Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1083

Welcome to B&S

BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS...

Live

Afropunk Fest London 2017: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17

Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com
Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Thundercat - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nao - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Corinne Bailey Rae - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Thundercat - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Thundercat - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Thundercat - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Thundercat - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Thundercat - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nao - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nao - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Sate - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Sate - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Little Simz - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com ML (Mickey Lightfoot) - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com ML (Mickey Lightfoot) - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com ML (Mickey Lightfoot) - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Corinne Bailey Rae - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Corinne Bailey Rae - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Saul Williams - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Saul Williams - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Cosmo Pyke - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Cosmo Pyke - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 22-23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Lianne La Havas - Afropunk Fest London: Printworks, London 23/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com

It may only be in its second year in London, but the Afropunk festival already knows how to pack a punch.

It's worth making it clear from the off that to approach reviewing it as simply as a two-day music event is perhaps too narrow a view.

Afropunk is more a celebration of black culture and diversity, with large signs around the venue reassuring visitors that they are in an environment where discrimination of any description will not be tolerated.

The movement has its roots in Brooklyn more than a decade ago, and has since established itself across the world, with Paris and South Africa among the places holding similar events this year.

Its opening event was held at Alexandra Palace, with Grace Jones among those at the capital's inaugural festival. This year the venue is The Printworks in east London, which is the perfect setting - there's space for two large stages, two marketplace areas and spots where artists produce huge paintings.

For all the edginess of the setting, the vibe inside is nothing but welcoming, with complete strangers striking up conversation and sharing their love for good music.

And it's a strong bill, combining all kinds of music and giving an audience to stars of the future.

Conscious British rapper Kojey Radical delivered a strong set before grime artist Nadia Rose got the crowd moving with a confident, bass-heavy performance.

She had the crowd jumping in the upstairs red stage during her short-but-sweet show.

There was a fast turnover of artists - most acts were only on for half an hour, with headliners afforded 45 minutes.

It gave performers, especially those establishing themselves, a chance to give a brief showcase of what they can do, and hopefully get fans along to future gigs.

A powerful set by Saul Williams saw the 45-year-old rally against injustice, performing rock-laden tracks from latest LP "MartyrLoserKing". The rapper, singer and poet defies labels, and donned a lengthy sarong during his half hour set.

Little Simz then proceeded to deliver a strong grime set, during which she brought out Syd from The Internet, who would later headline the main stage.

There was a complete change of pace downstairs, as British songstress Corinne Bailey Rae created a more ambient atmosphere.
Her voice is a powerful instrument and she had the audience enchanted.

From there it was back up the stairs to catch rapper, Danny Brown. For those who have never seen him before it would be quite an experience.

The Detroit artist has a staggering flow, and the only criticism of his set is that most of the crowd wished he had more time.

Another characteristic of this year's festival was the superb quality of DJs, and it was a delight to see Soul II Soul's Jazzie B on the decks taking festivalgoers on a musical journey starting with - of course - the era-defining "Back To Life".

The energy levels reached a crescendo for a storming performance by JME upstairs, before US collective The Internet brought the first day to a close on the main stage with an assured and enjoyable set.

After some sleep, it was back to the venue the following day, with thousands of fans making their way back to the venue for an eclectic mixture of artists.

Singer/songwriter Connie Constance had the audience dancing upstairs, while Toronto singer Sate delivered an exciting set combining blues, funk and rock which had crowd members leaping around.

It's been a busy summer for British star Nao, with performances at festivals around the world, and her set would be the third time I've seen her this year (the other two being at Parklife and Love Supreme).

It's easy to see why the invites keep coming, as she's a compelling artist and her performances of "Bad Blood" are always a highlight of her sets.

Next up came producer and bassist extraordinaire Thundercat, one of the key collaborators on Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" album and artist behind the eclectic and brilliant "Drunk" long player.

His 45-minute set was full of funk, and the three musicians onstage put in an excellent shift. His inclusion on the bill bears testament to the festival's broad appeal.

There was an exodus upstairs for the performance of Willow Smith before the final act of the weekend, the UK's own Lianne La Havas, closed the festival on a high note.

She kept it simple, with just herself and a guitar onstage, and managed to perfectly hold the audience's attention throughout, with high points including a flawless version of "Gold And Green".

Afropunk may be in its infancy in the UK, but as a growing global movement, we can expect exciting things in years to come, based on a strong 2017 event.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter