OnBlackheath Festival 2017, London – 9-10 September 2017

Posted by Gig Junkies on Sunday Sep 10, 2017 Under Festivals

Review and photography by Marianne Brits-Strodl.

I headed to leafy south-east London this past weekend for one of the last summer festivals, OnBlackheath. The festival is sponsored by John Lewis and its fourth year. What makes the festival different is that it caters for all ages. A sea of families, running toddlers, strollers and Hello Kitty balloons welcomed me. With an array of activities to keep the children occupied, if I had any, this would also be a festival I would comfortable take them to.

The first act I caught was Earl, new jazz musician and vocalist all the way from Los Angeles. Her new release “Tongue Tied” has been receiving accolades from critics, which they call “an album unlike anything you’ve heard this year”. An ode to the smoky bars of yesteryear and Josephine Baker, her set was filled with romantic jazz, blues, Charleston and swing inspired tunes. An outstanding act and I have had her album on repeat since. Very highly recommended and I hope that this is the beginning of a revival of females in Jazz.

Earl at OnBlackheath

One of the headliners on the mainstage on Friday was Joe Mount and his musical project, Metronomy. They’ve already performed Glastonbury, Secret Garden Festival, and headlined at Blissfield this Summer and closed their festival season with OnBlackheath. The electronic music group was formed in ’99 with Mount (vocals, keyboards and guitar), being backed by Oscar Cash (saxophone, backing vocals, guitars and keyboards), Anna Prior (drums and vocals) and Gbenga Adelekan (bass guitar and vocals). All band members were dressed entirely in white, sans Gbenga in an interesting African-print-top that reminded me of those Madiba used to wear. Metronomy played a guitar-driven electronic set with bright flashing lights and synth solos and got the crowd get moving. Not my taste of music, but the crowd had a great time.

Metronomy at OnBlackheath

Metronomy at OnBlackheath

Before the main attraction of the day, Basement Jaxx filled up the second stage tent and treated the crowd to some of their best material, showcasing the best in British electronic/DJ material.

Travis, nostalgia band from the noughties then took to the stage on cue with Fan Healy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), dressed in a t-shirt and kilt.  Dougie Payne (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Andy Dunlop (lead guitar, banjo, backing vocals) looked dapper in suits. The band achieved worldwide success throughout the 2000s, particularly through the band’s 1999 album, ‘The Man Who’ which they also brought to the OnBlackheath mainstage in full. Past glories stood the test of time and the band performed a first-rate set that included crowd anthem like ‘Why Does it Always Rain on Me’, warm in-between banter and the NHS choir for Lewisham and Greenwich joining them on stage for ‘Flowers in the Window’.
Other acts that performed on Saturday were: urban poet Kate Tempest; American rocker four-piece, The Districts and winners of Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent contest, She Drew the Gun.

Travis at OnBlackheath

Travis at OnBlackheathTravis at OnBlackheath

It was evident by the increase in attendees that Sunday was the more popular line up of the two days. Not even the gloomy, grey London weather could dampen the spirit of the crowd.

Grammy award-winner, KT Tunstall’s shocking green eyeshadow, PVC pants and wild psychedelic performance were received well as she owned the stage in entirety and throughout connected with the crowd.  This level of charisma is rarely seen, nor a performer that engages the audience quite like her. She instantly won over the crowd and her set mixed folk tracks with beat boxing, pop and some rock. Exquisitely eclectic character, a show(wo)manship to remember.

KT Tunstall at OnBlackheathJake Bugg at OnBlackheath

Jake Bugg, who just released his fourth album, ‘Hearts That Strain’ took the stage to the shrieking teenage girl’s delight. The set was a mix of tracks from all four of Bugg’s albums. Die-hard fans left satisfied, with Jake’s voice stronger live than on the album, however, that was the only thing that saved this with little to no stage presence and interaction with the band and audience.

Jake Bugg at OnBlackheath

VANT is another band you must see and probably one of the most exciting bands around.  The London 4-piece played to a packed out second stage tent on Sunday and their roaring vocals and weighty riffs got the crowd soaring with vocalist Mattie Vant ending the set by jumping into the audience playing guitar.

VANT at OnBlackheath

VANT at OnBlackheath

American-hippie-turned-rocker, Seasick Steve’s gravelly voice and guitar slides got people’s feet stomping. His latest release, ‘Keepin The Horse Between Me And The Ground’ was his fifth consecutive top 10 UK album and celebrates being alive and loving every minute of it. The sincerity of his performance stood out – just a musician, having a true passion for entertaining and having a lot of fun doing it.

Seasick Steve at OnBlackheath

It might just be the cold and rain, but it felt like I waited forever for Sunday’s headliner, The Libertines to come on stage, whom eventually entered fashionably late to a western tune and jumped straight into it with ‘Time For Heroes’. The band was big during the garage rock revival of the noughties, split up in 2004 – much to dismay of fans – but like many bands do, reformed in 2014 and released an album in 2015 titled, ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth.’  The band has been called a “powerful spectacle” and this just about sums up their performance on Sunday. The bromance between frontmen Carl Barât (vocals/guitar) and Pete Doherty (vocals/guitar) was strong and the band was airtight and professional. I was skeptical about this performance (for no reason) and they performed and excellent set crammed with fan favourites. They ended the festival on a high note with performing an encore of ‘When The Lights Go Out’, ‘The Boy Who Looked At Johnny’ and ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’.

The Libertines at OnBlackheath

The Libertines at OnBlackheath

The Libertines at OnBlackheath

Other artists on Sunday, amongst others, were IDLES, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Black Honey, Tom Grennan and The Cuban Brothers.


It was a fun festival weekend with few queues, good music and friendly staff. Cheers!

For more photos from the weekend check out our Flickr page!

Leave a Reply