Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Live

South Facing - Poppy Ajudha, Nubiyan Twist, Ghetts, Kojey Radical....: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21

Poppy Ajudha - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW
Poppy Ajudha - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Ghetts - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Ego Ella May - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Kojey Radical - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Pip Millett - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Jazz Karis - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Poppy Ajudha - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Ghetts - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Ego Ella May - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Kojey Radical - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Pip Millett - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Jazz Karis - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Poppy Ajudha - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Ghetts - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Ego Ella May - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Kojey Radical - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Pip Millett - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Jazz Karis - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW Poppy Ajudha - South Facing [Cross The Tracks]: Crystal Palace, London 6/8/21 REVIEW

In years gone by the Crystal Palace Bowl was one of South London's biggest live music attractions. It's where Bob Marley played his last London show, and over the decades it attracted huge names to Crystal Palace Park, a few minutes walk from the famous dinosaurs.

But in recent years the distinctive stage, branded the 'rusty laptop' by locals, has sat empty, at risk of heading the same way as the dinosaurs. So news that a summer of concerts was being hosted at the Bowl was a massive deal, with a month of shows scheduled throughout August. On the back of music festivals being shut down for more than a year, the first show had the feeling of a new dawn, an exciting opportunity to relaunch the venue as large events get going again.

The opening night was run by the excellent Cross The Tracks team, a sister event to their main festival in Brixton at the start of September. This being 2021, there were always going to be snags, with scheduled headliners Masego and Mariba both unable to travel due to restrictions. As disappointing as that was, the organisers pulled a rabbit out of the hat to secure the services of Kojey Radical and Ghetts instead.

This year's shows are being held using a floating stage on the lake at the heart of the Bowl, an impressive feat in its own right. After such a long and bleak time unable to go to festivals, it was beautiful to see a crowd gathered once again to watch live music. Of course, the opening act, the excellent Ego Ella May, had only just got going when the English weather delivered a huge downpour, in case anyone had forgotten the realities of watching music outdoors in this country. Unfazed, May delivered a strong set and showing why there's so much excitement around her. "Girls Don't Always Sing About Boys" and "Give A Little" both sounded as fresh as the weather, and the audience wouldn't have complained if she was on for longer.

The same was true of Jaz Karis, who followed her to the stage… in the past four years, she's been building a name for herself with some strong releases, and looked an assured stage presence as she delivered a flawless version of recent release "Mistake", as well as 2018's brilliant "Petty Lover". Another artist with big things ahead of her is South Londoner Poppy Ajudha, whose track "Weakness" is one of the standout soulful records of 2021 so far. She commanded the stage, clearly over the moon to be back performing again as the sun burst through the clouds. "Strong Woman" was delivered with power and assurance and showcased an excellent UK talent during her excellent set.

Next up was Nubiyan Twist, who performed an eclectic set drawing on jazz, afrobeat with plenty of soul and getting the crowd moving. Pip Millet is another artist who's been making moves during lockdown, and her joy at seeing a large crowd was clear for all to see. Make no mistake, she's a top talent, and tracks including "Hard Life" and "Make Me Cry" had the audience in the palm of her hands.

Days before Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown, the last artist I was able to catch live was East London rapper Ghetts, who put on a superb show at Kentish Town Forum. In the months since the 36-year-old has been busy, with latest record "Conflict of Interest" rightly winning plaudits. He's an excellent live performer, brilliantly firing through "Fine Wine" and "IC3" in a 45-minute set that showed audiences what they've missed so much in the past 18 months or so.

The night drew to a close with Kojey Radical taking to the perfectly illuminated floating stage, delivering a high energy set. "Cashmere Tears" sounded incredible as the crowd joined in, and his delivery was on point throughout. All in all, it proved to be a triumphant return for live music to the Crystal Palace Bowl. It may have been some time since it hosted huge shows before tonight, but on this evidence, there are plenty of exciting times ahead.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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