Reflecting on the Portobello Live Festival - by John Roseveare
I woke up in my own bed on May 4th, in the middle of a new two day music festival, and reflected: there was no gauzy smell of tent; I was neither too cold, too wet, nor too hot; my wristband had cost £10 instead of £150; no long car queue lay waiting to pounce on my weekend sensibilities; there was no over-priced food in sight, no long journey home, no mud, and no overflowing toilet.
Portobello Live is the brain-child of local promoter Micky P. With over 80 bands, a bunch of literary authors, DJ’s and cabaret artists in 9 venues in and around the Portobello Road for a tenner, he has managed to create an urban festival that felt as if it had been there for ever.
As oblivious to the traffic streaming across the Westway above our heads as the drivers were to us below, the opening line up in the roughshod Acklam Village venue on Sunday offered a stomping soul set from local girl Alexia Coley - my personal highlight – followed by the promise of different kind of soulic journey, in which drummers drummed and our phones were somehow planting trees in Highgate woods. I was confused, but probably just wearing the wrong kind of soul. In the Book and Kitchen I got wedged behind a pillar as the place was so full, but caught at ‘S’ Neal Brown’s reverse alphabet satire of visual art nonsense speak, much of which seemed to focus on orifices of one kind or another. On Monday night our very own Delphi Newman tore down the house at the Mau Mau bar. We beamed with pride.
What made me so happy I wondered? Art, heart, and endeavour. Of course. But vitally, I had arrived at the Festival via a 5 minute bus ride, and can’t have been alone in a heart gladdened at the sight of so many eccentrics, hairys, self-defining slap-heads, high-hatted, side-hatted, cravated, socially and variously housed, middle aged, young, old, and congenially wasted OUT IN FULL FORCE, cocking a snoop at the monocultural money-weather that has rained on Notting Hill these past years. Pause to reflect too, that when the space under the Westway was given over to a Trust in 1971 to appease locals who weren’t convinced the A40 needed to be raised over their heads like a scalextrics track - in the process creating, at 23 acres, the largest community land holding Trust in the country - common sense happened. It doesn’t always.
So hats-off to Micky P, who never takes off his own. Come to think of it, has anyone seen the top of his head?
Images courtesy of Patrizia Tagliatti, Paul Winstone and Ray Jones