REVIEW: The Christians, Hugh Cornwell, Dodgy at Priory Park, Chichester

It's not often you can enjoy a trip back to the 70s, 80s and 90s all in one evening, but it was possible at Chichester's Priory Park Festival on Saturday.
Hugh Cornwell wows the Priory Park crowd / Picture by Steve BoneHugh Cornwell wows the Priory Park crowd / Picture by Steve Bone
Hugh Cornwell wows the Priory Park crowd / Picture by Steve Bone

Organisers had managed to attract three big-name acts for one night which delighted a big crowd as top tune after top tune was belted out under blue skies.

In fact if you'd arrived early enough (which I didn't) you'd have gone back to the 60s too with the Bog Rolling Stones evoking memories of Jagger and Co in their heyday.

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There's no finer British festival band around than Dodgy, in my view, and hearing them deliver Staying Out For The Summer, So Let Me Go Far, If You're Thinking Of Me and Good Enough - among some of their lesser-known tracks and new songs that stand up well to comparison to their 90s stuff - was wonderful as the sun beat down.

They love a bit of banter, do Dodgy, and observed halfway through their set that they might need to go round the crowd with a bucket collection to raise a few quid to pay for work on the Priory roof.

Drummer Matt Priest observed that this was a very English festival and he was right. Most were sitting on the grass or in their own chairs or on picnic blankets as Dodgy did their stuff - to begin with just one hardcore fan - in Matt's words, 'the long-haired nutter' - actually dancing. Happily he was joined by others as the familiar songs kept coming.

Next up was Hugh Cornwell and for me this was the night's highlight. I'd not seen him before and what a pro he is, both with his vocals and guitar work.

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His set was a mixture of his own solo stuff and tunes from his days as frontman of The Stranglers that still sound cutting edge and are still heard regularly today. We got Nice'n'Sleazy, Skin Deep, Always The Sun - then the familiar opening strains of No More Heroes whipped things up a few more notches. Walk On By was Hugh's encore - fabulous.

The headliners were another band I loved back in the day but had never seen live - The Christians. They didn't disappoint, either - starting with Forgotten Town and ending with Harvest For The World, two of their best-known hits.

In between we had the likes of Born Again, Greenbank Drive, Ideal World ... and even Here Comes The Sun, which was nicely covered.

A word, too, must go to Ruby and the Revelators and the good folk of the local Apuldram Centre (the festival's charity partner) who kept visitors entertained in between main-stage sets.

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This was my first visit to the Priory Park Festival and it won't be my last. And anyone who's got time on their hands later today (Sunday July 9) could do a lot worse than give it a visit - with S Club, Tony Christie, Jim Cregan and Abba Chique on the bill. You can pay on the gate. See