Review: Lively Up! Festival at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Photo Credit: Ben Amure



Lively Up! Festival
(Queen Elizabeth Hall. 24th October 2012. Review By Rob Edgar)


1962 saw Jamaica confirm its status as an independent country. Last night saw the London leg of the Lively Up! Festival tour at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, one of 7 dates around the UK celebrating this with a reworking of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ seminal debut Catch a Fire, plus other well-known tunes.

The sold out concert featured the Jazz Jamaica All Stars, The Urban Soul Orchestra under the baton and watchful eye of Kevin Robinson, and Voicelab .

This entertaining evening featured unmistakeable references to
the original music of The Wailers: the close-knit harmonies of the delightful backing singers Zara McFarlane, Valerie Etienne, and Rasiyah Jubari on Slave Driver being one pleasing example. Slave Driver also featured a solo from newcomer to Jazz Jamaica, baritonist Teresina Morra. She played a laid-back solo that was lazy and just a bit behind the beat (in a good way!) cementing her place in the band.

No More Trouble, in the intro, sounded as though it would not have been out of place in a gritty 1940’s cop film before the 80 strong Voicelab choir (under the direction of Mark De-Lisser) sounded together at maximum volume; combined with the luscious string arrangements played by the Urban Soul Orchestra lead by violinist Stephen Hussey (who, just moments before in Stir it Up had played a Stéphane Grappelli-esque solo with Miles Brett replying in a more pentatonic and straight ahead but no less gratifying way) gave almost everyone in the audience goose pimples.

This is a complex production, and the practicalities of manoeuvring total of up to a hundred and ten people on- and off-stage meant that the opportunities for individual adventure and creativity are limited. But as Bob Marley once said: “Me only have one ambition, y'know. I like to see mankind live together." And on those terms the evening was a success. Before long, thanks to talented singer Brinsley Forde's engaging if occasionally formulaic MC-ing, the entire audience was up dancing, singing along, as one.

Lively Up! is produced by Dune Music and Tomorrow’s Warriors and supported by Arts Council England and PRS for Music Foundation.

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