When I was told my photography pass for Common People Southampton as confirmed, I actually wasn’t sure whether to be happy or a little bit worried. You see, I’d read some pretty bad reviews of last years event, not about the music, but the security and the way a minority of the crowd had behaved.
Also, the lineup was, full of artists I’d never heard of, except for a DJ called Pete Tong.. A DJ with an orchestra, I mean how good could that be?
With the event happening just 5 minutes drive away from home, it’s the perfect location for me. Getting in on day one was easy, I was there early, and picked up my wrist bands from the box office, and then my pit pass from the press area backstage. There was a small press tent with a scattering of tables and chairs, power, and wifi.
After sweet talking the lady with the tea and coffee stand into giving me a deal, I spent most of the day either shooting from the pit (audience and stage), or lurking around the VIP area.
Photographing was made that bit tougher because of the 7 foot high stage, and lots of lights with black plastic bags over them (presumably for the headline act much later in the day).
The time keeping and stage management couldn’t be faulted, although the same couldn’t be said of one of the acts, Stefflon Don, who was late, blaming traffic. They let her play a shortened set, but turned off the sound when she tried to play an extra song (one assumes she was told to get off after 2 songs?). It amused me.
The acts came and went, some good, some, let's just say not exactly to my tastes. Becky Hill, Kassassin Street, Loyle Carner and Tom Odell. The highlight for me was Elvana, which on paper sounded terrible, “an Elvis fronted Nirvana”, but the lead singer was utterly brilliantly bonkers. Top entertainment.
The same couldn't be said of the DJ set by Faithless. An hour of music from someone who occasionally pointed into the air, hidden away towards the back of the stage. Yeh, I simply didn’t get it.
Finally on day one was the headline act of Pete Tong and a 65 piece orchestra. The lights were set, and there were oh so many extra lights just for this. We’d been told a laser display would start after the first three songs. It was so good, so worth waiting for. Tough to photograph though, with Pete up high at the back of the stage.