Words by Matthew Osborne
The final day of the Mostly Jazz Festival was significantly calmer and less messy than the one preceding it.
On a personal level, I was a lot more sober; with the rest of the steadily gathering crowd also nursing bad heads from the Craig Charles after party at The Hare & Hounds.
The bands that played throughout the afternoon lent themselves to the casual mood, and there was a sense that after an evening of Funk, the mostly Jazz part of the festival had returned.
Bands like Gogo Penguin, Richard Foote’s Young Pilgrims and The Anthony Marsden Band lent eclecticism and a more international flavour to proceedings – enjoying them all, on the hillside, in the fine weather, was easy.
Things began to heat up as word began to spread that Andy Murray had finally ended our 37 years of Wimbledon misery. No doubt sensing a change of mood, Soul II Soul took to the main stage to make a party. I could only remember Back to Life from their heyday, but the set they played leading up to it was bass heavy, groovy and immense fun. People quickly found their dancing feet inspired by a trio of fantastically choreographed backing singers, a lively MC from round these parts and of course the hugely affable Jazzie B.
Immediately after Soul II Soul dropped their smash hit, Lokkhi Terra took to The Yardbird stage and began a musical journey across the globe. From South American Rumbas to Indian Folk via New Orleans, Cuba, Africa and Europe, the collective of international musicians led by Kishon Khan played a fantastic set – hindered only by the sudden mass exit about halfway through, when Nile Rodgers began tuning his guitar on the neighbouring stage.
I made sure I gave Lokkhi Terra my full attention as I have an understanding of how crushing it can be to play to tiny audiences; although I have never known the demoralising kick in the face of having half of my audience leave instantly, without explanation and at the same time.
If I have one criticism to level at Moseley Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival, it would be that putting both stages right next to each other is unfair on the bands, particularly those who aren’t international mega stars.
That is my only criticism and in the interests of fairness I have aired it. However, all of that counted for nothing when Nile Rodgers finally led Chic out onto the stage, dressed in Heavenly white from top to toe.
Launching straight into Everybody Dance to an elated reception, the band ripped through hit after disco hit. The set list was mouthwatering. I had no idea how many Chic songs I knew, and was even more surprised at how many incredible records Rodgers has had a hand in.
Not only did we get Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out and Upside Down, Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Sister Sledge’s Lost in Music and of course, Chic’s own Le Freak, we were also treated to my personal highlight of the festival, delivered via a very charismatic drummer. After much talk about how, when he dropped the next tune, “Everything is gonna go off,” he strapped on a head mic, thumped his drums and sang “Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh” and suddenly we were bouncing to Bowie’s Let’s Dance, which he sang to us with an exquisite Bowie impression. Dutifully, we sang it back at him in kind.
I was amazed at how much I had enjoyed their set. I never saw myself as a disco fan, and anybody who knows me will know how difficult it is to get me up onto a wedding dance floor, but it turns out that I love it, I love disco. Either that or I have been picked up by the early eddies of a disco revival wave which must surely be coming to break forcefully over the singles charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
It is a surprising development in my musical history, this sudden fascination, but it is exciting to have found something again that encourages my feet to move, to groove even. Disco is the sort of craze that I wouldn’t mind seeing dragged out of the nostalgia cupboard. Anything that we can do right now to find some positivity, some romance, or even some escapism, cannot be a bad thing.
6,000 people who saw Chic with me last Sunday would definitely agree. Those in most enthusiastic agreement would be those members of the crowd who were lucky enough to get up on stage to dance their way to the set’s finale alongside the rest of Chic. It was a wonderful sight, accompanied by wonderful sounds, and couldn’t have closed the festival in a more deserved way.
Though still a small festival, Mostly Jazz is making big ripples, dragging people in from all across the country.
Moseley village was beside itself with excitement all weekend, and when people look back and reflect on the summer of 2013, those lucky enough to have been there will remember with a grin that they were dancing with thousands of happy people in Moseley Park when the summer truly began.
For more on Lokkhi Terra, visit https://myspace.com/lokkhiterrakishonkhan
For more on Soul II Soul, visit http://www.soul2soul.co.uk
For more on Nile Rogers & Chic, visit http://nilerodgers.com
For more on Mostly Jazz, visit http://mostlyjazz.co.uk/