Field Report… Q hits the great outdoors this summer to explore the the spectrum of music festivals on offer. Matt Yates heads to Sussex’s Love Supreme (4-6 July)
Cynics may point to the queues at the posh coffee stand or the influx of pop-up deckchairs threatening to steal the show at the main stage as damning evidence of Love Supreme’s oh-so-middle-class credentials, but that would be doing a disservice to an event that this writer believes is well on its way to becoming a must-attend fixture in the already-packed-to-the-rafters British summer festival calendar.
Now in its second year, Love Supreme has been tagged “the Glastonbury for jazz and soul heads”, but I believe its appeal lies beyond merely “jazz” and “soul”… a stunning setting, its ease of access, its size and – most importantly – its air of unerring positivity. And when De La Soul played the Main Stage as the sun slowly disappeared behind it on the Sunday evening… well, it was almost spiritual, man.
The odd head-scratching addition to the bill notwithstanding (rockabilly revivalist Imelda May, though a wonderfully entertaining artist who went down a storm on the Saturday afternoon, was neither “jazz” nor “soul” the last time I looked), the organisers ensured that the line-up’s core did adhere to a pretty tight sonic brief. And yet, from Talkin’ Loud jazz-funk veterans Incognito to Grammy-winning vocal supremo Gregory Porter (who, incidentally, drew one of the weekend’s biggest crowds to his set in the Big Top – if he’s booked again, dear promoter, best give him a slot on the Main Stage) to the high-energy dub-punk-jazz-funk-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink fusion of Melt Yourself Down, it was diverse enough to keep a crowd of around 15,000 rapt and on their feet (or at least in their deck chairs) across the whole weekend. Even Laura Mvula’s intimate, harp-and-double bass-assisted Saturday afternoon set offered something different again, making perfect sense as the clouds darkened and a few specks of rain began to fall.
Talking of the elements, Love Supremes I and II have, for the most part, been blessed with decent weather. It remains to be seen how the “positive vibes” cope when, as anything mentioned in the same breath as Glastonbury one day surely must, inclement weather makes its presence felt – though it would appear Jazz FM’s Jeff Young seems to know something we don’t when he tweeted: “We don’t do mud”.
But until then, Love Supreme – regardless of any of its so-called bourgeois trappings, which, let’s face it, few festivals are immune from these days – can be considered a major success. With a just-diverse-enough bill and a very mixed, thoroughly decent, up-for-it, happy crowd, what’s not to Love?
For more head to Lovesupremefestival.com.