Event review: Purley Festival 2017


By - Tuesday 11th July, 2017

Now in its sixth year, Purley Festival 2017 showcased the best of Croydon’s creativity and community spirit


Payback on stage.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

The sun shone on the Rotary Field on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July as thousands joined together to enjoy a wonderful weekend of music and fun during the finale of Purley Festival.

In these uncertain times, there is something special about people uniting to celebrate the good things in life and that is exactly what Purley Festival is all about. It has always been that way, an event run by the community for the community.

I’ve been on the festival’s committee since 2015 but I post this review in a personal capacity, as a fan of music and a proud supporter of my local town. That’s right – I love Purley!

I love Purley artwork at Purley Festival.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

It would be difficult to pick out a top musical moment from the weekend but I can’t be alone in highlighting Theatre Royal, a band consistently championed by BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq.

Theatre Royal on stage at Purley Festival – Sunday at the Rotary Field.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

These guys are from the Medway towns and made the short journey from Kent to Purley to delight the crowds with their fittingly sun-soaked blend of melodic indie pop. I once described this band as purveyors of ‘literate pop music… pop music that matters’. I stand by those words. Beautiful.

TV Presenter and Local Business Owner Laura Hamilton on hosting duties at Purley Festival – at the Rotary Field.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

Talking of beauty, Theatre Royal was introduced on stage by a fellow Kent export, the resplendent Laura Hamilton. Laura lives locally and is a presenter on Channel 4’s A Place In The Sun but on this weekend there was nowhere sunnier than Purley.

Councillor Tony Newman, leader of Croydon Council introducing Velvet Alibi at the Purley Festival Finale Weekend.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

As well as showbiz glamour, there was political prestige. Local leaders came along to support the festival and to introduce acts on the main stage. Croydon councillors from across the political spectrum were in attendance – including the leader of the council, Tony Newman. We were also joined by Purley Festival’s MP, Chris Philp, and the mayor of Croydon, Toni Letts OBE, who introduced the Original Aces on Sunday evening.

Councillor Toni Letts OBE introducing the Original Aces plus the Ciyo Brown Band.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

Hits like ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ and ‘Israelites’ sounded magnificent in the sunshine and people of all ages danced along to the golden sounds of rocksteady and reggae. Not bad for a suggested donation of a fiver!

The Original Aces plus the Ciyo Brown Band on stage.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

Another enjoyable main stage performance came courtesy of Kitten and the Hip. You may remember them from this X Factor audition. If Simon Cowell knew anything about anything, he’d realise that Ashley Slater had a number three hit with Fatboy Slim on Freak Power’s excellent ‘Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out’. It was a yes from me.

Kitten and the Hip.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

Highlights from the Oval acoustic stage included the folktastic Susie B and Purley’s very own prince of pop, Nick Higton a.k.a. The Aultones. I also enjoyed the Lollipops with its sugary sweet mixture of pop standards with a vintage twist. The Purley Pipettes, if you will.

The Lollipops on the Oval Acoustic stage.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

The great thing about Purley Festival is just how family friendly it is. My nieces loved the kids’ crafts tent and the climbing wall provided by the Scouts, while I enjoyed the fine blonde beer from the Cronx Brewery served in the Oval bar and some amazing festival food from Blacks’ Burgers.

Festival director Fiona Lipscombe with Chris Philp MP.
Photo by Ian Stratton, used with permission.

Purley Festival is a fantastic community event and both the weeklong fringe and weekend finale that made up the 2017 event were an absolute triumph. Bring on 2018. With Michael Eavis having a fallow year, it’ll be bigger than Glastonbury!

Martin Leay

Martin Leay

Martin has lived in Purley since 2014 and is passionate about the borough of Croydon. From 2015-2017 he presented and produced ‘Happy Sundays’ – an Indie, Rock and Pop show on Croydon Radio. His day job is in politics, carrying out research for Labour MPs. Martin recently became a Dad and is very proud that his daughter was born in Croydon.

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