Party At The Palace 2016 Part 2
The lineup for Day 2 at Party at The Palace 2016 is perhaps the best indicator of just how far the event has come in such a short time. Of the seven bands who performed on the main stage on Sunday, five fell into the ‘household name’ category, and four of those have topped the UK album charts at least once in their career. That’s a helluva strong lineup in anyone’s book.
So, first up on the main stage and charged with getting the party underway again was The Begbies. Now, if you were a fan of bands like The Specials, The Selecter, Bad Manners and Madness, then you’re gonna love these guys. The Begbies combine ska, two-tone and indie music influences into what is a really upbeat, skanky vibe. Songs like Stay Young / Stay Free had the PATP audience bouncing around like it was the 1980’s all over again. It was perfect summer music festival stuff and the perfect way to start the day. From a personal point of view I think it’s absolutely fantastic that thirty-odd years on from two-tone’s heyday, there are bands like The Begbies that still make this kind of music – I doff my pork pie hat to you!
Next up was the second of the weekend’s tribute bands. I’ve known the guys in Dirty Harry since the band formed over four years ago, and have seen them perform a number of times at venues in Edinburgh in the years since. Anyone who has been to one of Dirty Harry’s shows will know just how good they are, and I was really looking forward to seeing them play on the big stage for the first time. And I tell you what, as soon as Sarah Kennedy and the guys launched into opening number Hanging On The Telephone, the thousands in the PATP crowd didn’t know what had hit them! They blasted through legendary Blondie hit after legendary Blondie hit, and the PATP crowd absolutely loved them. Sarah Kennedy’s vocals were, as usual, nothing short of stunning, but the band’s performance as a whole was top of the line. Like the Bootleg Beatles the previous day, Dirty Harry absolutely monstered every aspect of what made the original band so special, and made you feel that you were listening to Blondie in their prime. So, top tip! Go to a Blondie gig to see the legendary band perform live, but go to a Dirty Harry gig to see Blondie at their best. Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend.
Speaking of highlights, one of the greatest Scottish rock bands to emerge during the eighties were next to storm the Main Stage. When I heard that Big Country were to appear at this year’s event I immediately went to my music library to play some of their music. However, I discovered that all my Big Country albums are on vinyl! So a quick visit to iToonz later and I could reacquaint myself with some of their greatest hits in advance of their performance here. Here’s the thing though. As good as the original recordings are, their live performance at PATP was on another level altogether. They were absolutely sensational! The energy, the passion, the sheer kicking a bloody great hole in the sky nature of their performance made this decibelROGUE’s highlight of PATP. Although only guitarist Bruce Watson and drummer Mark Brzezicki remain from the original lineup, I can’t imagine that Big Country have ever sounded any better than this. Fields of Fire, Wonderland and In a Big Country retain that marvellous anthemic quality of the original recordings, but just sounded bigger and badder played live. The band are currently on the road with their Seer 30th Anniversary tour and have a few shows in Scotland towards the end of September. Do yourself a favour and go see them.
You can’t talk about 80’s music without heading into synthpop territory. Throughout that decade, Heaven 17 achieved huge success with albums such as The Luxury Gap and singles like Temptation. So when Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware took to the stage and let loose with classics such as (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang and Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry, it was not just an opportunity for decibelROGUE to hear all those hits played live for the first time, but also served as a reminder of just how powerful and dramatic this type of music was.
The really cool thing about Heaven 17’s performance here was that they played all the songs in their set just as they did back in the day. So although the songs were very much of their time, to an 80’s kid such as myself, they still sounded great. I just wish their set could’ve lasted a bit longer. Luckily Heaven 17 are currently touring and will be back up in this neck of the woods early in the new year, so hopefully we’ll have a chance to catch them then.
And then it was Gok o’clock! Yep, everyones favourite fashion consultant Gok Wan took his place behind the decks to help crank up the party atmosphere with some Ibiza anthems. At that point we took the chance to adjourn to the beer tent to indulge in some of title sponsors McEwans’ products, so don’t know whether Gok’s requests for more nakedness from the audience was granted. But the beer was good!
As I mentioned during part one of this review, there are a number of bands in this years lineup who have properly brilliant anthems in their armoury. And the next band onstage have one of the best anthems of the lot. It’s scarcely believable that it’s been 25 years since The Farm originally released All Together Now. But that’s probably just a sign that I’m getting old!
After kicking their performance off with Love See No Colour and Stepping Stone, the rest of the band’s set was, as you can probably guess, dominated by songs from Sparticus. There was a nice little diversion into The Clash’s Bankrobber thrown in for good measure, though. We all may be a quarter of a century older than we were when Sparticus was released, but nobody thought to tell Peter Hooton, who swaggered around the stage with all the same attitude and dance moves as he did back in the day.
Obviously, the highlights of The Farm’s performance centred around their two massive anthems. The crowd went nuts as the distinctive jangly guitar intro to Groovy Train rang around the PATP arena, but it was during closing song All Together Now where the atmosphere skyrocketed. All great music has a timeless quality and this one has it in spades.
Oh, just about forgot. Did you know that Suggs from Madness produced All Together Now? Nope? Me neither!
The final artist to take to the stage before our headliner was none other than Andy Bell from Erasure. Now I have to admit that I’ve always had a big soft spot for Erasure’s music ever since I started to blag my way into nightclubs as an underage teen. During that time Erasure was hitting the peak of their success, their music was played everywhere and it quickly became firmly ensconced in the soundtrack of my life. So to hear hits like Sometimes, Victim of Love and A Little Respect performed live was really, really cool.
Andy Bell himself was as exuberant as Andy Bell has always been, and from a vocal performance point of view he was absolutely spot on. As you can see from our photographs Andy was joined onstage by a couple of interesting dancers, who added that extra flourish of flamboyance to the show. And during his set, Andy made the rather exciting announcement that he will be heading into the studio with Vince Clarke to work on a new Erasure album. This is a very good thing!
And so we come to our headliner. There’s one word that I keep coming back to when I think about Billy Ocean‘s performance at PATP, and that’s CLASS. Even if you’re not particularly familiar with his work, it only takes a few minutes of watching and listening to him to realise that he is one seriously, seriously good operator. There are precious few UK artists who, having achieved great success in this country have then gone on to be successful in the US. Billy Ocean is one of them. And here he was, walking onto a stage in Linlithgow…
Billy Ocean’s set, all 17 songs of it, featured many of his greatest hits, plus others which were less familiar. As you can probably guess, the setlist was kinda tail heavy as his most famous songs came right at the end, which ensured a brilliant climax to the evening.
Needless to say there were many songs in the first half of the set which I didn’t know. For example it was the first time that I’d heard opening song Are You Ready, which was a song he originally wrote for La Toya Jackson, but it mattered not. In any case I like going to gigs and listening to songs I’ve never heard before. It adds to the enjoyment of the occasion in my book.
So the early part of the set gave me an opportunity to really listen to Billy Ocean’s voice. Without question, it’s as pristine and perfect as it was on the original recording of Love Really Hurts Without You from way back in 1976, which is another song that featured in his set.
It’s when he performed his massive hits from the 1980’s though, when the evening really came alive. Suddenly, Lover Boy, Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car, When The Going Gets Tough and of course Caribbean Queen were for me, what the whole weekend was about. Party at The Palace is first and foremost, a party. It goes without saying that every good party needs great party music. And these songs fitted the bill perfectly as the audience joined Billy Ocean in singing and dancing the night away, bringing to a close a totally wonderful weekend of live music.
So there you have it. PATP is over for another year and if you couldn’t make it along, I’m afraid you missed one hell of a weekend. If you’ve read our previous PATP reviews, you’ll know that in each of the previous two years I’ve walked out of the arena at the end of the weekend wondering how on earth PATP organisers will top it the following year. Not this year! I have faith! The organisers spectacularly slam-dunked this one, and I’m absolutely confident that they’ll be able to attract a stellar lineup for PATP17 off the back of this year’s success. So decibelROGUE urges you to buy your early bird tickets HERE to ensure you don’t miss out. Hopefully we’ll see you down the front!
Billy Ocean Gallery
Andy Bell Gallery
The Farm Gallery
Gok Wan Gallery
Heaven 17 Gallery
Big Country Gallery
Dirty Harry Gallery
The Begbies Gallery
Star and Garter Gallery