|Fold Festival 2016|
24th - 26th Jun 2016
Fulham Palace, Bishop's Ave, London, London, SW6 6EA, United Kingdom
Tickets for adults (with camping) from £54.00
Fold Festival was an absolute pleasure to be a part of on Saturday 25th July. This year saw Fold present its inaugural festival in London – having gone off with a bang the night before, the second day of delights proved to be another beautiful experience at Fulham Palace.
The weather slightly unpredictable, one thing that could be relied upon was that the quality of live performance at this festival (curated by Chic's Nile Rodgers) was going to be second to none - with a variety of multi-genre artists carefully selected not only to appeal to all tastes, but to keep the party atmosphere going all day long.
Upon arrival at Bishop's Park, we walked through the beautiful leafy surroundings to the entrance of the Fulham Palace, where upon collecting our wristbands, we were directed to what would have been the formal back garden of this stunning country home – previous residence of the Bishop of London, its history dating back to the 11th century. There's no doubt that many a garden party had been hosted here over the centuries, but maybe none quite like this one.
The lawn was transformed into the festival site, surrounded by luscious evergreen trees, it was a hive of activity immediately upon opening the festival gates. The stage set up against the backdrop of the palace itself took centre position, with an array of street food vendors dotted around the perimeter of the intimate festival field.
Excited about what was on offer, we had a good look around, enjoying the lively cooking displays as we worked up an appetite. There was certainly a global theme to the delights on offer – the first sign that this was a festival for everyone – there was bound to be something for you to get stuck into and enjoy. From pan-fried paella to Thai sticky beef, vegetarian and vegan delights, as well as churros we were spoiled for choice!
Shortly after our tasty welcome meal, Nile Rodgers greeted us on stage to tell us a story and introduce us to the concept of Fold Festival and how it came about. It felt so up-close and personal to be engaging with Nile on this level, his warm anecdotal delivery skills prompting smiles and laughter from the crowd. Fold Festival had been conceived in response to the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival's wish to honour his contribution to music.
Nile decided the most appropriate way to do this was to curate a form of celebration – getting in touch with his fellow musicians and artists, before he knew it, he had a full festival line up on his hands. This culminated in an 11 hour tribute show at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2012, which celebrated and honoured the music that Nile has pioneered over the years.
Eager to re-create the buzz of this marathon show, Nile launched the first ever Fold Festival in New York last year and due to it's overwhelming success, he decided to take Fold on tour – so here we were, a part of this amazing celebration in London this year.
Introducing the first of Saturday's performers, Emin, Nile described how they met and worked together following Emin's performance at a charity gala. An absolute bundle of energy, Emin (from Azerbaijan) came to the stage with his band to perform a brilliant opening set that had everybody dancing to a funk-dipped pop/rock fusion of songs, which were all new to us – making this such a brilliant experience and a wonderful way of discovering fresh international talent.
Emin had such a charismatic personality, he was clearly honoured to be playing and was eager to pass on his message of love and unity to the crowd; ‘you have to love each other, that's all you can do!’
Emin's award winning collaboration with Nile Rodgers, Boomerang, was sensational – with Nile joining him on stage to play the legendary 'Hitmaker', providing his trademark rhythm guitar sound to a funk infused, uplifting track that had the whole crowd clapping along with their hands in the air. We loved this sound, with Emin's performance providing an enormous feel-good vibe as the sun continued to shine over Fulham Palace.
In between the live bands and artists, there was no rest for your dancing feet as Techno Queen, Nicole Moudaber was on hand to deliver an array of deep, delicious beats – this time with more of a house feel, although still delectably dark. Her slick, cool style behind the decks is incomparable – she has a magnetic stage presence that just draws you in to her set, it was just a shame that her setup had malfunctioned meaning she could not take presence at the centre of the stage.
A credit to her, Nicole let the music do the talking here with a divine tribal house sound emanating from the impressive festival sound system. The bass was heavy, however you felt lifted – it was dirty, yet delightful. Having warmed us up, she dropped Dennis Cruz' 'New Life' – which delicately samples Nina Simone's 'Feeling Good' over a blend of acid house claps and a huge minimal bass hit. Nicole mixed this straight into ‘Prove Them Wrong’ and Vertigo's ‘Broken Memories’ – couple this with the glorious sunshine and planes flying low overhead, we had our fix of vibes akin to Ibiza's Paradise @ DC10. Pimm's and bass leads to a very happy place!
The atmosphere got happier as Anne-Marie and her band appeared on stage. Familiar to most following her work with Rudimental last year, she proved to us all during this live set that she is a force to be reckoned with and definitely one to watch in 2016. Her personality is infectious, and you feel instantly warmed to her due to her abundance of energy, amazing rapport with the crowd and her sensational vocals. Time stood still as we listened to Anne Marie. We'd heard of her, but we were absolutely blown away by this girl and her band, who were so down to earth, so real – you felt a connection as you watched them perform.
Writing her own songs about life experiences, Anne Marie sang from the heart with a powerful, raw, soulful, reggae inspired style – her voice characteristic of jazz singers from the olden days in the Caribbean. She felt every word she sang, she felt every note that was played – this translated over into her emotive performance. It's really difficult to put into words how amazing her voice was – we can only encourage others to go and listen to her, witness her talent and fall in love with her 'girl next door' persona.
Along with classic jazz undertones, Anne Marie also embraces the modern street sound, her band performing a festival set with a distinct drum and bass influence, the highlights of this being her latest single 'Alarm' and the wonderful sing-along anthem about love -'Do It Right'. Her downtempo rendition of 'Gentleman' was also spectacular, the audience responding with a rapturous applause. The New Adele? Just maybe...
The festival site was now really busy, despite this, the atmosphere remained relaxed and friendly throughout. Nicole Moudaber returned for a second set, this time playing ' Slowly Burning' by Christoph feat. Jem Cook – a track that could quite aptly describe the feel of the crowd bubbling with excitement ahead of Chic's appearance. The strings sampled from The Beatles ‘Elinor Rigby’ filled the air as the deeper hints of Solomun's remix of 'Queen of Europe' by Ost & Kjex then mixed in.
And then, there were Chic. Nile Rodgers took to the stage with the band that started everything for him, and many would say started the revolution of Disco music across the globe. There is absolutely no doubt that Chic are some of the most experienced musicians in the business, but what really resonates through their performance is how passionate they all are about the music that means so much to them.
They performed a perfect, set of Chic classics, as well as some more recent hits which we all know and love. A medley of hits penned by Nile and Bernard Edwards as The Chic Organisation had us singing our hearts out - Diana Ross' ‘I'm Coming Out’ and ‘Upside Down’ followed by Sister Sledge's ‘We Are Family’ had the entire crowd united as we were transported back to the era of glitter and glam.
Nile playing the legendary rhythm guitar riffs we all know and love right in front of us got us giddy, his tight collaboration with Jerry Barnes on bass one of the most epic things we've ever witnessed. The energy of the whole performance was immense, with a particular highlight being Kimberley Davis' stunning vocal rendition of ‘I Want Your Love’. She excelled again with Daft Punk's ‘Get Lucky’.
‘I'll be There’ - their most recent single release last year was out of this world. Created form the archives of Chic recordings to create a brand new track, Nile and the band were sensational – delivering a passionate, funky, disco-fuelled performance. It was impossible to keep still, you had to groove along.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the set was ‘Le Freak', it's well-known chorus quite aptly describing what the crowd were getting up to at this point, the entire garden at Fulham Palace 'freaking out' as they jumped around executing their finest disco moves, closely followed by the Grand Finale ‘Good Times’ which really brought everyone together. Accompanied by festival-goers on stage, Chic excelled with an extended festival edit of this feel-good anthem – they had us salsa dancing, rapping along to the lyrics of the Sugar Hill Gang, wishing this set would never end.
Leaving us on an absolute high, it would be difficult for most musicians to follow such a performance with an acceleration of energy and charisma. This was no problem for Beck, who closed the festival, taking us to another level with his super-quirky, cross-genre style whilst entertaining us with his fantastic personality and showmanship. Having played FOLD in New York, he knew exactly what to do to keep the party going.
Early into the set, we heard the 1993 classic ‘Loser’ with its distinct country style riffs and psychedelic tones, again the whole crowd united to sing – for many, this would have been the soundtrack to their teenage years.
‘Dreams’ was another song that stood out, the band had an amazing rapport and Beck's energy did not dwindle – the percussion was on top form throughout.
And for something a little special, Beck performed a stunning combo of ‘I Think I'm in Love’ and Donna Summer's ‘I Feel Love’, along with the wonderful ‘Billy Jean to Sissyneck’ before taking us back to the street vibes of ‘Where it's at’.
An absolute credit to Beck's vocal range and skills on lead guitar, in tribute to Prince, he delivered an ecstatic performance of ‘1999’ - and indeed, we felt that the party atmosphere at this point was just phenomenal.
Having enjoyed what was the most amazing, intimate day with these superb artists, the most overwhelming thing that Fold Festival left us with, was the feeling of love and that music can make the world go round. Regardless of what was going on outside of Fulham Palace that Saturday, we all left feeling ecstatic, with smiles on our faces as if we'd been on a different planet for a few hours. It was a beautiful experience, and we can't wait to be back next year. Nile Rodgers sure knows how to throw a party.
Reviewed by:Gwen Angood
Photos courtesy of Fold Festival