One Love Festival 2010: Rated!
Hainault Forest Country Park, London - 6-9 August
11 August 2010
One Love Festival, a modern day comeback of taking it easy is perhaps a little tough to break into given
the restless queue, but as they have travelled from all over and overseas the decision to delay the acts of the opening night
until everyone is through is appreciated. In the spirit of One Love, this is one festival where the fans come first, says
Overall - 7/10
Uncertain weather and a sparse crowd get the festival off to a rocky start, and as DJs take to their tents it is hard not to notice the disproportionately white middle class females commandeering the fields. But as Trojan Sound System open the show with a journey through roots, dubstep and rockers it is clear these represent today’s die-hard followers. Is this normal for a reggae festival? “Ya man!” a keen follower enthuses, “look at all these people! This is the third year and it gets bigger and bigger. Soon it will be massive.” With a thorough mix of DJ sets, live bands, quirky stalls (no-one ever seems to emerge from the campervan of curiosities) and the European Reggae Competition 2010, the political overtones and experimental flamboyance resemble an early day Afro-Caribbean Glastonbury.
Getting there and back - 8/10
Close links to the tube (a shuttle bus wouldn’t go amiss, although buses are regular) puts Hainault on a direct route from London, it is also accessible from the M25. How scenic your route is will depend on where you travel from, country folk definitely have the advantage.
The site - 9/10
Ease of camping, a five-minute walk to ‘real’ loos and the option to stroll through the local forest, farm or around the lake make for an ideal setting.
Friendly bar staff knock out well priced drinks at logical prices - £3 for a pint, £1.50 for half! Beware the toxic rum; one glass is apparently capable of a personality makeover. Credit to the festival hands who keep the toilets in remarkably good condition, as well as the litter collectors who cheerfully trawl the arena at crack of dawn each morning which means there is always a grassy patch to sprawl out over.
The atmosphere – 9/10
Bodies strewn across the fields belong to all age groups and nationalities, a large handful adorned in red gold and green and others in pirate hats. Groups of friends, families and individuals sit happily in the sun, boundaries blurred as groups continually morph. Pent up energy can be expended in a number of tents where heavy bass reverberates through parts of your body you have probably never felt before. The unity is best portrayed by a toddler who eagerly twists on her heels and toes, arms embracing the tangible rhythm of dubstep as it pounds through the audience – her kicks and smile of delight forcing teenagers and grandparents alike up to their feet.
Music - 7/10
Whilst some of the more famous reggae tracks such as ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ quickly become monotonous, headliners Julian Marley and Luciano are complimented by emerging contemporaries including Natty, complete with childlike excitement, who raises the standards for the weekend. The unique Zimbaremabwe “playing Zimbabwean music in traditional and modern styles” are also most fascinatingly with the aid of a Mbira, a thumb piano which looks very much like a large upturned bowl.
Natty - 10/10
Innotive tracks drawn from poetry, acoustic and a general cheeky demeanour are introduced with snippets of Natty history, most memorably MC lyrics written at the age of 12. “I thought I was the best MC in the world but no-one knew it” he says with a wide-eyed grin, “okay I’ll stick to singing”. In reality this was lapped up every bit as much as new track ‘Things That I’ve Done’.
Julian Marley - 9/10
In celebration of Bob Marley’s One Love Peace concert over three decades ago, Julian Marley’s set is an un-missable indulgence of reggae roots projecting effortlessly powerful harmony in a display of variously influenced tracks, the products of experimentation from the age of five . Marley is back in his hometown, uniting a record number of people at One Love in a celebration of political progress and defiance of culture boundaries.
The Skints - 8/10
Local band The Skints draw in crowds with catchy reggae-come-punk energy laden numbers and a range of instruments keep the set fresh and engaging. Marcia Ricahrds exhibits a range of musical talents including eye catching alto-saxo; the chemistry of the band members makes this a stand out set of the festival.
Tribal vibe – 8/10
Tribal vibe kick start the closing day with upbeat, grounded and punchy numbers, persuading the audience to their feet one at a time. Their set sees a healthy number of fans skanking and bouncing to the front, waking up to the final day. Infused with high energy and a clear passion to perform, this band should have revellers hitting the Google button on their return to reality.
Intinn – 7/10
Competition hopefuls storm the stage - an exciting name for the future in a short and sweet explosion of reggae and blindingly bright attire.
Benjamin Zephaniah – 4/10
Sadly reggae poet Benjamin Zephaniah’s talent was riddled with messages of anything but unison with ‘us and them’ the reoccurring theme. Zephaniah’s undeniable talent, saturated with hate for the police, painted a hopeless landscape void of progress in outdated, disheartening material.
Aruba Red - 5/10
A great performance at the wrong time – playing to an empty wet field it would be nice to see this band work a crowd next year.
One Love saw the return of groupies who succeeded in taking over the main stage throughout Friday in a blaze of glitter, glamour and, erm – horns.
Also the festival-goer who had to escape over the fence having been forbidden to leave the venue at 4am. Kudos.