Re-connecting with two indie heavyweights...

Striking the balance between large-scale out-door concert and chilled summer festival, Friday’s South Facing line-up shows what happens when great bands come together, as more than 8,000 fans gather to celebrate the return of indie and alternative music heavyweights Supergrass and The Cribs.

After a tight presentation from Brighton grunge rockers, Chappaqua Wrestling, Wakefield punks The Cribs deliver their explosive alt-rock with conviction and passion. Their deep-seated loyalty to DIY ethos is reflected in their hour-long set, a large proportion of their fans are in attendance, so it’s not surprising to see the band go above and beyond the call of duty.

Their first large-scale show in a while, the drive is to focus on playing the hits, mixed in with a couple of new ones. Residing in New York, Portland and Wakefield the trio have been longing to play again, and their setlist reflects that desire. Opening with the glitzy ‘Running Into You’ from ‘Night Network’ – their album released last year – the song is appropriately followed by ‘I’m A Realist’ prior to getting stuck in to the anti-mainstream sentiment of ‘Our Bovine Public’.

From the poppy end of the spectrum, ‘Burning For No-One’ feels like a soothing moment, it’s a raw delivery. In contrast ‘Come On, Be A No-one’ shines in all abrasion, it is electrifying, effectively underlining how The Cribs embody the two poles, dedicated to melody and catchy hooks, embracing the opportunity to attack their instruments, and fully endorse the creation of mosh pits.

“Are you ready for a bit of acoustic?” asks Ryan Jarman, as he goes to fetch an acoustic guitar for ‘Shoot the Poets’. It’s a moment of sweet serenity. Similarly, Gary dedicates ‘Screaming In Suburbia’ to a friend who lent him a Supergrass album between 1999-2014. This is followed by favourites ‘Mirror Kissers’, ‘Men’s Needs’ and ‘Pink Snow’.

Slick songwriters and famed for their ease at adapting to the live environment, Supergrass are more than ready to start. A performance nothing short of magnificent, it also marks an emotional appearance for the band, and the excitement is felt across the outdoor venue space. With Gaz Coombes leading the troops, there’s plenty of experience and cool calm, as he introduces what songs are up next and chats with warmth about his newly regained joy of being able to play live again.

An extravagant all-around ‘best of’ set, it’s a celebration of the achievements of a band, who literally smashed the UK Charts from not just one or two, but several top spots. It honours anthemic tracks like ‘Richard III’, ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’ and ‘Moving’, but doesn’t neglect more intimate songs like ‘She’s So Loose’, ‘Hollow Little Reign’ or the introspective ‘St. Petersburg’.

There’s a few minutes of intermission before Supergrass return to perform a bouncy and spirited version of ‘Alright’ and a breezy delivery of ‘Sun Hits the Sky’, both are tracks that make the crowd sing and jump as if lives depended on it. Big ballady versions of Grace’ and the stunning ‘Late In the Day’ are treats for die-hard fans as well as those who are more into part of the group’s repertoire.

A wonderful curation from beginning to end, the event is a case of when no large stone of the band’s repertoire is left unturned, and this South Facing date represents an immense emotional outing as much as a musical one, which will be remembered for years to come.

Words: Susan Hansen
Photo Credit: Emma Swann

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