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Primavera Sound Part 1: Two Queens Rule Primavera Sound

  • Published in Live

A weekender in Barcelona always gives you fragments of memories you’ll be carrying around for a while. Maybe that snippet is a cultural thing. Like how people just wash the beach sand off their bare bodies in plain sight (exposing perhaps more our prudishness than their nakedness).

That little vignette might be that, during the heat of the day, young people still pay their dues on the soccer pitch or basketball court instead of evading heat and work inside.

And then we’re not even on the Primavera Sound site yet.

Primavera has treated me well over the years. Fragmented memories still linger in my brain. That of a boy waiting, by himself, for over thirty minutes, clinging to his multi-coloured rucksack at the front where Blood Orange will, momentarily, perform a fantastic set.

The snapshot of a completely enthralled crowd silently taking in the sounds of Radiohead. Even if, standing mid-field (at best), that’s more than anyone could expect.

Or ingrained in my memory the reunion tour of Slowdive, which saw two people faint right in front of me during a set that propelled me to get tickets for their upcoming European tour.

This year is sure to add a number of vivid recollections to that (although not as much as, perhaps, in past editions was the case).

One thing is for sure, Primavera this year turned into a monarchy, reigned by two Queens high and mighty. Both providing iconic moments that created everlasting memories.

How about Solange, whobreaks her calmness and serenity at the end of the set during ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, punching the “What you say to me” lines whilst powering herself through some defiant dance moves.

While she freaks it out, the rest of the band (all dressed in similar orange hues) still do their calm, pre-meditated dance moves. Solange herself, when chorus moves to verse, returns to her cerebral aura, calmly, yet with poise, explaining that You don’t understand what it means to me.

Grace Jones, off-screen, mentions, during one of her many changes in clothing, that she’s eaten too much. And could the person buttoning her up please stop laughing and get it done.

All in good jest.

As are her comments that with the wind, she doesn’t need fans. Not the audience, of course. As the fans, they blow her good.

Continuing that trend, she fans the male dancer who dances around the stripping pole during one song, the both of them scarcely wearing more than body paint. In that same attire, but with different accessories, she tells us to Pull up to the bumper baby, inviting the voyeur in to make us complicit in her funky sex scene.

Both touch upon the essence of being oneself. Solange, mostly using material from her new album, walks us through life as an African-American woman in contemporary America. With the hardships and structural discrimination that takes place. She forgoes the angry woman spiel deliberately, instead she coolly, artfully states her case with understated poise.

Be weary, she sings, of the ways of the world. She sings that she has Got a lot to be mad about, but is never allowed to show. Or tell. Or explain. So she talks about how she tried to drink it away. Read it away. Run it away.

The album already is a superb vision of contemporary life for the African-American woman, and live she syncs it up by controlling the whole creative process. The choreography isn’t akin a pop choreography, but it is like theatre, like performance art. From when I saw her years ago in a small venue off the back of the fun True to this, it is clear the leaps she has made.

Grace Jones, meanwhile, goes back to her roots. Musically, with the rhythms, the genres, and the texts, and with her songs, singing about Jamaica, going back to Hurricane. Where Solange choose to express her pride in an understated manner, Grace Jones fills every corner of the festival with it. A Jamaican woman of a certain age, who is to tell her don’t do body paint, don’t talk about sex, don’t dance with younger men equally dressed in nothing. She too, is in complete control of the whole creative process, from the costumes to the set-up to her charisma on stage.

Her voice, too, still sublime.

These two women show power and pride in different ways, both hitting the mark exquisitely.

Both artists send out a specific message and vision, but through that also a broader theme. One of empowerment, of being oneself, and of being proud.

All hail the Queens of Primavera 2017.


Festival Coverage: Love Supreme Jazz Festival

  • Published in Live

This weekend we were fortunate to attend the Love Supreme Festival. Nestled snuggly into the sleepy Sussex village of Glynde this is rapidly becoming one of the best small festivals around. With our VIP wristbands and smug faces we descended on the site.


Saturday is a blustery overcast start but we are uplifted by the skanking sounds of the Riot Jazz Brass Band.  This is exactly what we need to get the blood flowing.  Now hungry, we turn our attention to the host of food outlets and plump for a hearty Mexican burrito.

There is a wonderful laid back vibe as we wander the various market stalls and catch little performances at the bandstand where we chill and drink for a while. We then turn our attention to the main stage where Ibrahim Maalouf, a wonderful French jazz musician who restores our connection to the continent. He is followed Syke and Ross formerly of Morcheeba.  They don’t disappoint and provide the perfect nostalgic trip hop sounds we all remember. With a new album in the offering we hope to hear much more from them. We sip our fruity cider and can feel the warmth of a strange yellow thing in the sky.

The festival is supported by a host of great names. We are now embraced by the wonderful vocal talents of Lianne La Havas who has consistently delivered since her explosion via BBC Sound a few years back.  With the sun setting we bask in her sumptuous vocals along with her laid back grooves that have the crowd swaying and swooning. We get now why it’s called the Love festival, and it's clearly not just because of the Coltrane album. The sea of smiling faces and wonderful vibes restores our faith.

Aside from the main stages the festival has an arena for a more dance related vibe. Top of the bill is Mr World Music himself the wondrous Gilles Peterson.  We feel like we want to dance and he does not disappoint with his Brazilian themed set he gets the whole tent jumping. We also catch the incredible a talents of bassist Stanley Clarke

We close the first night with the enigmatic Grace Jones. If you have never seen her live it is a spectacle to behold. Scary, engaging and a hugely impressive talent she delivered a simply wonderful set.

Sunday arrives a little fuzzy headed but we are excited as we feel this is the best line of the two days. Our spirits are immediately lifted by the incredible vocal talents of Avery Sunshine.  Her beautiful soulful jazz voice invigorates the crowd. A few Aretha Franklin covers engage the crowd before she dazzles us with a few of her own numbers.  We are charmed by the straight up jazz piano of Anthony Strong as we make full use of our VIP passes as he gives us a short private show.

Other notable highs that blast away our blues come from the wonderfully named GoGo Penguin who signed to Blue Note records and now the success of their album Man Made Object has catapulted them to a wider audience.  To compliment this we see the legendary Average White Band whose string of disco and funk hits get the whole festival moving as the pump out there hits we ‘Pick up the Pieces’

The Sunday main stage is dominated by two of the most exciting songbirds around with Caro Emerald and Kelis. Kelis has had a huge musical transformation.  Forget her milkshake days, since her amazing album Food released in 2014 she has transformed her sound and her soulful groove is wonderfully received. She is decked in white and look simply fantastic. She belts out some of her latest stuff and is even a reworking of milkshakes to great applause.


Caro is a stunning performer whose jazz vocals and distinctive sounds go down a storm. The Dutch Queen of swinging jazz is a perfect crossover act as she belts out her hits which allows hundreds of impromptu jive and lindy hop dancers who although have had clearly one too many glasses of Pimms provide us with great entertainment.  

The festival is complete by the smooth sounds of the wonderful Mr Burt Bacharach closing the show. Our only gripe is that this is rather too laid back after the previous acts and we would have preferred him in a sunnier crooner slot earlier in the day.   


However is does allow us to wind down and collect our thoughts as we trudge through the masses reflecting on a wonderful uplifting festival which simply gets better and better. 

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