Review: Golden Touch Festival 2023

This years Golden Touch Festival went off with a bang. A hot, sweaty, in your face, (slightly chaotic) anthem filled bang!

Organiser Billy Fitzjohn and his team had to grapple with line up changes, a heatwave and a few technical issues, prior to and during the event that, was held at the Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea. All of these challenges added to the feel of the festival, giving it a different kind of energy and power, there was a spirit in the room that brought everyone together in a love of live music.

The K's

This years line up, complete with a surprise (ish)  co-headliner, was a good mix of local and touring acts, and my day kicked off on the main stage with GT festival favourite Dutch Criminal Record.  Followed up with local singer-songwriter Harvey Jay Dodgson, a late addition to the line up who treated a packed Edge of the Wedge to a soulful solo acoustic set.

I spent the early afternoon moving between the two stages taking in Matisse, London based singer-songwriter Cameron Hayes and another band from the capital in Sad Boys Club. Local favourite Jerry Williams took to the main stage later in the afternoon, to deliver delightfully, melodic solo set that included Mother, Buddy and a beautiful version of the Johnny Cash classic Folsom Prison.

Jerry Williams
Dylan - Festival Fan
Crystal Tides

I managed to take in some of the brilliant talent that is Megan Wyn, the 17 year old from Anglesey is making quite an impact on the music scene with a slot at the IOW Festival already under her belt. One of my stand out artists of the day then took to the main stage, Tom A.Smith is an act I was really looking forward to seeing and he didn’t disappoint. Tom has has already had immense success in the music world, from supporting artists such as Miles Kane to being invited to play some major festivals such as Glastonbury and Leeds festival. Along with his band, he delivered a set that blew the roof off of the Wedge, his set included Weirdos, Never Good Enough (his latest single that is due for release on 8th July) and the brilliant Like You do, that was written with Miles Kane. If you want to catch Tom A.Smith live, they play at Heartbreakers in Southampton in November.

Tom A.Smith

Moving between stages to catch Portsmouth indie rockers The Macs, then Manchester based indie/alt favourites The Covasettes and on to another north east band M60 before moving to the main stage to see a a lively crowd enjoying swaggering Solihull indie rockers The Clause. Being a pretty last-minute addition to the bill didn’t seem to have stopped the band bringing their fans with them, as half the room jumped and sang along as one to the punchy, riff-heavy track In My Element.

Then it was straight back next door to the Edge, where Manchester-based psychedelic indie band Delights were in full flow. Their dreamy sound made me think of Empire of the Sun crossed with Tame Impala, and an unexpected cover of Britney’s Baby, One More Time was, well… a delight. Edge is such an intimate venue, you could literally reach out and touch the bands if you wanted to (but don’t, obviously), it’s the perfect setting to see a band with a cooler, more laidback vibe, like Delights.

Heading back to the main room to catch the rest of Corella’s set, also visiting from Manchester with their anthemic indie-pop-rock. It went down a treat with the crowd, filling the space with a stadium-worthy sound full of soaring guitars and iconic choruses, with a set including Bloom & Barcelona Girl. Like the rest of the acts, Corella seemed to be on top form, giving an energetic performance that could’ve owned a much bigger stage. A treat to see them so up close and personal.

Ping ponging back next door to Edge, we joined the punters watching Sheffield-based singer songwriter Frankie Beetlestone delivering his quirky and charismatic indie pop. With his witty lyrics, chatty asides and even a bit of robot dancing, Frankie had the audience in the palm of his hand. My favourite track was Sober Again, a summery slice of singalong you can’t help but move to.

The Clause

Back in the main room, local favourites Crystal Tides were keeping the crowd happy with their much-loved bouncy alt-pop indie. Fresh off the back of a Southampton gig the night before, the boys stepped in as a last minute (not so secret, secret act!) to fill a cancelled act’s slot and as ever, the home crowd was loving their work.

Finally, festival headliners The K’s took up the main stage to close things out. Their first time back in Portsmouth since their Common Stage debut at Victorious Festival last year, the indie rock four piece from Earlestown, Merseyside gave us a performance no one will forget for a while. Despite technical problems throughout, they thundered through a fierce and passionate set without a full set-up and still sounded incredible. The boys took it in stride and switched up their setlist on the fly, frontman Jamie joking his way through and thanking us for being so nice. Truthfully though, they were still an epic watch, with songs like Glass Towns and Got a Feeling becoming instant favourites. Jamie’s gorgeous cover of Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark was the kind of moment that makes you grateful for technical hitches, showcasing an astonishing vocal. If that’s The K’s with tech issues, sign me up for the full experience.

A massive well done must go to Billy Fitzjohn and his team, for organising this festival (with a very testing run in) and giving the upcoming artists a much-needed platform on which to shine.

Words: Liz Parsons & Mark Butler
Photos: Mark Butler


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please Add Widget from here