Music

Festival Report: On Blackheath

The festival season came to a stylish close in the genteel surroundings of Blackheath, London. On Blackheath is the latest addition to the festival circuit, and aims to mix an eclectic music line-up with high-end cooking. The result is a family-friendly festival, which at times makes you feel like you’ve landed into Center Parcs during half term – but Massive Attack are setting up next to the climbing frame.

The two main stages are flanked by posh burger vans, upmarket dining halls and a large cooking demonstration area right out of your local John Lewis, who are the festival’s main sponsor. Classes range from meringue making to perfecting your summer BBQ, and always attracted a large crowd over both days.

Taking care of the music were the likes of Grace Jones, Massive Attack and Frank Turner. Grace dazzled on the Saturday during her set, which at times verged on the bizarre – and that’s not even including her many outfits – but ultimately it reminded the crowd why she is such an influential artist.

Saturday night headliners Massive Attack put on a stunning career-spanning live show. They were joined by many of their collaborators over the years, including Martina Topley Bird, and as the moving strings of Unfinished Sympathy played out over the heath, guest vocalist Debroah Miller brought the first day to a dramatic close with her soulful vocals.

The Sunday had a more rock leaning line up, with Frank Turner leading the way with an impassioned set, strong enough to bring out the inner teenager in anyone, while former Glasto favourites The Levellers showed why they were such a staple of the 90s festival scene.

Over on the second stage, Gilles Peterson’s expertly curated line-up and DJ sets ensured the festival had a vibrant and eclectic feel, and influential record label, Heavenly, brought along some of the best new bands around, including Toy and Jagwar Ma.

With a diverse line-up and up-market vibe, On Blackheath proved to be a welcome addition to the festival circuit – let’s hope it returns for another year.

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