High hopes were realised and surpassed: Chichester has got a fantastic new addition to its arts calendar.
The Feeling have always been a terrific album band; on Saturday night, they showed they are also a genuinely-thrilling live band with a superb set which crowned a great day.
Priory Park Festival organiser Robin Bextor has rightly combined the locals with the big names, and the result was a festival which hit the ground running. Inevitably it came with all sorts of echoes of the defunct Real Ale and Jazz, for so long such a popular part of a Chichester summer.
But at the same time Bextor drew on his contacts (and indeed family) to create something which was distinctively itself.
Saturday early evening kicked off with John Otway who seemed perfectly happy in a world entirely of his own creating – a comedy turn which involved all sorts of antics and peaked with a fabulous Bob Dylan impression.
And then it was over to P P Arnold. “Who?” was the reaction of plenty of people, and maybe that accounts for a set in which the name-dropping at times seemed just a touch excessive. She should have let the music do the talking in a session which grew and grew as she won the crowds round with terrific charisma and charm – and a great, great voice.
And then The Feeling took over – and did so thrillingly. Think Feeling and you might think poppy and maybe just a touch light-weight. Live, they are awesome, a fabulous band which pack a powerful punch while bonding effortlessly with their audience.
Dan Gillespie Sells insisted he was no public speaker, but as a frontman, he’s got incredible presence as the band generously delivered on their big hits while also throwing in some of the newer numbers.
A big highlight, though, was a medley they did from the music they grew up listening to via their parents: The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, Queen and Pink Floyd. It was brilliantly done by a band at the height of their powers – one of the very best gigs I’ve been to in years.
On the basis of its first showing, we’ve all got to hope the Priory Park Festival is here to stay.
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