In it’s 5th year, Love Supreme has reached a milestone, as it graduates from small festival with a strong line up to a sell out event with a killer line up, the best yet no question. The Jacksons, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Corinne Bailey Rae and Kamasi Washington amongst the main headliner acts. Then the support acts, BADBADNOTGOOD, Robert Glasper experiment, Christian Scott, Mica Paris, Lee Fields, Jordan Rakei, Yussef Dayes, The comet is coming, Sons of Kemet and Shabaka & the ancestors; those last three bands being headed up buy the hardest working man in Jazz right now, Shabaka Hutchings.
There is a lot more than what I have listed but for the purposes of space I won’t name check every act, you can dig that out for yourselves online.
We were lucky enough to acquire a press accreditation and had managed to secure interviews with 5 of the artists playing over the weekend, so far so good.
With an occasional cloud but overall blue sky we turned up at the gate on Sat, we being cameraman Fred and myself. Unfortunately and due to a breakdown in communication – more to do with me than the PR company – Fred was unable to obtain his photographers pass, which would have ensured his access into the press pit to take photo’s of any of the acts of his choosing. Feeling a little bummed we accepted it for what it was and set out a loose plan for the day.
We got inside only to be told that Lee Fields could no longer do his interview, as his plane had been delayed and there was no time. Shortly after that the Mica Paris interview fell by the wayside too, falling victim to the clock just as Lee Fields had done. Never mind, I still had BADBADNOTGOOD at 5.15. Off we trotted to get food + drink and catch a few bands.
It was at this point that it first hit me how busy the sell out crowd had turned the same square acres of land of previous years into an extremely busy mass. The chilled strolls round and easy acquisition of said beverages and then of a clean and green patch of land to sit seemed a thing of Love Supreme’ past. I have to say that I don’t have much of a gripe with this, as I only want to see local festivals of the quality of this succeed and continue. That said, by the time we had replenished ourselves, it was time to go an interview the band, I was excited at the prospect… until I got the dreaded text 10 minutes beforehand. Yup, cancelled. Time waits for no man, or budding media hack.
Despondent and a bit drained we headed over to the Arena and chatted up the security, securing success as Fred was then allowed into the pit for a close up with a few of the artists over the weekend. His first sortie into the pit came when Sons of Kemet took to the stage. Wow! What a noise. I’ve heard their tracks many times but live is different. Think Pigbag meets Charlie Parker. The end of the set saw the start of BADBADNOTGOOD over at the big Top, which is where we headed quickly. Chatting up the security here unfortunately fell foul of the ‘It’s my job that’s on the line’ classic. I guess we can’t be too hard on them; they are just doing what they are told. It was no go, so we took up a space at the side of the heaving tent to catch the lads in action.
We hung around with friends for the 40-minute break afterwards to catch the legend of Herbie Hancock, performing in the same space. To be honest, I wasn’t on form at this point. I was driving back, so unable to drink. I did more walking and queuing during the day than anything else, the tiredness was mixed with the guilt I felt, as I had left my wife and poorly child at home; chickenpox had put paid to their Love Supreme plans. Once Herbie had finished an incredible 90 mins we headed over to the main stage bypassing, The Comet Is Coming and straight into the VIP bar, where we could have a sit down for 20 mins before we left for home. That sit down didn’t actually happen, as happily, The Jacksons had taken the main stage and had the whole crowd up and jumping to a medley of hits. Was it cheesy and predictable? Yes but so what. It was great to see a performance from a band of brothers celebrating 50 years in the business. After our fill of happy-happy joy-joy, we made our way back to the motor and left for the day. My understanding wife was pleased to see me back so early at least. Better luck tomorrow.
Sunday was met with an absolute scorcher of a day. Not a cloud in sight and hot! A perfect day for a festival. My mood was a lot brighter; I had accepted the possible difficulties ahead and was determined to enjoy it in all its glory. We got there early afternoon and met friends, who by now were all well worn! It’s funny standing on the outside and looking in, I’m well versed in bad festival behaviour but with a sense of purpose and responsibility I took the wise decision not to get involved. So, two interviews today but first though to the Arena where our security pals allowed Fred back at the front of the stage to take photo’s of Miles Mosley & The West coast get down. I was keen to catch the full act ahead of my interview with him later on. Miles is best known as the upright bass player with Kamasi Washington and the year previous whilst performing with Kamasi, the band departed and allowed Miles the opportunity to perform his own track, Abraham. Here he was a year later with his own band. A sterling and rapturous performance it was too with ‘Abraham’ now becoming an anthem it seems as the crowd sang it back at him. With another batch of great pics on his camera, Fred and I headed over and got us a perfect standpoint at the main stage for one of my favourite acts of the last 10 years, Kamasi Washington himself. Drink in hand and sun beating down, Sunday was turning out how I imagined it would. The new material has a more straight up funk edge as opposed to the more spiritual feel on ‘The Epic’, gone is the angelic choir and in it’s place more noticeable guitar and straight up keyboard sound harking back to the feel of Sly and the Family Stone and Cameo in parts but all the trademark horn sounds from Kamasi and his crew remained intact. Miles Mosley was introduced to come and perform a few numbers halfway through the set – nice touch – and we lapped up the stunning, emotive and flawless performance. Once we were done we headed off to see a pal DJing – easy, Beatwell – but before long we were off to get our interview with Mister Mosley. A lovely man it has to be said, happy, polite and genuinely gracious that we were there to interview him. See video and photos:
I stayed on to interview the equally lovely, Jordan Rakei, as Fred darted off to take up his place in the pit to capture the essence of Yussef Dayes and his band. Once I had the two interviews bagged I made my way eagerly over to the Arena to see the band too.
I recently saw the Kamaal Williams Ensemble following the much-publicised break up of Yussef Kamaal. They were incredible and the bounce between Kamaal and Yussef’ replacement, drummer McKnasty, was insane. MckNasty suits his name. An animal!
Anyway, here I was seeing the other half of the fated duo having not done so before. I wasn’t disappointed, my lord. Make no bones about it, this was all about Yussef Dayes and his drumming, he is clearly a demanding leader and dictated proceedings with a stern authority, proving himself to be a monster on the kit. The other players were incredible too and they were allowed their solo’s to show off their skills but this act was clearly about one man. It’s sad that it appears that we won’t see the two original commanding performers on stage together again, however, if it means we get to see two talented heads of one snake going forward, it’s a good consolation. Feeling super content I met Fred from the pit and we headed back over to see friends for a while before time caught up again and it was time to depart back to my family.
Under different circumstances I would have loved to have caught Robert Glasper & then stayed for Jordan Rakei and Gregory Porter but having caught the latter before a few times I was happy with my lot. You simply can’t have it all ; )
Thanks Love Supreme; make it a part of your events diary for 2018.
Thanks to Barney at Neapolitan Music and to Joe and Natasha at Baxter PR.