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One Love Festival 2013

One Love Festival 2013

One Love Festival 2013

By on - Photos by Emma-Louise - Comment

A great site and good organisation made this the most stable, successful and best One Love yet.

Last year Dan Wiltshire’s nomadic dub and camping festival had a difficult time in their fourth site at the Hop Farm in Kent. Complaints about noise levels, a wedding booked the same weekend and being too distant from London made another venue change necessary. This year the event seemed to have found a steadier home at Damyn’s Hall Aerodrome near Upminster. Secluded and surrounded by trees it recalled previous Essex location Hainaut Country Forest Park. It was far out enough to play loud music yet close enough to London, with only the odd low flying aircraft, dozy wasp or Essex’s surprisingly brutal evening mosquitos posing any threat to the peaceful mood. 

Organisation-wise bar a couple of no shows, everything went to plan. Some have said it needs to be livelier but one gets the sense that this is exactly how Wiltshire wants it - no whistles or horns; more of a meditative hippie dub vibe where people can wander the two stages and four sound tents commune with bass and nature and enjoy personal space. The Saxon tent was upgraded to getting its own bar - which gave it a pulling power on a level with the alcohol-enabled Dub Shack (although Papa Levi and the SAX 3 mcs did not appear).

David Rodigan: One is love is about this music that we all love. One love has always been about unity and strength and togetherness – the music is reggae ska, calypso, dubstep – it’s a fusion

Day one

Weather: a shower of rain early in the afternoon failed to turn the field into mud. The night was chilly for those in tents.

Sound system highlight: David Rodigan smashing it as usual – playing the hits in perfect order. He juggled classical roots like Abyssinians and Culture with Here Comes Trouble by Chronixx (already tune of 2013) and 80s and 90s dancehall from Buju and Supercat with jungle in preparation for headliners Congo Natty.

Rodigan - One Love Festival 2013

Artist highlight: Ranking Joe doing his tongue twisting thing over vintage Studio 1 rhythms to a dedicated crowd (the drunken youngsters were stuffed in Saxon for Congo Natty’s post set exodus).

Most improved: Radio Riddler. Last year they played to almost nobody on the main stage. This year they brought a live band so their reggae covers of Prince tunes came across.

Bunny Lee: One Love is a good concept and this is a great festival – it’s coming on like the Geel and the Rototom

Day two

Weather: much windier but again no serious rain. Mosquitos at nightfall.

Sound system highlight: Rory Stone Love in the Saxon tent. It was so packed that United Reggae only got when a short powercut sent less patient audience members off in search of dub. What makes Rodigan and Rory champion selectors is the way they can manoeuvre between eras and genres with ease.

U-Roy - One Love Festival 2013Artist highlight: U-Roy on the main stage. Though Ducky Simpson’s Black Uhuru might have been a more unusual UK appearance, U-Roy closed Saturday’s live segment in style.  The setlist was the same as at Olympic Park but it's the consistency of him, his singers Winsome Benjamin and Richie Canary and his band that gets you every time. It's amazing how he has kept his power as a performer far longer than many people he inspired to pick up the mic.  

Non-musical highlight: Bunny Lee showcasing an edit from his new documentary I Am The Gorgon. Last year plugging his book the Q&A was inaudible; this year Saxon’s rig made everything crisp. Not only is the film essential viewing but Bunny told United Reggae that he plans to follow the movie and tome with a project telling the truth about King Tubby. “We’re coming next with the real King Tubbys story. How Tubbys started and all of that. Because there is a lot of misconception so everything will be cleared up. What King Tubbys did and what he didn’t do. What Jammys did. Prince Phillip did. What Scientist did. And Professor did too - the real Professor from Jamaica”.

Disappointment: King Jammys couldn’t play due to technical problems.

Al Campbell: One Love means togetherness. It’s a nice concept and a nice concert. It just needs a few more people

Day three

Weather: sunny most of the day.

Artist highlight: Al Campbell with the Netherlands’ Dreadless band (who backed Horace Martin for one of the 2010 edition’s best shows). The smooth voiced don sang some Bob Marley for the occasion as well as his own Bad Boys and Jamming - saving the engineer money by making dubby delay effects with his mouth. He could have performed a few of his 70s classics but his voice and musicians were still top notch. Bristol’s Talisman also gave a nice set earlier on as did Birmingham’s Friendly Fire on the smaller Soul Adventurers stage.

Coxsone Sound - One Love Festival 2013

Sound system highlight: Coxsone sound bested France's Heartical and the UK’s King Tubbys and Youthman Promotion to win the Battle of the Dubplates in the Lively Up Yourself Marquee. Heartical drew the Beres and U Roy combo Serious Matter on the Every Tongue Shall Tell rhythm, Tubbys weren’t afraid to go modern with Torch’s Reggae Music. It was a close final between Youthman and Coxsone yet Lloydie Coxsone’s friendly good vibes and willingness to play dubplate mixes instead of specials (drawing Max Romeo and Prince Lincoln) versus Youthman’s heavy reliance on cuts from their founder Sugar Minott edged the crowd and judge Earl Gateshead. There was controversy over the decision (allowing the winner of the runners up into the final gave Coxsone, who was knocked out earlier, a reprieve). But in last year’s One Love interview Coxsone said he doesn't take clashing as seriously as some of his rivals and perhaps it was this happy go lucky approach that won the cup (anyway let's be honest: two hours of specials can get dull - battle of the rare tunes sounds much more fun!).


Talisman: One Love is a kind of consciousness that we have and it’s like we’ve lost. People will say it and then go back to their bickering


A great site and good organisation made this the most stable, successful and best One Love yet. Rodigan, himself now settled at BBC1Xtra said “I think this is the new home for the festival. It’s a lovely feeling when the sun sets. It’s a beautiful and wonderful location. This festival celebrates dub and reggae which is very important”

However, One Love have since announced that the festival will be moving to Springfield Farm, Milton Keynes.

One Love Festival 2013

Ijahman Levi: One love? What can I say about love but unity? As long as its heart beats it is Rastafari. It’s just love. Selassie I. It’s not two love – it’s one

Earl Sixteen: One love is a thing we started out in Jamaica to hail each other. It’s not really a Rasta thing but it’s a kind of a greeting. It means more strength more unity more love – one love one heart let’s get together and feel alright. It’s a quote from Bob Marley but I think it first came from Curtis Mayfield. For me it just means one I-nity

Black Symbol: Harmony. Peace of mind. Togetherness. Unity. Strength. Godliness. That’s One Love for me

Anthony Johnson: The first man to sing One Love was Curtis Mayfield in the Impressions and then Bob sung it back and made it international. One Love is everyone black or white as one nation and we have to get together as one nation

Buckey Ranks: One love is unity. One Love festival is people of all different creeds, class and colours. You can find Japanese, Italian, French, Americans here, people from all over the world


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