REVIEW: The Downs festival wows huge Bristol crowd

PUBLISHED: 19:03 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:00 04 September 2018

Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher at The Downs festival.

Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher at The Downs festival.

Archant

Some of Britain’s finest musicians performed in Bristol this weekend as part of the impressive The Downs festival.

Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher at The Downs festival.Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher at The Downs festival.

Big hitters from jungle, eletronica, rock and reggae performed across an incredible day filled with comedy, debates and a festival within a festival in the kids area.

What impressed me most about The Downs was its organisation. No parking meant people had to find other methods of getting to site, which was located at the far west end, but plenty of stewards were around to help with any queries.

Midway between the two stages was the information stage, where discussions and stand-up comedy took place from an array of speakers.

Bars and food stalls were filled by local producers and the family feel meant a nice and relaxed vibe was maintained throughout the day, parents were able to let their children enjoy themselves on the rides and play area.

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The sound systems and layouts at both stages were very impressive, quite often with smaller festivals it is easy to neglect this but the setting varied for each act.

Hometown band Laid Blak warmed the crowd up on the Avon stage and drew a mixture of young and old people, closing their set with new song It’s A Pity which was perfect for the hot, sunny weather.

On the main stage, Dream Wife and The Heavy played strong sets which garnered a larger crowd as the afternoon went on. I always felt as though I had plenty of space at both stages, it never felt like people were packed in too tightly which is credit to the organisers.

But the majority of festival goers were waiting for the biggest acts - Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher.

Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher at The Downs festival.Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher at The Downs festival.

The Modfather played a mixed set of new solo material and Jam classics, while Noel treated the crowd to tracks from his new High Flying Birds album.

A surprise return to the stage from Weller for Gallagher’s final two songs ended the day perfectly, performing The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love and The Jam’s A Town Called Malice to send people home happy.

The highlight for me though was Orbital’s set. The brothers put on an incredible lights display with the Avon stage perfect for their expansive live performance.

Off the back of closing the main stage at Dekmantel Festival in Holland earlier this summer, the duo brought their famous torch glasses and improvisation to The Downs.

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Belfast, Doctor Who and Halcyon On and On got the warmest receptions, while material from their upcoming album Monsters Exist, most notably PHUK also went down well.

Inbetween their set and Goldie’s, a raised platform and additional pyrotechnics were installed to the Avon stage, which gave Orbital a grand platform to show off their impressive hardware, with keyboards and synthesizers surrounding the two men.

Never shy of political themes in the music and videos, the screen behind the pair showed various messages with Tories out banners and other similar themes popping up at various points.

The Downs brilliantly encaptured everything Bristol is about, a multicultural metropolis which caters for and welcomes in everyone. It will be hard for the organisers to top this lineup next year, but I am looking forward to it already.

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