the audience in the palm of their hand throughout their set. Brett Anderson threw himself enthusiastically around the stage (and into the crowd) as they played anthems ‘Trash’, ‘So Young’ and ‘Metal Mickey’ to a hugely appreciative audience.
Anderson also dedicated a stripped back ‘The Next Life’ to his mother, who had died 27 years previously to the day, incredibly moving, especially with its opening line “See you in the next life”. An acoustic version of ‘She’s In Fashion’ saw Anderson invite the audience to sing along, adding that “singing is just shouting with confidence”!
Closing with ‘New Generation’, Suede proved that they are just as able to put on a spectacular show as the newer bands coming through. Suede’s first performance in Brighton in some time, hopefully it won’t be so long before we see them again.
A very Brighton festival that successfully caters to all ages, hopefully Together The People will return with a bang in 2017.