Party at The Palace Day 1
Party at The Palace celebrated its fifth year last weekend in the only way it knows how – by having an absolute belter of a music festival! Although mother nature didn’t exactly play ball with the weather, it mattered little to the 15,000 or so people who flocked to PATP over the two days. And we were there, right in the middle of things to catch the best of the main stage action.
Watching the opening band on the PATP main stage is always a really cool part of the day, and this year was no exception. These bands have earned the right to open the festival by winning (or in this year’s case, coming second) in a battle of the band competition held by the organisers. Indie rockers Gordon James & The Power were first up this time around, and the Speyside three-piece rose to the occasion brilliantly. Playing a short but sweet set of acoustic guitar-driven songs which included their latest single Blood, the band kicked off the day with an upbeat, positive vibe.
That positive vibe continued with singer songwriter Carly Connor who was next onstage. In the five years I’ve covered PATP, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who was more excited and psyched about performing there than Carly. Having already supported the likes of Paolo Nutini, Chaka Khan and The View, Carly is clearly a potential star on the rise, and she lit up the PATP stage with her massive personality and even bigger voice. Her latest single, the heartfelt Who’s Gonna Love You? is as good a song as any you’d find in the charts, and you should really check it out. Brilliant.
As The Complete Stone Roses took to the stage and launched into their set, the PATP audience exploded into life for the first time. The Stone Roses have always been a band whose music seems to grow in stature and head into a different dimension when it’s performed live. And like all top of the line tribute bands do, The Complete Stone Roses managed to capture the essence of those performances here. The likes of I Am The Resurrection, I Wanna Be Adored and Waterfall sounded completely authentic and had the audience singing and dancing along as if Ian Brown and company were onstage.
Midway through the afternoon things took on a golden, yellowy hue. No, the sun didn’t come out, but Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 hit the stage! It’s always difficult to know where to start to describe these guys because there really isn’t another band out there to compare them with. Ultimately though, their live shows are about having a good time through music, dancing and crowd participation. Songs like Gay Icon, Ginger Girl and Cross the Road had the PATP audience singing, dancing and generally having an absolute blast. Inclusive, positive and tremendous fun. See them once and you’ll be hooked!
After a DJ set by Melanie C we reached the sharp end of Saturday’s lineup. Cast are embarking on a Greatest Hits Tour later in the year and gave the PATP audience a taste of what to expect with an absolutely barnstorming set. Mind you with songs like Finetime, Flying and Guiding Star in their armoury, how could it possibly be anything else? In what was probably my favourite performance of the entire day, the timeless classic Walkaway was a standout.
Despite the fact that – her hits aside – Gabrielle has never really been on my music radar, I was looking forward to seeing her perform. After all, just because I don’t have any of Gabrielle’s music in my collection doesn’t mean that I won’t enjoy her performing live. And I have to say she knocked it right out the park! Everything about her performance oozed class. Her voice was as soulful and silky smooth as it was back in ’94 when she made her breakthrough. Her set contained all the big hits you’d expect, and included a few songs from her newly released album Under My Skin. As she rounded out her set with Dreams, I was sold. New fan!
And so to the Saturday’s headliners. I’m climbing on my soapbox for this part of the review in light of the criticism James received from some quarters after their performance.
Now, James doesn’t need little old decibelROGUE to defend them, but I felt that I had to address the complaint that the band didn’t play their legendary hit Sit Down. Now, as paying customers, gig-goers are perfectly entitled to express their displeasure about anything they like. But if you know a little bit about how James go about their business, such complaints are pretty unfair.
Like everybody else, I really hoped that James would play Sit Down, but I knew that it would be a toss of the coin whether they’d include it or not. And that’s simply because it is not a permanent fixture in their live performances. Sit Down, like all their hits from that era are randomly rotated in and out of their sets on a gig by gig basis. Make no mistake, James are totally uncompromising in how they go about their live performances. And they simply don’t do greatest hits-type sets just because they’re headlining a festival. They are however, a band who are still very much on the front foot creatively speaking, which makes every one of their concerts so dynamic and unique.
Right, I’ve stepped off my soapbox now. Let’s talk about their show. From the moment James eased into their set with the slow burning Out To Get You until they rounded the night out with the bombastic Come Home, they were absolutely tremendous. Tim Booth is perhaps one of the most magnetic frontmen in music. And despite suffering from the effects of a cold (which nearly scuppered the band’s appearance altogether) he danced and sang and led the audience through a career-spanning set.
Two songs in and you could tell that Booth was straining at the bit to get off the stage and get into (or onto) the audience. Unfortunately, after a day of hard partying, the guys in the front rows weren’t perhaps the most stable of platforms, so we didn’t get to see Booth walk into the audience on the shoulders of the crowd this time. James gigs are regarded my many as almost spiritual experiences. This one, however also had a decidedly romantic vibe, as a fella called Scott Carter proposed to his girlfriend Kelly Williams onstage. Happily she said yes! (PHEW!)
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this performance was it clearly demonstrated that even thirty-five years after the release of their debut EP, James are still pushing, still evolving, still creating. Their new album Living In Extraordinary Times is an absolute belter, and they performed several songs from it here. Coming Home (Pt. 2) is surely a future classic.
Despite the band being firmly focussed on moving forward, it wouldn’t be a proper party without James dipping into their huge back catalogue of hits. And they duly obliged with barnstorming versions of Sometimes, Born Of Frustration and the wonderful Laid.
So, all in all this was an absolutely awesome performance by a band who have more than earned the right to be regarded as legends. Yes, for casual music fans it may have seemed strange that they didn’t play certain songs, but hey, you can’t always get what you want! For the thousands of James fans in the audience, yours truly included, it was just about as good as it gets.
Stay tuned for our review and gallery of day 2!