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Lambeth Country Show Sunday 2012

Lambeth Country Show Sunday 2012

Lambeth Country Show Sunday 2012

By on - Photos by Emma-Louise - 1 comment

Anthony B, Janet Kay, Peter Hunnigale and Dennis Bovell headline the rescheduled free event in Brockwell Park.

The Lambeth Country Show has a 38 year history of allowing the London Borough of Lambeth's inhabitants to see marquee live music acts perform without charge. Ostensibly a traditional country fete in an urban setting, the show takes place in Brockwell Park which lies between Brixton, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill and is one of the few remaining free London festivals with a reggae element (the advent of the internet has made local councils less willing to spend their budget cleaning up after a party the whole of the capital is able to attend). This February Lambeth Borough Council announced that the Country Show would be cancelled due to a lack of resources diverted to the 2012 Olympics. Just like their ill fated 2008 attempt to reduce the live element (and relinquish the services of Culture Promotions Nicky Ezer who books the reggae acts), the decision proved unpopular with residents. So, following a petition, the council agreed to "a scaled down event" moved from its usual calendar date of late July to 15th and 16th September.

Lambeth Country Show - Hollie Cook

Despite the promised restrictions in size, Ezer put together a solid and impressive lineup of homegrown and Jamaican talent, topped by the fiery Trelawny deejay Anthony B, to rival the appearances of Horace Andy, Johnny Clarke and Luciano in 2011. With London in the final gasps of an "Indian Summer", the weather on the Sunday - traditionally the roots reggae day - was actually better than it had been in July the year before!

The stylish and gifted Japanese saxophonist Megumi Mesaku aka Miss Megoo opened at 2.15pm with her own group the Yahman All Stars. The ensemble's choice of material was slow compared to her output in Ska Cubano and Top Cats and at times she found it hard to make herself understood when speaking to the audience. However, the loose jam like mix of soul, ska and African music (including a cover of Labi Siffre's Something Inside So Strong) was a pleasant opener that captured the multicultural heritage of the borough - even if the engineer struggled with the sound from time to time.

Next up was Sex Pistol scion and modern lovers rock exponent Hollie Cook whose collaborations with Prince Fatty have been one of Brit reggae's bigger international success stories of late. It was a shame Fatty wasn't Hollie's designated engineer for the set, as his live mixes bring out the best in her voice yet she remained a compelling figure in her red Minnie Mouse bow. Equal star billing belonged to simultaneous drummer and deejay Horseman, powering Hollie's able band through renditions of Milk and Honey, Sugar Water and the Whispers And The Beat Goes On - with an old school rap from Horseman - as Hollie danced with a little girl on stage and the sun emerged from behind the clouds.

After a brief appearance by melodious Northampton-born crooner Chancellor, dub auteur Dennis Bovell took up his bass. His task was to remind us of his contributions to the soundtrack of the cult motion picture Babylon (filmed in the locale) and his pioneering role in lovers rock (Matumbi's After Tonight). He then passed over four string duties to one of the next generation's top rhythm setters, Don Chandler, as Bovell sang his recent release Fall Babylon - replete with crashing dubwise and a Tarzan yell call and response - showing the spirit of Franco Rosso's movie still burns in his heart. Dennis quickly made a discreet exit leaving Chandler to anchor the rest of the afternoon!

We'd heard plenty of good music but had yet to hear a truly consummate singer. The entrance of Peter Hunnigale changed all that. His synergy with Chandler - thanks to their sterling work at the Reggae In Da City nights in east and west London - was evident as he effortlessly inhabited Al Green's Stay Together and Alton Ellis/Brenda Holloway's You Make Me So Very Happy. Peter also reminded that he is a roots man with his own Old Time Steppers. Bar the headline act, his performance was a high mark of the show.

Lambeth Country Show - Anthony B"The weather's beautiful! What a lovely day - are you ready for a singsong? " beamed Ms Cook's inspiration, Janet Kay. She continued the Alton Ellis theme by performing her first ever recording for the maestro in 1977, Loving You, and closed with her tune for Bovell, Silly Games. Ezer then gave a speech about the importance of British reggae and live musicians (each group boasted horns), handing proceedings over to the visitor from Jamaica - Anthony B.

By this point the crowd had been lulled into a roots and lovers rock calm. It was not to last. For having warmed up singing Redemption Song, Anthony B rushed the stage bringing his long legs up to his shoulders and jogging on the spot. Though Anthony's voice doesn't sound particularly melodic on record he proved himself a very competent singer following his Good Life with "Uncle Beres" They Gonna Talk on the same rhythm. He did not focus on current European hit album Freedom Fighter, sticking to what his UK family would know: a thunderous Raid The Barn and a heart-thumping Fire Pon Rome, calling on his friend Wayne Lyrics, and only briefly taking matters dancehall with as an energy boost. "All my working class people" said Mr B before covering fellow working class hero John Lennon's Imagine: changing the lyrics to "Imagine there's no Facebook, no Blackberry or Twitter" and recommending everyone write their relatives in Jamaica a letter instead. He may make a roots music that sets pulses racing but this nowadays veteran represents a simplicity that predates the digital age. With Chandler and Bovell's cream musicians behind him (rather than the usual capable if samey continental outfits) this was Anthony B at his propulsive best.

His performance capped another edition of this uniquely good value event - of which even notoriously fussy and music spoilt Londoners could not complain. If you want to see it continue, be sure to demand more of the same next year.


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Read comments (1)

Posted by beve sinclair on 10.07.2012
Certainly keeping on top of the game Angus, interesting read, pity I wasn't there to see the glorious acts, especially Janet Kay...

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