Massive Attack, Patti Smith and Warpaint open British Summer Time Festival 2016
Following a week of increased racism, bombings in Turkey and political treachery in Britain, few bands could harness this energy and speak up for our rights and their disgust better than Patti Smith and Massive Attack. Ghostpoet and TV On Radio are also on the bill, their performances are good but do not resonate in the way Smith’s does. “Remember you are free,” she screams as she erupts into People Have the Power. Four decades on from her debut album and her voice has lost none of its energy to stir a crowd. She introduces her son, also a member of her band, before rolling into Because the Night, “written for the man I loved, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith”. Her poetic prayers for all those who had been affected by the bombings in Istanbul encouraged cheers of support from the audience; she describes the Turkish fans as “an amazing group of people” as she mentions when she played there earlier this year. Her music is poetry; When Doves Cry ripples through the crowd, forcing even the most hostile dancers to sway in rhythm. The intensity of the set will stay in the minds of the audience giving hope in the bleakest situations.
Warpaint’s performance sets a more mellow mood – perhaps because the sun is coming out after a solid hour of rain,as a huge rainbow stretches across the sky. Watching them outdoors is different experience: their voices seem to float through the air, caught and diffused by the wind, and their guitars whisper rather than screech. But still they are transfixing and their slowed down version of Disco//Very compels the crowd to dance. Highlights include Undertow, Love Is to Die For and Keep It Healthy. They provide a dance rock haze to open the minds of the crowd to the political ideas of Patti Smith or to completely lose all thought and worry to the melody.
Even Warpaint are excited for Massive Attack who deserve the hype. The Bristol band show plays with the tense political situation. At one point quotes from the referendum dart up on the screen: “Take back power / No you take it back” ending with “We are all in this together”. Del Naja and Grant Marshall admit their horror at England’s Brexit vote, but refuse to be defeated.
There are contributions from Tricky – who sings Take It There – Horace Andy – who is wheeled on the stage with a broken leg to sing Angel, “take me back to the hospital,” he jokes as he is wheeled away – and Young Fathers, who join in with Voodoo in My Blood. “We want Massive” shouts a man in the front row, but this is not the general consensus, and Shame continues the attack on UK politics: “This song is for you Boris and Gove.”
Unfinished Sympathy ends the set with Deborah Miller on vocals cutting of the gig at a point when it feels unnatural to do so, leaving the audience craving and perhaps more angry than before at the political climate tinged with regret at what has been lost. What a line up to start British Summer Time with.
Photo: Toni Rosado/ScannerFM
For further information about British Summer Time visit here.