Madness headline Jubilation Festival at Brockwell Park
What better way to mark the start of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations than a music festival in the sunshine, headlined by the one and only Madness? Even more apt given the quintessentially British band played atop Buckingham Palace for the Diamond Jubilee a decade ago. Hosted in South London’s Brockwell Park and billed as family-friendly, the celebratory event also featured the likes of the Mystery Jets, Squeeze, Supergrass and a host of other acts and DJs.
For the most part, the Jubilation delivered. In fact, for a London-based day festival, it was incredibly refreshing for it not to be dominated by a hipster 20-something crowd completely off their faces, and instead a wonderfully eclectic mix of ages and ethnicities – a true slice of the spectrum of people that make up “real London”, with entire extended families (from the grandmas to the tiddly grandkids on parents’ shoulders) in glitter, Union Jack-emblazoned partywear, dancing in the park together. It felt incredibly wholesome.
There was also entertainment laid on for the younger crowd, including a soft play area with a brilliantly DIY feel, put together with hessian sacks, cardboard tubing, fruit crates and tennis balls, village fete games – from a sack race to tug-of-war. A “mini-mad” kids’ dance tent, which was blaring drum’n’bass for much of the afternoon, counterintuitively provided the perfect vibe for the kids to burn off their ice cream sugar high, powered by Big Fish Little Fish family rave specialists and jungle legend Jumping Jack Frost. The mini ravers were loving every minute of it – only marginally more than their parents, it seemed.
Remarkably well put-together, nicely spread-out and helped along by the unshakeably good weather, there were plenty of spots to chill in the sun or shade, munching on decent food from a plethora of cuisines, sipping on craft beers or cocktails alongside the usual fare, or enjoying a Mr Whippy with flake from a fittingly British ice cream van (no longer 99p, mind…).
If wandering the sprawling grounds, music tents and other fun distractions wasn’t too distracting, there was plenty to soak up on the main stage. New Wave English rockers Squeeze warmed up the crowd with a few of their renowned tracks, such as Cool for Cats, as did Supergrass, who had the audience chanting in unison “There’s a low, low feeling around me / And a stone-cold feeling inside…” and “Can you hear us pumping on your stereo?”, their brand of rock having stood the test of time surprisingly well. There were also interludes from more Brit bands, including the uplifting sounds of the London African Gospel Choir and a DJ set from reggae music innovator Norman Jay MBE.
But, of course, most were sticking it out to see the real draw of the night – and they did not disappoint. Testament to Madness’s ever-loyal fan base were the hordes who came in fez caps, trilbies, braces and Doc Martens, evoking the era in which the North London ska band made their name in (fun fact: in 1992, the band caused two earthquakes during two separate gigs due to the numbers of people the jumping up and down in unison). They played a decent smattering of oldies and new material such as Baby Burglar, but the clear highlights were Lovestruck, Our House, the inimitable Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love. Are there any more simple but heartwarming words than: “Nothing more, nothing less / Love is the best”?
Effortlessly charming and at ease on stage, frontman Suggs, in his trademark shades, chatted away like he was propping up the bar down the local, and, apart from an off-colour remark about Amber Heard, got the crowd feeling all warm and fuzzy about coming together to skank around to the sax and their best-loved tracks and forget the crumbling world around them for an evening.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Jubilation Festival’s website here.
Watch the video for the single It Must Be Love here: