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One Love Festival 2010

One Love Festival 2010

One Love Festival 2010

By on - Photos by Angus Taylor & Malia Tenyue - 2 comments

The first big festival in London since 2000 with Luciano, Michael Prophet, Julian Marley, Tippa Irie, Lloyd Brown and more...


The One Love Festival started in 2008 as a low key sound system only affair based in Sussex. This year, having gathered steady momentum, it made the historic move to the stunning, woodland encircled Hainault Country Forest Park - becoming the first outdoor specialist reggae happening near the capital since 2000's Peace & Love in Three Mills Green.

Compared to the scale and professionalism of even a small festival on the continent there were a few things still to be learned. The lights and sound faltered at crucial moments; backstage provision for the artists was basic; while the lack of crew resulted in lengthy band changes that decimated the audience at the main stage (many of whom were easily tempted by the heavy dub sounds in the bar tent). Even so, this 1700 strong fest had a nice vibe that went beyond the joy of seeing London punching its weight.

Saturday’s weather was a little unkind to highly creative songwriter Winston McAnuff's first British concert in twenty years (accompanied by Mafia & Fluxy and engineered by Gussie P). The people sheltering in sound tents missed an assortment of old roots favourites like Fear and Head Corner Stone as well as material from latest album 'Nostradamus'. Nonetheless, Winston called the event "beautiful" and happily met his devoted fans after the show. Look out for a new longplayer in February, featuring old collaborator Baz Baz and the Roots Radics, released via Makasound.

The sun came out for Tippa Irie who gave a characteristically crowd-controlling performance. Germany's Far East band who played on new album 'Stick To My Roots' and powered him for a tour-best occasion at Reggae Jam the previous weekend had been left behind, but it didn't matter due to Tippa’s ability to get everyone instantly onside. "When I hire horns it worth every cent" he chanted on big new roots tune Hornsman Blow and it seemed the powers that be were listening. Almost every act at the festival was backed by brass – frequently with Henry “Buttons” Tenyue on trombone.

Gappy Ranks, stuck in traffic, turned up too late for his slot and a ninety minute changeover tested the audience's patience. Yet they swelled in record numbers for Julian Marley who sang both his dad’s hits and his own sides such as Sharp As A Razor and the title track from Grammy nominated disc 'Awake'. To end, he took a customary photo of his fans going wild. Headliner Luciano (again with Mafia & Fluxy) delivered a more subdued set than usual but the highlight of the day was still to come; “Jah Messenger” then stepped into the Saxon tent where he joined the likes of Papa Levi and Nereus Joseph to sing a tribute to Sugar Minott. It was the sort of wonderful throwing together of talent that can only occur in the UK.

Sunnier Sunday's line-up was a similar well chosen mix of rare performances and familiar dependables. The sinuous veteran Horace “Lawyer” Martin, dressed in sharp steel grey suit and his trademark shades, gave a typically flawless showing, equal credit for which must go to the Netherlands' Dreadless band.

Another “gold dust” appearance was made by Essex’s own Lloyd Brown, who described it as “playing in my backyard”. More often to be found in California or Japan, the brilliant Mr Brown rivalled Julian for the number of Bob Marley tunes he played in honour of the festival’s name. Both he and Martin followed Luciano in paying homage to Sugar Minott: Horace with Never Gonna Give Jah Up; Brown with Oh Mr DC and Good Thing Going. But, thankfully, Lloyd didn’t forget his own material: singing Close To Thee (from his 2003 album 'Against The Grain') and Food For Thought which segued into Brinsley Forde's final defiant deejay chant from the film 'Babylon'.

The band change had again taken its toll by the time South London Afrobeat Reggae ensemble Soothsayers meet Red Earth Collective – later to back Michael Prophet – were ready for the stage. They had to cut their own compositions short for the impending ten o clock curfew, yet after five songs (including an impressive cover of Phyllis Dillon’s Don’t Stay Away, sung by Julia Biel) their playing had pulled sufficient people out of the tents to greet Prophet’s entrance. Michael, one of the planet's most gifted live performers, then served up his own bizarre but captivating display of showmanship, laying down, among others, Creation Rock and Mash Down Rome.

Luciano said of the festival, “The name speaks for itself. When I was called to do this I didn't hesitate. Rastafari has been talking about One Love even before brother Bob Marley highlighted the whole slang. I am happy to be a part of anything that will bring about one love to the people".
And while there was room for improvement on the logistics side, the music was as good in quality as you’d find anywhere in the world. Respect is also due to the legions of selectors and chanters who kept the three sound tents going: from marquee names like Saxon, Don Letts and Rodigan, to upwardly mobile entertainers such as Instrument Of Jah, Robigan, ADHDJS, Unity HiFi and many more. With the end of the North’s reggae festival, Boss Sounds, and a replacement in Lincolnshire’s failure to get off the ground, it’s vital that events like this continue. Hopes are high that One Love was financially viable enough to return next year.


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Read comments (2)

Posted by Greedy G on 08.13.2010
Wicked review Angus and great photos from you both. You are one of the world's premier reggae writers these days.

Posted by DJ Dialect on 09.03.2010
Superb review!! Thank you for your support - unity hifi crew

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