Thursday, October 30, 2008
elvis reunited with downhome music in south london aircraft hangar
Festival New Orleans @ the O2, 25th October
It's understandable that, after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina two years ago, the State of Louisiana authorities would want to take some measures to give their ailing tourist industry a shot in the arm. This two day festival, laid on free of charge and featuring some big ole New Orleans names--Dr John, Allen Toussaint and Buckwheat Zydeco--drew a huge turn-out. It was just a shame that these three great musicians were consigned to a main stage area which allowed a big crowd to see them but only a small number of people to hear them properly. Drum beats bounced off the curved roof, more than thirty yards from the stage only an echoey gloop was audible...
The O2 prioprietors had clearly not foreseen the possibility that a free festival featuring internationally-renowned musicians would draw a large crowd and consequently failed to provide adequate bar and toilet facilities. (So how did they manage with Led Zeppelin? Oh yes, that's right. They were charging £100+ a ticket for that one.)
There was a good mix of styles though reflecting the varied musical heritage of the Big Easy: I also got to see (and hear, in the more acoustically friendly Indigo2 and Matter venues): Mardi Gras "Indian" dancers (the Hardhead Hunters), a gospel group (the Anointed Jackson Sisters) and some top class New Orleans brass band music (the New Birth).
Few people who, like me, are regulars at free events on the South Bank will not have come across the East End Elvises and, sure enough, they were there too, not only bestowing their general approval on the proceedings but also, invited up on to the stage by Kermit Ruffins, giving full reign to their hip-swinging groin-thrusting moves and almost total lack of rhythmic sense...
As Buckwheat would say "How sweet it is!"