Review: Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller close triumphant Downs Festival
PUBLISHED: 18:48 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 19:00 03 September 2018
A pair of Britain’s most iconic musicians performed in Bristol at the weekend - and they certainly did not disappoint.
The Downs Festival saw thousands of fans descend on one of the city’s most picturesque parts to watch Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher take to the main stage.
Weller, who could easily have headlined in his own right, played a blistering set at 8pm featuring songs from both his solo career and his time with The Jam.
The Modfather bounded around the stage for the entire hour-long performance - and the crowd loved it.
Songs such as The Changingman, That’s Entertainment and Peacock Suit were particular high-energy highlights while 1995 ballad You Do Something To Me saw plenty of hugging and swaying ensue.
Weller proved his music is just as popular decades after it was released while his more recent material also went down a storm.
He was the perfect prelude to the night’s main event - Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
I didn’t think the crowd at the main stage could get much busier but ahead of Noel’s performance it felt like thousands of others joined the throng and, to be honest, in the 30 minutes in between sets it felt a bit claustrophobic.
However, that minor irritation ended as soon as Noel took to the stage.
As a big Oasis fan I, along with many others, was very excited to watch him perform.
I never saw them play together before their acrimonious split in 2009 and although I have seen Liam Gallagher perform several times since then, the chance to watch the man who wrote some of my most-loved songs had eluded me until now.
Despite my excitement, I was also unsure as to whether Noel’s performance as a solo artist would meet my lofty expectations. I need not have worried.
He proved why he remains one of the country’s most treasured musicians with a show full of energy, passion and emotion.
Although classic Oasis songs like Whatever, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Little By Little and Wonderwall drew the biggest sing-alongs, what impressed me most was the way his solo material came across.
Although I have liked his three previous albums under the High Flying Birds moniker - particularly 2017’s Who Built The Moon? - they seemed to be injected with a new lease of life when performed live.
Noel was joined by a talented female vocalist for The Right Stuff and opening number Fort Knox, while a brass section was on stage throughout.
Gallagher’s solo songs including Holy Mountain, Dream On and If I had A Gun drew a rapturous reception from fans and showed his music still means so much to people of all ages.
Without doubt the highlight was the final two songs of the night when Paul Weller returned to the stage with Noel to play The Jam hit A Town Called Malice and All You Need Is Love by The Beatles.
It was the perfect way to end a set full of joy, positivity and fun.
It also capped off a brilliant day overall at the festival.
We arrived in the afternoon to watch artists including Dream Wife and The Heavy, both of which were excellent.
The Avon Stage was also busy all day with DJs and artists including Goldie and Basement Jaxx particular highlights.
For a slower pace, the Information Stage saw a number of speakers, including comedian Shappi Khorsandi, give speeches on issues including homelessness and Brexit.
We also spent plenty of time wandering around the site which included more than enough bars to keep queues to a minimum and a children’s play area, which showed just how family-friendly the event is.
A mention should also be given to the food on offer.
I opted for jerk chicken but there was a great selection to choose from including pizza, tapas and toasties.
I was also hugely impressed by how well the festival was organised.
With so many people leaving at the same time, the end of events such as this can often be somewhat chaotic and stressful.
However, with no parking at the site and road closures in force people were forced to walk, cycle or get a shuttle bus there.
This meant despite a brief wait for a bus we made it back to our cars at Long Ashton park and ride within an hour of the festival ending.
It was my first Downs Festival and overall I was hugely impressed with all aspects.
Although Noel Gallagher was my primary reason for going I loved everything else about the event and would definitely return another year.