GIG REVIEW: ONBlackheath: starring Paloma Faith, the Lightning Seeds & the Mariachis

WHERE?: Blackheath (Press ticket)

WHEN?: 8 and 9/9/18

It couldn’t have been more apt that the 5th annual ONBlackheath music festival was opened on its Main Stage by Blackheath singer/songwriter Mancie Baker.

  • Read on for reasons including who else is on the line-up for this fine south-east London festival

Mancie is the daughter of broadcaster Danny Baker and he joined her here to introduce the acts that feature in this two-day festival a stone’s throw from both the Thames and Greenwich Park.

Mancie’s acoustic set provided a relaxed introduction to this event and it was during a cover of country music artist Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart that it caught fire.

Our favourite original song was called Guidelines which boasted the memorable chorus: ‘Next time we’re alone get me off my ‘phone, look into my face, tell me everything, don’t hold back a thing, just don’t be afraid.’

We think her voice has a quality similar to Sophie Ellis Bextor’s and all too soon her set was over.

Next up on the Main Stage was all-women trio Marine with an unusual blend of ska, a B52s-ish beat and a musicianship that sounded to these ears like Fleetwood Mac and Talking Heads.

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir brought their covers of the hits including their 2015 Christmas number 1 A Bridge Over You, a mash-up of Coldplay’s Fix You and Simon and Garfunkel’s A Bridge Over Troubled Water.

We saw Billy Bragg recently at Southsea’s Victorious Festival and he seemed a little more out of sorts than then. Always great to hear him sing his great original Sexuality though.

What distinguishes ONBlackheath from many of its rivals is that it has a boutique feel with an emphasis on good food and entertainment for all the family with a designated area for children and their own stage. We even spotted the cocktail bar below.

Our ONBlackheath Sunday starts with the Lightning Seeds on the Main Stage. Two of those on stage are sporting England shirts but lead singer Ian Broudie ignores the inevitable requests for recent chart topper Three Lions. Instead we have a set heavy on musicianship that substitutes guitars for much of the synths on the band’s most popular songs.

It works well and we especially enjoy the snatch of Lost In Music within Marvellous. Broudie grumbles about it being too hot and too early but this is a great start to our day.

We catch the turbo folk of TSMB on Stage 2 and love the brass covers of Europe’s Final Countdown and the Mission Impossible theme.

We’ve written before about our love for the Mariachis (see main picture) and we’ve never seen a tent fill so fast as when their cover of the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me in distinctive Mexican style fills the air.

The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be is a highlight as is a version of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now that we don’t think we’ve heard them play before. Their original Rhythm Of the Sun even gets the crowd singing along. There really is no more fun festival band than them.

De La Soul play after not making it here last year when billed and, despite being at least half an hour late, they’re worth their wait. Their Me, Myself and I and Ring, Ring, Ring are probably the most rapturously received of the day.

We saw Paloma Faith a fortnight ago at Southsea’s Victorious Festival and here, not too far where she grew up in east London, she seems more chatty.

We might not be big fans of her latest album The Architect but we do admire her for writing about subjects like motherhood, not doing yourself down and being kind to others which might not have filled her record company with too much enthusiasm.

Our favourite songs in this set are the dancetastic Can’t Rely on You and cover of the Mamas and the Papas’ Make Your Own Kind Of Music which Paloma used to advertise Skodas and her explanation of why sums up perfectly how down-to-earth she is.

As the sun sets on another ONBlackheath, we’ve had a brilliant time, very much enjoyed the emphasis on local acts and can’t wait for it all to return in 2019.

  • Pictures by Ian Phoenix courtesy ONBlackheath. Tickets
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