Love Supreme is the type of festival for those people who don’t usually go to festivals. And for those who do too. For newcomers to music festivals, its compact size makes it easily navigable, with 3 main stages, a smaller bandstand surrounded by the food village, bars around the outside and camping area around the perimeter of the festival site – a million miles away from the muddy treks from field to field of festivals like Glastonbury, which many will only have ever experienced through BBC iPlayer.
As ever, the festival demographic ranged from jazz heads and families with small children to 45+ middle class white males and Prosecco mummies, who were for the most part basking in the sunshine on their camping chairs and picnic blankets in front of the main stage for the whole weekend – and who can blame them? The main stage offered quite a spectrum of artists, from Riot Jazz Brass Band’s opening set on Saturday to Burt Bacharach’s finale on Sunday, the line-up was quite safe and crowd-pleasing, without ever leaving you feeling too jazzed out. If you were seeking a bit more of serious/challenging jazz, the Big Top and the Arena were your best bets.
My favourite performance of the weekend was by GoGo Penguin, a trio of piano, double bass and drums, who were performing in the Big Top on Sunday afternoon. They were energetic, virtuosic and completely spellbinding. The audience was stunned in silent awe of what was being performed, erupting into applause at the end of each track and after the individuals performed solos. I was pleased to see that they are playing in Brighton later this year so I will definitely be getting tickets. Other favourites included Sumo Chief on Friday, Ibrahim Maalouf & Kandace Springs on Saturday and Avery*Sunshine & Kelis on Sunday. Meanwhile, the strangest performance of the weekend was Esperanza Spalding Presents Emily’s D+Evolution, which included such stage props as a bookcase and the drummer in a 180 degree transparent soundproof box. Whilst the musicianship was impressive on all accounts, it was quite ‘out there’, and I think beyond many of the audience’s understanding (myself included).
As far as festivals go, Love Supreme is definitely one of the nicest festivals around, with very few people there who don’t look like they’re having a really good time. From what I could see, it must have been very dull for the bouncers as there was little cause for them to intervene throughout the whole weekend. The glamping options this year included Hobbit Huts, tipis, wagons and pods, allowing more people than ever to get a good night’s sleep and not have to struggle with dissembling a muddy tent before heading home. The food that I tried was all very tasty and wholesome – the duck fat chips and Purbeck’s ice creams were probably my favourites, with risotto, a steak sandwich and squid rings also hitting the spot when hunger kicked in throughout the festival.
The Rough Trade record shop seemed quite busy throughout the festival, with a large number of the artists doing signings after their sets, as well as a couple of Q&A sessions next door in The Verve Lounge. These small things make the festival stand out from larger festivals, allowing the artists to speak to their fans and the fans to meet their musical heroes. My one criticism of the festival this year is that it lacked some of the heavyweight jazz names of past years e.g. Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Jools Holland and Snarky Puppy. That said, I left the festival happy that I’ve seen some great performances from some of the best jazz artists from the UK and overseas and I look forward to the first announcement about next year’s festival and the first acts to be released.
Review by Tom Sayer
Photos by Nicola Jackson