The Downs Festival, Bristol – Review

The Downs festival returned to Bristol and was Gurt Lush (or, for those who don’t speak native Bristolian, pretty incredible).

The festival was headlined this year by Ms Lauryn Hill – the first female singer to top the diverse line up. As a founding member of The Fugees,  she may have only one solo album to her name, but the Grammy award winning songs have stood the test of time and remain unparalleled among her peers. Incredibly, Lauryn took to the stage on time, playing classics ‘Killing Me Softly‘ and finishing with the classic ‘Ready or Not

Lauryn had to give one of her best performances, taking to the stage after fellow icon Grace Jones. With hits such as “Pull Up to the Bumper” and “Slave to the Rhythm,” Grace delivered a jaw-dropping spectacle. With a stunning, if extremely revealing, costume change between each song, she defied her 71 years by showing more energy than any other singer all day.

Grace Jones © Graham Tarrant

IDLES played their largest ever gig in their home town when they return to the main stage at The Downs. After an incredible year headlining Glastonbury’s Park Stage and their well-deserved nomination for the 2019 Mercury Music Prize, the crowd chanted their name while they tuned up. Singer Joe Talbot admired the huge crowd with awe, while mutton chopped guitar player, Mark Bowen, danced around the stage in his finest Calvin boxers.

IDLES © Graham Tarrant

Introducing each song with the sentence ‘This is an anti-fascist song’, their energetic punk anthems blew away the crowd, with the band stage diving throughout. As well as playing song ‘Danny Nedelko’ to his immigrant blood brother, they also played unique snipers of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ and ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’.

Elsewhere, on the Avon Stage, fellow Glastonbury star Loyle Carner proved why he’s a unique talent in the world of hip hop. Down-to-earth and with less macho bravado than his contemporaries, his honest lyrics stand out in the social media age. His sound has been described by NME as “sensitive and eloquent” and by The Guardian as “confessional hip-hop”.

Loyle Carner – © Graham Tarrant

The festival also hosted ‘The Information’ area, with speakers including Desree, award-winning Charlie Craggs and Extinction Rebellion highlighting how we can make a positive impact on local and global issues.


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