REVIEW: Jim Cregan, Tony Christie – Priory Park Festival, Chichester, Sunday.

Cregan & Co
Cregan & Co

What a difference a year makes. Last year, in its first year, the Priory Park Festival was a festival finding its feet. This year it’s into its stride.

The open-air format seemed a little bit of a hostage to fortune, but with the weather gods more than smiling, Sunday offered out-door festival fun at its very best – particularly in the shape of Jim Cregan, Rod Stewart’s right-hand man, who offered a blistering set of solid-gold classics.

Cregan is a simply-awesome guitarist; you felt privileged to be standing at his feet, so close, watching the master at work – and what a catalogue he and his band worked through.

Hot Legs and Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller were among the rockers; and You’re In My Heart and I Don’t Walk To Talk About It were superbly delivered; but the night belonged to I Was Only Joking. As you listen to it, it’s difficult to think of a finer song anywhere. My spine’s still tingling from Cregan’s solo.

And it’s songs like these that left you feeling Cregan & Co with Strictly singer Tommy Blaize expertly guesting on vocals really ought to have closed the night.

Tony Christie, later on, was a polished performer, a real pro with presence, charisma and twinkle, but too many of his numbers lacked the instant recognisability which made Cregan’s set soar. Festivals probably aren’t the place to hear songs you’ve never heard before.

But that slight miscalculation aside, this is undoubtedly the year Priory Park Festival secured its spot on the Chichester calendar. Did we want it back next year, festival director Robin Bextor asked from the stage at the end. I think he knew the answer.

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