On Blackheath 2015 Review

With the festival season drawing to a close for another year, On Blackheath is a festival for families and music, art and food enthusiasts. Running for its second year, the line up was impressive, with Elbow and Manic Street Preachers performing on Saturday and Madness and Kelis on Sunday.

The festival was based in Dartmouth Field, Blackheath and consisted of 3 music stages as well as a variety of tasty food stalls, bars, street performers and a huge children’s area, with activities and shows families could enjoy as well as the impressive line up.

To kick things off, Saturday saw Kyle Riabko open the main stage, followed by BBC Introducing London winners, Venice Trip who won a spot on the line up this year, playing their first performance on a festival main stage.  Jack Savoretti also gave an amazing performance, with On Blackheath being one of his last UK shows for the year, he sang songs from is latest album ‘Written in Scars’ as well as known hits ‘Take Me Home’ ‘Sweet Hurt’ and ‘Home’.

The smaller stages saw a line up of up and coming artists, from a variety of genres, tailoring to everyone’s tastes; including, Hooton Tennis Club, Temples and 808 State. Summer Camp, Rivrs, Moth Trap, Greg Wilson and Tom Findlay from Groove Armada.

The Chef’s Club Banquet stage featured a number of chefs showcasing their best recipes. Chefs including Daniel Doherty, Natasha Corrett and Hemsley& Hemsley all made appearances and cooked to a small audience.

Manic Street Preachers were the first sub-headliners at this year’s festival and gave a memorable performance that had the whole festival singing to their hearts content. Opening their set with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, the band belted classics such as ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’, ‘A Design For Life’, ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’ and ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’. The band did a fantastic job of warming the crowd up for the night’s headliners.

The much-anticipated Elbow closed on the Saturday, announcing that this performance was going to be their last for a while. The band made their last performance count and soon got the crowd going as the sun set and the end of the first day drew to a close. They sang their hits ‘One Day Like This’, ‘Grounds For Divorce’, ‘Lost Worker Bee’ and ‘My Sad Captains’.  The band rounded off the day perfectly and set the bar high for the second day performers.

On Sunday, On Blackheath seemed quieter than the previous day, but never the less people seemed excited and ready for the day’s events.  Ska band Chainska Brassika opened the main stage, followed by the cast of Sunny Afternoon, the hit new musical about the life of The Kinks.  The musical won 4 Olivier awards this year, so expectations were high and the cast really didn’t disappoint.  They played classic hits such as ‘You Really Got Me Going’, ‘Lola’ ‘This Time Tomorrow’ and ‘Sunny Afternoon’.  The audience got an extra special treat when The Kinks front man Ray Davies took to the stage to thank the cast and to introduce the song ‘Waterloo Sunset’.  The cast gave an amazing performance and were a real tribute to The Kinks.  Laura Mvula also gave an exhilarating and soulful set, performing hits such as ‘Green Garden’, ‘Like Morning Due’ and ‘She’.

The much-anticipated Kelis sub-headlined Sunday’s line up, as well as showcasing her culinary skills on the Chef’s Club Banquet stage.  After a late start, she graced the stage and performed all her hits including ‘Milkshake’, ‘Millionaire’, ‘Acapella’ and ‘Trick Me’, with backing jazz band, which gave her songs a unique soulful, jazz edge.  The change to the structure of her songs went down well with the audience, despite the risk and complimented Kelis’ talent well.

Other performances throughout the day included David Rodigan, Giles Peterson, The Reflex, Hannah Holland, The Mighty Cosmics, Brass Roots and Hollie Cook. The Chefs Club Banquet stage saw the likes of Tom and Henry Herbert, Andy McLeish and Calgary Avansino.

To close the day and festival Ska favorites, Madness took to the stage to give an energetic performance that the crowd had been eagerly awaiting all day.  The band performed classic hits ‘Our House’, ‘It Must Be Love’, ‘Embarrassment’, ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘House Of Fun’.  The crowd couldn’t help but sing along with Madness and dance the night away.

On Blackheath is the perfect family festival as it has something for everyone, with an eclectic line up, chefs showcasing their best recipes, delicious foods and plenty of entertainment for kids.  Although it’s only on its second year, the festival has managed to bag brilliant headliners to round off each day, as well as opportunities for up and coming musicians to showcase their talent.  Can’t wait for 2016!

Summer Series at Somerset House 2015 – Kwabs, Raleigh Ritchie and Zak Abel.

Somerset House has established itself as the perfect summer music venue, with an impressive eighteenth-century courtyard, right by the River Thames in central London. Summer Series always has an impressive and diverse line up every year, with the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Professor Green and Ellie Goulding on their list of past performers, this year was no different. So far Passenger, Nick Mulvey, George Ezra and James Bay to name a few have graced the stage, tonight was Kwabs, Raleigh Ritchie and Zak Abel’s turn to shine.

Walking through the venue, it's small and intimate. People are starting to filter through, grabbing beverages and jerk chicken on the way. Zak Abel kicked off first and warmed up the crowd for the night’s following proceedings. The up and coming star, probably best known for his vocals on Gorgon City’s 2014 summer smash ‘Unmissable’, performed to the crowd, his own material from his latest EP ‘Joker Presents’. After a few microphone issues, Abel soon caught the attention of the audience with his edgy but soulful voice as people started to arrive. Songs in his set included, ‘Higher’, ‘Alchemy’ with a Daniel Beddingfield’s ‘Gotta get thru this’ mash up and ‘These are the days’.

Following  Zak Abel, was Raleigh Ritchie, who built on the atmosphere and energised the crowd further.. Asking people to dance ‘like no-one’s watching’, the audience didn't hesitate as they started singing along to his set which included hits ‘Stronger than ever’, ‘The Greatest’ and ‘Bloodsport’. Given the short amount of time he was on stage, he gave an explosive performance and left the audience wanting more.

The much anticipated Kwabs didn't disappoint when he graced the stage to headline tonight's event. Full of suave and rhythm, he grooved to the beats of his up and coming debut album ‘Love+War’ which is out this September. He performed known hits such as ‘Walk’, ‘Wrong or Right’ and ‘Pray for Love’, as well a as sneak preview at some album material. If that wasn't enough, Kwabs also threw in an amazing cover of Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, then sat down and serenaded to a quiet audience, James Blake’s  ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ and John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’. It was an intimate moment, and Kwabs really connected with the crowd. The audience then started to dance and sway to ‘Fight for Love’, ‘Saved’ and lit up the whole courtyard with their mobile phone lights to ‘Cheating on me’.

The Summer Series was the perfect way to begin the weekend. The weather was great, the intimate venue meant the sound was enclosed within the courtyard, emphasising the sounds and atmosphere a whole lot more and from tonight's performance, Kwabs debut album sounds amazing – definitely watch this space!

Lounge on the Farm 2013 Review

LOTF is your typical local festival and the title of the festival explains it all, you lounge on Merton farm and enjoy great music!  So much so, there were sofas dotted around the farm for festival fans to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.  As well as this, a variety of street food stalls from Indian, Mexican, Thai and even local Merton burgers from the farm were available.  Not only was there music to enjoy over five stages, there was also a family funfair and craft stalls where  sewing classes and craft classes were available should you wish to partake.

To kick Friday off, the line-up included, amongst others Coco and The Butterfields, who gave a quirky performance with their mix of hip-hop and folk sound; Beans on Toast, who sings about sex, drugs and politics… nevertheless, you cannot ignore the man’s witty song writing abilities which had the crowd both laughing and singing along at the same time and Lucy Rose who gave a chilled out performance, which captivated the audience and certainly had everyone excited for Friday’s headliner.

Whilst waiting for Seasick Steve to arrive on stage the crowd were surprised suddenly by a flash mob style brass band who started playing amongst them.  The band played contemporary hits, with their own twist.  They made several appearances over the weekend popping up all over the festival in various places to play their set to the festival go-ers.

Seasick Steve @ Lounge on the Farm

Seasick Steve was the first headliner to perform on the main stage at LOFT.  Performing with his many customised guitars and accompanied by his drummer, he gave an intimate and relaxed performance.  His set included hits ‘Self-Sufficient Man’, ‘Don’t Know Why She Loves Me But She Do’ and ‘Started Out With Nothin’, which rounded off a great first day on the main stage.

However the festival still carried on until the early hours of the morning, so I checked out DJ legend David Rodigan’s performance in the Hoe Down tent.  The tent was packed with people of all ages raving out to Rodigan’s selection of Reggae and Dancehall hits.

Saturday arrived and with it euphoric indie band, Eliza and The Bear, Tribes who rocked out the main stage, Willy Moon who gave a classy performance, which involved his hit ‘Yeah Yeah’, which most people would recognise from the Apple iPod advert.  By the time Man Like Me took to the stage, the heavens opened and Lounge on the Farm was flooded with torrential down pour and thunderstorms.  However this didn’t stop the crowd enjoying Man like Me’s energetic performance.

Although the wellies had to come out, by the time Jessie Ware graced the stage the rain eventually stopped, which topped off her performance.  The up and coming star sang all her hits from her debut album ‘Devotion’ including ‘Wildest Moments’, ‘Imagine It Was Us’ and ‘If You’re Never Gonna Move’.  Ware mentioned that LOTF was the first festival that she has headlined, with this in mind, I though she gave an excellent performance and was one of the highlights of the whole weekend.

Lounge on the Farm

After Jessie Ware’s performance and for a change of scenery I checked out the Boom and Bang Circus feat. Kitty Bang Bang.  The show consisted of eccentric and show-stopping acts, including burlesque dancing, comedy acts and fire-eaters to name a few.  It certainly was a different style of entertainment to see at a festival, but nevertheless extremely entertaining.

The last day of the festival arrived all too quickly and I must admit, I was a little sad by this point but excited at the same time as the last day consisted of a few musical legends.  The day’s line-up included indie/rock band Siblings, Art Ferguson’s Big Blues Band, who gave an amazing show that had the crowd dancing merrily, Reggae legends, Aswad who gave a jammin’ performance and Dub Pistols, a lively show that had the crowd jumping and dancing throughout their entire set.

Soul II Soul feat. Caron Wheeler closed the festival.  Despite the late start, the group gave a performance worthy of their closing spot and rounded off the end of the festival nicely.  Their set including their renowned hits ‘Keep on Movin’ and ‘Back to Life’ which had the older members of crowd dancing and singing along to their heart’s content.

It was hard to fault LOTF, it has the whole package for a small festival.  I particularly liked the real local festival vibe, which some big festivals sometimes lack due to their size and the size of the attending crowd.  Despite this year’s headliners not being as ‘renowned’ as the festival’s past headliners (Ellie Goulding, Emelie Sande, The Streets), I still feel the headliners this year gave top-notch performances all round and were worthy of their spots.  The only criticism I could possibly give the festival, is the distance between the main stage and the crowd was unnecessarily wide, so much so Jessie Ware and Seasick Steve to name a few even complained at how far away they were from the crowd.  This almost defeated the point of the intimate feel small festivals are meant to give, so let’s hope this is an improvement that is made for LOTF 2014!

For images of Lounge on the Farm 2013 please click here.

BT London Live – McFly and Saint Etienne Review – 4th August

Hyde Park was heaving as the sun shone down on what turned out to be ‘Super Saturday’.

Musical entertainment was provided by Rusty Shackle and The Asps on the Bandstand stage and pop sensations McFly and electronic stars Saint Etienne on the Main Stage amongst others.

Alongside the music, the giant screens televising various live Olympic sports kept the crowds entertained.  There were also guest appearances from Team GB Olympic medal winning stars Bradley Wiggins, Gemma Gibbons and Karina Bryant.

To kick off the live music on the Main Stage, Tenors of Rock entertained the crowd with covers of popular chart songs ‘Price Tag’ by Jessie J, ‘Walk This Way’ by Aerosmith and ‘Grenade’ by Bruno Mars, adding their own quirky rock twist.

Up next were McFly.  They opened their set with ‘Nowhere left to Run’, the boys also played some of their greatest hits including ‘Obviously’, ‘Star Girl’, ‘5 Colours In Her Hair’ and ‘All About You’.  The crowd danced and cheered as they covered two well known British hits, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen and The Beetles hit song ‘Twist and Shout’.  They also performed a cover medley consisting of Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’, One Direction’s ‘What Makes you Beautiful’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.  To round off their performance, they congratulated Team GB and all the athletes on their success and dedicated their single ‘Shine A Light’ to them.   McFly certainly enhanced the ‘Olympic Super Saturday’ atmosphere and left the crowd psyched for the upcoming athletics medals finals.

Between acts the crowd gathered round the Main Stage’s big screen, to witness some of Britain’s proudest Olympic moments so far.  The atmosphere was electric, second only to being at the stadium itself, when Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all won gold medals within the space of three-quarters of an hour!

To round off the evening, headlining act, British electronica trio, Saint Etienne took to the stage.  The audience enjoyed a late night boogie to a mix of their greatest hits ‘He’s On the Phone’ and ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ along with a selection of material from their latest album ‘Words and Music’, with hits including ‘Tonight’ and ‘I’ve Got Your Music’.  Saint Etienne certainly didn’t disappoint and kept the party atmosphere going right through to the end of the night.

However, a word of warning… there is airport style security on the gates with no food or liquids permitted through the barriers, so you have no choice but to buy in the venue, which can turn out to be very expensive.  Also seating is limited so make sure you take a picnic blanket at the very least.

Click here to view more photos from BT London Live – 4th August

BT London Live – Will Young Review

The rain may not have held out for the Olympic Opening Ceremony and concert but the sun definitely made an appearance for the first of the free Olympic concerts in Hyde Park.

The headlining acts scheduled to perform were Welsh singing legend Sir Tom Jones and English singer-songwriter, Newton Falkner.  Unfortunately, due to illness, Sir Tom bowed out last minute, so Pop-Idol winner Will Young, stepped in.  Appearances from rising pop-star Conor Maynard, and smaller and up and coming acts treated thousands of spectators to performances as well.

Not only was the music top quality but it was freely available to the public, and contributed to a fantastic family day out.  Hyde Park was full of food stands ranging from burgers, noodles, to crepes.  In keeping with the Olympics theme, there were stands available for the public to see if they had the nerve, stamina and determination to take part in the BT London Lives’ very own ‘mini Olympics’ with attractions varying from Volleyball, Badminton to a Triathlon!  If sport isn’t your thing, there was also a Cadbury stand, where you could see famous London landmarks being carved from chocolate; a BT Tower were you could preview and play the brand new official London 2012 Xbox game and 3 HUGE screens, that displayed the Olympic events live throughout the day.  Even Gold Olympic medallists, Torville and Dean made an appearance!

BT London Live

The park housed 3 stages full of music.  The bandstand stage showcased performers like John Wean, who performed while audience could chill, sip iced cold drinks, and enjoy the sunshine too.  The BT Vision stage was home for performers Conor Maynard, Ade Adepitan and Liz Johnson.  The main stage featured Will Young and Newton Falkner.  One tip though, if you are thinking of going along over the coming days take a picnic blanket, as seating is very limited and the ground is covered in wood chip, not conducive to comfortable sitting!

To kick start the music on the main stage, Neil Fox introduced humble hippy, Newton Falkner.  He gave a totally captivating performance and amazed his audience with his ability to play guitar and ‘drum it’ at the same time.  He has a talent for making a large open-air audience off thousands feel like a small intimate venue and enthralling his audience with his ‘one-man band’ show.  His charisma shone through, when he played the theme song from Ice Age and Matilda, guaranteeing that this song could make ‘anyone smile’.  His set included all his well known hits including, ‘Write it on your skin’, ‘Dream Catch Me’ and ‘Clouds’, which he got everyone from the audience to sing a long to.  He also performed a number of covers including an impressive version of ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which the audience chose over Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstitious’. 

A few hours later Newton Faulkner was followed by Will Young, who was a more than adequate stand-in for Sir Tom Jones.  Any disappointment some members of the audience may have felt, I’m sure were short-lived, as Will Young staged a very entertaining show.  He treated his audience to all his greatest hits that everyone could sing along to including, ‘Changes’, ‘Who am I’, ‘Light my Fire’, ‘Your Game’, ‘Leave Right Now’ and ‘Jealousy’.  Accompanied by a band and backing singers, Young took to the stage like a real showman and delivered an energetic and exciting performance.  During his set, he teased the audience that he had a costume underneath his attire which he would reveal by the end of the show.  Throughout his performance he gradually stripped off, sending the audience crazy and filling Hyde Park full of the screams and cheers to reveal his costume, a vintage style running outfit, to keep with the Olympics and the theme of his video ‘Jealousy’, which he closed his set with.  All I can say is, Will Young is a dark horse and certainly took me by surprise, in terms of live performance.

BT London Live

To sum up, I would recommend the BT London Live festival days to anyone looking for a fantastic fun day out to help them get into the Olympic Spirit.  Not only is there plenty to do, but all the live music is FREE, and some of the biggest music acts around are performing at BT London Live throughout the Olympic period.  What more could you ask for?

Click here to view photos from BT London Live – 28th July