Images by Carl Russ-Mohl.
In the run-up to the (hopefully) glorious UK festival season, Love Supreme returned to London’s legendary Roundhouse for its 2019 warm-up event. The festival, which mainly features jazz, funk and soul artists totally blew our socks off last year (read all about it here) and it was great to be invited back for round two.
The Roundhouse is a roomy space, that holds an impressive variety of places to exhibit multi-media installations. Much like last year, the room on the top floor was devoted to various documentary screenings, including ‘Northern Soul- Living For The Weekend’ the BBC’s made-for-TV exploration of the famous 1960s cultural movement. A great use of an otherwise unused space that encouraged a variety of art forms at Love Supreme.
One of the highlights of last years’ event was the simply excellent outdoor EHZ Stage which sported some smaller, more left-field jazz acts. However, due to noise complaints, there was disappointingly no outdoor stage, and the area it had previously filled became a haunt for smokers. It was such a shame to see such an interesting part of the festival be taken away, especially considering its replacement didn’t appear incredibly thought through. The Jazz In The Round Stage has located unhelpfully next to the exit doors and just next to a very busy bar, making it impossible to really move or actually see anything of the stage. GIGsoup caught a small amount of Alina Bhezhinska and her Hip Harp Ensemble who brought a fresh and ringing life to the music of Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, but it was difficult to stay in those swelling crowds for too long.
For us, last year’s top musical find had to be the amazing Cory Henry And The Funk Apostles, who added swagger and funk to the line-up. In 2019 however, the hidden gem was Manchester’s own Layfullstop who performed with a DJ in the downstairs Sackler Space. Blending a soul, hip-hop and jazz, Lay was a captivating one-woman show. A performer through and through, she was deliciously lost in her own craft, moving with the music and drinking up every minute. GIGsoup urges you to check out her ‘Colour Reaction’ Mixtape that came out last year.
In the large main room, Judi Jackson, completely adorned in red fabric swept around with her brand of lively neo-soul. With a full band in toe, Jackson’s sound was full and rich. The lively front-woman strutted the stage, filling the room with both her gaze and her compelling vocals. After a short break, South London’s Kamaal William’s took to the stage, Kicking off an instrumentally varied set, Williams and his band launched straight into a house inspired number. It’s pretty rare to see a daytime crowd ever really get down to anything, and Williams became visibly frustrated when he didn’t see the crowd moving:
“I’ve travelled a long way to be here, all the way from Peckham and I want to see some people moving. This is dance music. If I don’t see people dancing I swear I’m walking off stage!”
Leaving a slightly sour taste in his audience’s mouths, William’s expertly rattled through a blend of atmospheric jazz and Detroit house inspired dance music.
To top it all off, was Laura Mvula. Mvula has been taking a short break from touring in order to focus on recording music for upcoming projects. As such she has seldom been seen live since 2017, and this performance appeared to be an exciting one for the Birmingham-born musician. With the help of her keytar and band, she ran through tracks such as the Nile Rodgers co-produced ‘Overcome’ with energy and hope. Mvula presented a great level of skilled musicianship, a real treat for the Love Supreme Crowd.
Love Supreme brought a different musical landscape to the Roundhouse on Saturday. The general tone was much more atmospheric, banishing the funky and groovy elements that made last year great. Nonetheless, GIGsoup was glad to discover the raw talent of Layfullstop, who we’ll be watching carefully into the future.
Love Supreme’s mother event will take place between the 5th-7th of July this year, in its usual location of Glynde Place in East Sussex and sports the elusive Ms Lauyrn Hill as it’s headline act. Get your tickets here.