Love BN1 Festival 2018 – Preston Park, Brighton

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

After the madness and hedonism of the Saturday, a sense of peace and calm descended over Preston Park. With many revellers still trying to get home as the second day of the Pride festival kicked off, there was a noticeably quiet start to proceedings. The decision to extend the musical celebration over two days was a risk, but with the geniuses that are Nile Rodgers and Chic in town to party, it felt like the perfect way to end the weekend.

With a truncated running time due perhaps to Sunday curfews, the first few acts barely settle on stage before being whisked off again. With both Ariana and the Rose and Rowetta only having time for a mere three songs, it feels like one of those frenetic charity whistle-stop performances. Adding to a slightly stop-start beginning was Gabrielle’s set, which was plagued with sound issues initially, teetering right on the edge of shambolic. However, she soon settled into her stride and delivered a crowd-pleasing selection of her easy-listening pop singles such as ‘Dreams’ and ‘Out Of Reach’.

With the House Gospel Choir thoroughly waking up the crowd, it was then down to Raye to deliver a truly electrifying performance. In a similar way to Ella Eyre on the previous day, she added a spark of energy that had been missing. Sprinting backwards and forwards down the runway, she already looked light years ahead of last year’s The Great Escape spots. With tracks such as ‘Cigarette’ lighting up the arena, she is also starting to back up the personality with a growing number of bangers.

Offering a taster of her November show at the Brighton Centre, Jess Glynne put on a set that highlighted just why she is such a force in the pop world right now. With a more gospel-soul tinged theme to her performance, she breathed new life into already-classic tracks such as ‘Right Here’ and ‘Hold My Hand’ – as well as a tantalising first ever live rendition of new material, which seems to mark her movement into a maturer sound. How that transfers to record, we will have to wait a little while to see. What is sure is that she is one of the finest pop stars that this country has got, and the Brighton Centre show in November is looking more and more like a must-see.

Finally, the masters themselves. Nile Rodgers has got what he self-professes to be “The best job in the world”, but one of the second-best must be to be able to listen to him. There is nothing new to be written about the legacy of tracks that he has written or produced, suffice to say that he has been one of the biggest influences on pop that this world has ever seen. Anyone who has seen him before will have known exactly what to expect, and tonight followed the same setlist and patter as his usual party set. But, if you have something as good as this, then why change it?

Flanked by the sensational Kimberly Davis and Folami on backing vocals, there was no better way to end Pride. ‘Le Freak’, ‘Good Times’, ‘We Are Family’, ‘Get Lucky’, ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Let’s Dance’. These songs form the very fabric of an entire genre, and each chance to listen to the man behind them should be cherished. After all of the madness of the preceding 36 hours or so, it was time to celebrate and that’s exactly what the delighted party-goers did.

Jamie MacMillan