The One Love Festival started in 2008 and this is the seventh year in a row that the event has been held. This year we’re at Springfield Farm in Milton Keynes, about 45 minutes from London so relatively easy to get to from various parts of the UK. The three day festival features four main areas, the Main Stage, a smaller stage called the Madiba Stage , the Lively Up Yourself tent and the Dubshack tent, both featuring different sound systems over the course of the weekend. The mighty and well established Saxon Sound System also have their own tent where they take up residency for the whole of the three days playing a wide variety of Reggae styles from Rocksteady to Roots to Bashment. They also play hosts to Bunny “Striker” Lee on the Sunday as he’s promoting his documentary “I Am The Gorgon”. A great tent to wander into throughout the weekend as you’re always guaranteed to hear something good.
The layout of the festival was well thought out, with no stage being too far away so it was easy to go from one to the other to check out who was playing. There were also a decent variety of food stalls, always important when you’re camping on site, ranging from traditional West Indian food like jerk chicken with rice and peas to the “Bombay Bus” which was a converted school bus with plenty of room to sit down in that served delicious vegetarian Indian dishes.
There were unfortunately a couple of no shows, Brushy One String and Macka B, especially disappointing as I particularly wanted to see Brushy One String live for the first time and have always been a fan of Macka B’s conscious, uplifting and danceable take on Roots Reggae.
Highlights would have to be Dubcatcher and DJ Vadim who played an energetic set over Vadim’s up tempo Reggae productions, The Skatalites featuring original vocalist Doreen Shaffer, who run through a great selection of classic Skatalite songs as they celebrate their fiftieth year, and Cornell Campbell and The Soothsayers who also put on an entertaining show. The Battle of the Dubplates Championship Cup was also a lively affair. Featuring Sentinel Sound from Stuttgart, the veteran Coxsone sound, Natural Affair from the Midlands and Fatman International Sound and hosted by Earl Gateshead from Trojan Sound System. A busy tent danced to lively tunes and were entertained by insults traded between Sentinel and Fatman before Fatman Sound merged as the eventual winners.
A special mention has to go out to Sir John Holt who headlined on Saturday night and began his set well with a run through of his classic songs like “The Tide Is High”. Unfortunately he collapsed after about thirty minutes and had to be attended to by paramedics after being carried offstage. Apparently he was still recovering from recent surgery but had decided to go ahead and do his show, but the word from his family is that he is recovering well.
One Love is a great weekend with a decent set of acts. All you can ask of any festival really.