One Love for reggae

One Love 2012 review

published: Tue 14th Aug 2012

the festival arena

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th August 2012
The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6PY, England MAP
early bird £100 adult weekend, child (5-16) £60, under 5s free
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Mon 13th Aug 2012

There's a reggae festival and I love reggae. So why haven't I been before? One Love has been running for five years.

Sited this year for the first time at The Hop Farm in Kent, on what is a perfect site for a small festival as it's also a general camping site. So there's ample brick-built toilet blocks on the campsite complete with showers, while the campervan pitches have electric hook-ups. Both are very close to the arena entrance making it quick and easy to move between the two ... and if you do you can't miss the main stage acts even if you wanted to, with perfect – and loud – sound blasted around the immediate area.

In the arena the main One Love stage hosted the live acts, while three tents hosted DJs and soundsystems. The Dub Shack was popular all weekend, Saxon had a busy tent every time I looked, while the Lively Up Yourself Marquee – it should be called the noisy tent – appeared to be trying to fit all of the main stage's beats of the weekend into one minute of sound (can you tell it wasn't for me? :-) - apart from on Saturday afternoon, when for some reason it shut down leaving some disappointed. There was also a film tent showing a plethora of reggae-inspired films.

Around the edge of the arena there was a reggae market of around ten stalls, selling everything Bob Marley a man could ever want, plus the expected array of red gold and green trinkets, T-shirts, etc. The handful of food stalls included two always-busy Caribbean outlets, while a third was strangely quiet (I've no idea why). Tibetan, Indian, toasties, chilli, paella, and cake ensured that those wanting variety didn't go hungry. And with Red Stripe costing £3.50 a pint I was a happy drinker.

The arena was a little small for all that music, with the sound bleeding across the site to sometimes interfere with other stages. This wasn't helped by the desire for teeth-rattling volume by those tents, to the extent that they often drowned out the main stage when listening from the campsite. As the volume seemed to go up and down in these tents from time to time, I suspect there was a battle over volume going on with the organisers over the weekend.

That sound-bleed gripe aside, everything else was just about perfect. The crowd varied from up-for-it 18 year-olds, plenty of twenty-somethings, thru families with kids of all ages, to those old enough to have enjoyed reggae in the 70s – and wonderfully free of idiots. United by a love of reggae, everyone was there to enjoy it, and with the sun blazing all weekend it was just perfect for soaking it up.

the festival arena

The live music ranged from the more-lowly covers bands – the 'Bob Marley count' was surprisingly small all the same – to major stars such as the superb Frankie Paul, and Freddie McGregor. Honourable mentions from me go to the wonderful Macka B, while Leicester's By The Rivers (who I've seen before) showed how young white kids can produce and play the most excellent original and tight reggae.

Disappointing was Tapper Zukie backed by Earl 'yeah yeah' Gateshead, cut off in his prime due to over-running (but at least we got 'MPLA' first), while the legendary Dawn Penn showed why (sorry Dawn) she's adored for just one song – and then she gave us only half. No, No, No!

This is a superb small festival, that's doing almost everything right and for an appreciative reggae-loving crowd. If you love reggae, why aren't you here?

One Love.

(apologies for the lack of photos. I'm now officially rubbish with a camera).
review by: Neil Greenway

photos by: Neil Greenway

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th August 2012
The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent, TN12 6PY, England MAP
early bird £100 adult weekend, child (5-16) £60, under 5s free
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Mon 13th Aug 2012


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