Festival Review - No Logo BZH 2019
08/14/2019 by Gerry McMahon
TO GO OR NOT TO GO TO NO LOGO?
With festival fever peaking annually in August, the big question was whether to go or not to go to No Logo in Saint-Malo, Brittany, France (August 9 - 11, 2019). Having surveyed the line-up, the answer was to go and savour the sweet sounds of reggae music at its very best. This was the right decision.
Set on a now defunct 18th century army fort site, over three days the festival features a massive main stage and dynamic dub station, with an array of stalls and side shows of all description serving the needs of thousands of enthusiastic reggae fans.
DAY ONE - AUGUST 9, 2019
A windy start saw Brittany’s own energised The Sunvizors - with the vibrant vocals of Joy to the fore – kick off proceedings, before the Spanish celebrities Iseo & Dodosound accelerated the pace with lively stage antics, ably aided by a solid but sensous brass ensemble. Next up came the good old Abyssinians, with vocalists Donald Manning, Clancy Eccles and George Henry doing much justice to their stock of classic songs, including the everlasting Satta Massagana, Declaration of Rights, Abendigo, This Land is for Everyone and Good Lord, with Mr. Manning making time to counsel his adoring audience on matters of a highly spiritual and political nature. Thereafter, much to the delight of their French fans, Raggasonic did as their name suggests, in a truly ragga sonic style, whilst a steady of flow of traffic to and from the nearby Legal Shot Sound System dub station - where the irrepressible YT and Sister Nancy were packing them in – ensured that all tastes were catered for. Patrice’s popularity was apparent from the moment he came on to the main stage, but the surprise package in the proceedings was the wonderful Highlight Tribe, who put in a powerful performance of thrilling trance, with plenty of percussion ably aided by Greg’s didgeridoo.
DAY TWO - AUGUST 10, 2019
After Senegal’s Lidiop had warmed the crowd, Skarra Mucci’s gravel pitched but polished quick-style delivery drove the temperature higher, as his set swung from soul to rap, with generous measures of reggae thrown in too. Then it was back to the music’s roots, as The Congos - with Pura Vida in tow - kicked in to maximum effect. Their set was a magical mix of old songs, like Fisherman, and new songs, like We Nah Give Up, before surprising the massive with Food For The Rainy Day as their finale. The main stage proceedings then moved to the ever-popular French band Sinsemilia, before the irrepressible Alpha Blondy gave his audience the ‘big band’ treatment, as he raged through his ever-popular song stock, frequently interspersing it with pointed political pronouncements. The mood lightened thereafter, with Busy Signal’s take on Desmond Dekker’s Shanty Town and the night’s proceedings were brought to a close by Anthony B. His delightful version of So Much Trouble in the World set the exhausted audience up for a well-earned night’s sleep. But not before checking in on the jam-packed dub station, which was graced with the presence of leading lights like Oku Onuora and Eek A Mouse.
DAY THREE - AUGUST 11, 2019
After Tairo had teased the youth, Amadou & Mariam gave a bright and breezy show as they engaged the early evening crowd. Next up, Israel Vibration’s Skelly & Wiss and their adoring audience had no problem with the rain, showing that they had lost none of their punch as they let loose with Why Worry?. Kassav’ then gave a strong and stylish performance to provoke a crowd swaying response, leaving Morgan Heritage and their family generations to open the show with their own Strictly Roots and to close it – and appropriately, the festival - with Jimmy Cliff’s Reggae Night.
Overall, this is a well organised festival, serving the needs of all reggae fans, whatever the taste or type. Without sponsorship, branding or other financial supports, it is truly ‘independent’, with an easy friendly vibe. So now the question is: to go or not to go to No Logo in 2020? Answer: Where do I join the queue?