WHERE?: On Blackheath
WHEN?: 13 and 14/7/19 (press tickets)
‘After gallivanting around the world twice, it’s nice to be home,’ says Jamiroquai mainman Jay Kay at the start of this 1st UK gig of the year.
- Read on for reasons including details of appearances by Swing Out Sister and Grace Jones
We’re not sure whether it’s the fine weather or the move from a September to mid July slot but this ONBlackheath crowd for a headliner is the biggest we can remember during our 3 visits here.
Kay is sporting a tracksuit and trademark elaborate illuminated headgear during an 85-minute showcase of the greatest hits of his 26-year career.
We’re not huge fans of the 70s disco funk that draws heavily on Stevie Wonder but when it works, as it does on numerous occasions here, the crowd is spellbound. We love the cheesy handclaps of Little L, the orchestral stabs of Canned Heat are still a real bop and Virtual Insanity sounds more like a song for these times than ever before.
‘It’s nice to be back home,’ concludes Kay and Jamiroquai are probably the most appreciated band we’ve seen by an audience here since we started attending in 2017.
We live a 10-minute walk from this beautiful Blackheath hilltop site looking down towards the Thames and this is our 3rd year in a row visiting this boutique music festival with a distinct family friendly feel.
It’s an early bow for this celebration which usually takes place in September and it faces strong competition from rival events across the capital but its village-goes-festival feel will doubtless differentiate it enough to triumph.
‘Blackheath are you ready to dance?’ asks British singer/songwriter and record producer SG Lewis as his laidback electronic music with guest vocalists reminding of Disclosure gets Saturday’s ONBlackheath main stage bill underway (see picture below).
He gives a shout out to tonight’s headliners Jamiroquai for their inspiration and the mood in the festival’s front rows where we are dancing is of a party just getting into its groove.
We’ve always wanted to see Swing Out Sister and never quite managed it in the more than 30 years since debut hit single Breakout but this afternoon we do for more than an hour at the second stage – and it was worth the wait.
They’ve so many great songs that they don’t play anything from their majestic 2nd LP Kaleidoscope World which includes the amazing You On My Mind.
But they’ve seemingly been reunited with saxophone and brass players from yesteryear which boost their sound no end from the rather 2D-feel of their recent live output on iTunes.
2nd song Am I The Same Girl? is as joyous as we remember it and there are even choice cuts from their debut hit LP It’s Better To Travel including Breakout, Surrender and Twilight World.
Lead singer Corrine Drewery (pictured above) gives it her all and it’s a set that meanders but also hits some real pop heights. Absolutely joyful and triumphant.
On Sunday we enjoyed Rag’n’Bone Man who proved how soulful and affecting he can be with songs Human and Giant hitting home most.
The absolute highlight of the weekend however was festival closer Grace Jones whose hits-packed, 75-minute set showed both what a fine singer and entertaining performance artist she is. We were stood next to US comedian Wanda Sykes for most of it also.
Jones did a costume change after virtually every song but never let the momentum slip, either conversing with the audience or singing still, while changing.
She rounded off festivities with a sublime Slave To The Rhythm which she hula-hooped throughout but it was the penultimate Pull Up To The Bumper where she piggybacked a security guard to high-five those in the audience at the very front of the stage that was impossible to top.