Lavender Sutton attended the Saturday of the 2022 Love Supreme Festival.
Recognised as “The most spectacular jazz festival in the country”, Love Supreme has become a highly anticipated weekend event hosting some of the best jazz, funk, R&B, Hip Hop and Soul all in one place.
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It combines the European jazz festival model (Montreux and North Sea) with the UK camping festival mentality and hosts ‘standard’ camping, ‘supremium’ camping and even ‘glamping’ for those who are looking for a higher end experience.
You can also just get a day pass without camping and take the train down from London straight to Glynde, followed by a 15 minute walk or a very stylish tractor ride directly to the festival gates.
Once all the logistics of the day are worked out and you get your chosen wristband to enter – the world is your oyster! With 5 stages, the festival boasts something for everyone, representing both some of the most recognised names in the industry as well as smaller stages to champion up and coming and local musicians.
The stage timings are staggered so it is possible to check out a little bit of everything that’s going on. There’s even a Love Supreme App that showed the timings and listings of the weekend to keep track of where to go next. This was a very helpful tool that was usable offline, as there is very little cell service in Glynde Place.
Kicking off the main stage, with some of his favourites as well as a little peek into his most recent release, Theatre, Joe Stilgoe and The Entertainers were a perfect start to the day. A combination of comedic originals and well-arranged familiar covers, he took the time to highlight his stellar band full of London stalwarts (Sumudu, Giacomo Smith and Tom Farmer to name a few) and the mainstage arena filled up pretty quickly.
In the middle of the day, pianist/multi-instrumentalist Jon Cleary (Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, and B.B. King), on tour from New Orleans had everyone in the South Downs tent grooving. In the Supreme Standards tent, the budding London-based R&B singer-songwriter Bel Cobain had her fans in the crowd, singing along with her popular singles that featured a few horn players and some rap. Tomorrow’s Warriors Sultan Stevenson Trio were laying down some traditional bebop at the New Generation Jazz area with a dedicated crowd of picnickers laying out in the sun.
Back on the mainstage, Samm Henshaw impressed with some gospel inspired R&B. Known for being handpicked by Chance the Rapper and James Bay to support their tour, Samm Henshaw’s set was uplifting yet grounding and had the arena pit waving their arms along with him for the whole hour. It was the perfect festival set – big, full band sound, charismatic and catchy music. Aside from the headliner, Henshaw was the standout performance.
Tom Misch, a Love Supreme veteran, worked the room (or field?) well, playing his funky, neo-soul hits to an audience that knows them all too well from Spotify playlists and coffee shop soundtracks.
Nearing the end of the evening, Lianne La Havas had the prime support slot of the evening. Her fans were there in droves singing along with her hits like Bittersweet, Green & Gold and Unstoppable. While her music is more smooth and relaxing with elements of soul and folk, it was in good contrast to what was next to come.
After a fairly long stage set-up and the construction of two (!) drum stages, R&B and Hip Hop legend Erykah Badu finally took to the stage with her band – DJ, piano, bass, four backup singers and drums and percussion. Known for her quirky nature, the arena was full of equal parts trepidation and excitement as she descended to centre stage in a giant coat made of rags and an African inspired headdress.
The Love Supreme audience is such a mish-mash of personalities, it was hard to know how many people in the crowd were just up for a fun festival evening and how many were actually familiar with Badu’s music but it didn’t seem to matter as she launched into familiar tunes like Next Lifetime, On and On, Telephone and Window Seat.
The production elements, (featuring footage from Soul Train, some trippy light shows and a vocal effects mic that she used on one song) added to the entertainment value. There were parts that seemed unscripted and genuinely reflected her ‘in the moment’ performance style – as she stopped mid-song to move on to something more in-line with the mood – and it was easy to see how much she wanted everyone to be a part of the show as she asked the audience to sing along with her.
She treated everyone to an uplifting spiritual message in the final song: a cover from the musical The Wiz entitled Believe In Yourself in which she spoke directly to the audience in between sung lines from Lena Horne’s tribute. At the end she hopped off the stage and posed for photos, reaching out across the security gates to high-five and shake the hands of the crowd leaving everyone smitten with this once bad-ass, rap-influenced goddess. The Festival Line Up poster for the festival called the performance a ‘UK Exclusive Performance’ and as far as that’s concerned, it was one to be remembered.
Love supreme Festival website / The 2023 festival is from 30 June to 2 July.
Categories: Live review