Lake of Stars, a star in the making and a rant about festivals
Most of the time support acts are the bit you either (a) stand at the bar and chat through; (b) time your arrival to miss completely, or; (c) watch politely while looking at your watch and waiting for the band you’ve actually come to see. Last night added a (d) to the list; another dimension I’m not sure I’ve ever seen happen before in over 30 years of gig-going.
The night was a London show at the gorgeous Union Chapel to publicise October’s Lake of Stars, a unique and noble festival venture that brings African and European acts together around Lake Malawi in a setting that no festival in the UK can match. My colleague Hannah went last year to see the Maccabees (go figure) and was much taken with the many African acts she saw and now can’t remember the names of (that’ll be Maccabees fans for you). Here’s the link. www.lakeofstars.org
Made me think how annoying it is that if you want to hear African music at a British festival you have to go to the worthy worldy likes of Womad, or put up with bands from Brooklyn who’ve just discovered highlife and/or Fela Kuti. Much African music works best in the outdoors and scattering a few choice acts through the bill at Latitude, Green Man, End of the Road etc, would surely get the crowd on their feet more than the landfill indie acts that form many a festival backbone. And while we’re on the subject, reggae would suit the vibe too, no? What’s with this cultural apartheid, people?
Back to last night. The main act was the Noisettes but I can’t tell you what they were like cos I’ve got a cold so left early. The support act was Tinashé, a 25-year-old Londoner who was born in Zimbabwe and the thing I’ve never seen happen before is that he got a proper, genuine, heartfelt, rousing and whooping standing ovation. He deserved it. His singer-songwriter shtick is nothing unique but he has a great voice, a magnetic charm and the hint of African influence gives him a USP in an over-crowded genre.
I shot this snippet. It’s not his best song by any means (“Good Times” is worth a listen, if only for the lyric “Wow! I never thought it’d be like this/ I’m 19 and I’m looking at a goddamn quarter-life crisis/ Two GCSEs and a studio flat in Ruislip/ Tell me am I too late/ To get a train back to good times?”
For the technically minded, the instrument Tinashé is playing is a mbira (a Zimbabwean thumb piano) and the zoom lens I used is the sophisticated GUOMFAWTTS for iPhone (that’s Got Up On My Feet And Walked To The Stage).
Tagged in: cultural apartheid, End of the Road, Fela Kuti, Green Man, highlife, Lake of Stars, landfill indie, Latitude, Malawi, mbira, music, quarter-life crisis, Ruislip, support acts, the Maccabees, the Noisettes, Tinashé, Union Chapel, Womad, Zimbabwe
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