On Blackheath was undoubtedly a smashing victory. Saturday afternoon saw Blackheath Common buzzing with the energy of thousands; people of all ages roaming the grass in search of things to do. There was no shortage of entertainment. The Neff Food Stage was a great place to rest and enjoy live cooking, boasting proper seating and a shield from the wind. Despite the cooler temperature and the frosty gales, each performance went off without a hitch to happy crowds. On the Giles Peterson World Stage, the act most noteworthy was soul/scat singer Zara McFarlane. Reminiscent of Billie Holiday with the power of Janis Joplin, Zara’s superbly controlled voice and classic talent won the audience over from the start.
The main stage sported an impressive line up. Aloe Blacc led the crowd in a Soul Train inspired dance, and Grace Jones mesmerised all with her rhinestone and sequin encrusted outfits and hoolahooping prowess (though her songs were less memorable). Massive Attack swooped in and finished of Saturday with a bang. The band played favourites like Paradise Circus, all the while silhouetted by a frenetic slideshow of brand logos, war statistics, tv news clippings, and brilliant lights. Massive Attack proved to be Saturday’s perfect showstopper, displaying their inimitable talent.
Sunday faired better weather wise, with more sunshine, less wind and a decidedly more rock n’ roll vibe. In the Heavenly & Friends Stage, bands like The Wytches brought music evocative of Pixies, while Stealing Sheep provided a light-hearted indie-electronic balance to the heavier rock sound. The main stage picked up steam with Athlete, whose popularity and quintessential end of summer sound made crowds gather (and remain, despite a brief sun-shower). While smaller in numbers, the audience on Sunday was more dedicated to the performers. The Leveller’s set featured a special appearance of a didgeridoo performer, and while the first few songs sounded a bit tired, the older punk band got better as their set went on.
Imelda May was the first of the evening performers, and as the sun set on summer festival season, her soulful and powerful presence pulled the crowds closer in. By far the most enigmatic and crowd-engaging performance was that of Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls. With the perfect balance of witty banter and sincere lyrics, Turner brought boundless energy to the stage. Debuting two new songs (the better one was titled Get Better) as well as a range of old ones like Ballad of Me and my Friends and never loosing his punk fuelled-energy, nor the crowd’s infatuation, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls gave a stellar performance, sealing the deal for On Blackheath’s resounding success.