Last year I was moved to publicly declare my love for One Love Festival (well, I posted it on Facebook ); this year is no exception. The word lovely will feature a lot in this review as it is a lovely lovely festival.
One Love was in another new home this year after a one year relocation last year to the Hop Farm in Kent. I quite liked the new site and thought the camping areas were situated on the best part of the site, which is no bad thing for keeping your crowd happy. The main arena felt a little lost at times in the windy conditions and it felt like a fenced off area in the middle of a huge field. The layout was similar to last year's with the main stage centrally within the field, the sound system tents around the edges, and the food and merchandise stalls selling the expected ethnic-naks and Bob Marley-a, and a kid’s play area dotted in between.
There was a small second stage added this year which had some really hard working talent playing but always seemed sparsely attended. It was situated between the main stage and the ever popular Dub Shack, so was a bit lost really but did add a busier feel to that end of the site.
On first glance I was surprised by how few food stalls there were, but everyone seemed to be fed ok by the majority of Caribbean barbecues albeit after a bit of queuing at popular meal times.
We were also concerned about a lack of toilets in the living vehicle and crew areas; there weren’t any at all on the first day and night meaning a long walk to the campsite loos, but this was rectified on Saturday morning when four loos turned up which still weren’t enough really, but staved off the desperation of the long walk to the general campsite where there were plenty. Loos were great in the arena, enough of them and super clean.
The essence of One Love Festival, apart from the music of course is the crowd. It has to be the loveliest crowd at any festival I’ve attended in, well, a long time. A diverse crowd with a mix of all ages all with one thing in common, a real love of Reggae music. If you love Reggae music then this place is a little piece of heaven. Reggae all day and all night coming from stages, sound systems, tents, stalls, and the campsite crowd. In fact there’s something about One Love that I can’t quite identify, it doesn’t feel like your normal festival atmosphere or vibe, it feels like a community of people sharing a common love. Oh dear I think I’m in danger of going on about how lovely it all is again.
One thing I think it’s important to mention is the very relaxed and chilled out nature of this festival, which makes for a lovely campsite atmosphere. In fact on Sunday a family of day trippers parked up in a minibus next to us and proceeded to unload a gazebo, picnic blankets and an oil drum barbecue and there they sat for most of the day enjoying themselves. This does have the unfortunate effect of the main arena not achieving that critical mass of bodies it needs for an atmosphere during the daytime.
Now to the music, I’m not going to bore you with every act we saw but the shining light this year for me was U-Roy. He’s lost none of his skill as the first and foremost ‘toaster’, his voice was as rich as ever. He was preceded by Black Uhuru who delivered a hit laden set and as much as I have been a big fan for decades they didn’t move me as much as I wanted them to.
The Dub Shack played host to some of the best sound systems around, I couldn’t let Friday night go by without some serious dancing to the mighty ‘Channel One’ and ‘Aba Shanti’ after the main stage closed. On Saturday we ventured over for some ‘Instrument of Jah’ and caught ‘Direct Impact’ a Japanese system who looked like they were enjoying themselves as much as the crowd. Saturday night saw some serious moves again with ‘Iration Steppas’, who never fail to deliver a glorious and weighty set.
Special mention has to go to Jashwha Moses, and Talisman, both local to me in Bristol; my hubby recommended a booking for Jashwha and thank you One Love for listening. We were a little dismayed to find that Jashwha was opening the main stage at 11.30 am on Sunday morning with Talisman to follow, as mentioned earlier the festival is out on the campsite at this time.
However, Jashwha Moses played a blinder. He has gone from strength to strength since we first saw him play just over a year ago, mind you his latest album No War on Earth has all the tunes he needs for a great set. He genuinely connected with the audience who braved the wind and the rain, he seemed to enjoy it too, a thoroughly nice man. Talisman are becoming mighty as they get better, stronger and tighter every time we see them, and it’s been a few times now.
Respect to One Love!
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