Ben Westbeech lights up RAW Rhythm Festival 2009

The 2009 edition of the RAW Rhythm festival, hoping to fill the shoes left vacant by its predecessor DRUM Rhythm, is finished. Two great days filled with good food, good friends and great music and performances. Here is my review.

Day one: start with a bang

The festival started with an early performance by Lamb, one of -if not the most – my favorite bands. Lamb got back together again after they split up 5 years ago to persue other projects (such as Lou starting her own label Infinite Bloom, and singing on two Cinematic Orchestra albums, and Andy doing Hoof and Luna Seeds). But now producer Andy Barlow, singer Lou Rhodes and bassplayer Jon Thorne are touring the festivals again, playing their old songs. We saw them first at the Cactus Festival in Brugges, Belgium a couple of weeks ago, and the basically played the same set.

Lamb @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009

Lamb live @ RAW Rhythm 2009

Lamb @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009

Lou Rhodes taking center stage

Lamb used to be 5 people, with Icelandic Oddur Mar Runnarson playing the guitar, and Dane Nikolaj Bjerre as the main percussionist. But now it’s just the three of them on stage.

Lamb had the difficult task to play early in the evening, in the largest venue at the Westergasfabriek, with gorgeous weather outside. By the time they started playing, there were only about a hundred people about. Their audience gradually grew, but they had to work hard to get the positive and energetic vibe they’re famous and loved for.

I especially liked Lou’s singing, her voice has matured over the years and become rock solid and fragile at once. Her voice is a love it or hate it thing, apparently, as a friend who joined us for this performance told us later, her voice annoys him.

And Andy and Jon were their usual energetic selves, with Andy firing up the fans by taking the bongo’s (or whatever these drums are called) to the front stage and soloing a bit.

I loved seeing Lamb perform live again, this must have been our 8th time. And I can’t wait for their live CD/DVD to be released (as their Wikipedia page announces). But in all honesty, their performance was lacking that bit of extra fire, the interaction with the fans and audience, and frankly, the drummer. It made a big difference, but not enough to ruin the performance.

There’s one little anecdote I’d like to share with you all that relates to Lamb. I twittered about the performance, and I got a special kind of reply:

Tweet @Herko Lamb was awesome! As usual 🙂 @RAWrhythm #RR http://twitpic.com/ca9d6
Reply @Lamb_lover It’s so easy using up roast lamb leftovers, wrapped in foil and kept in the fridge they’re good for two days

Ben Westbeech and Jazzanova

The rest of the evening were dedicated to walking from one hall to another, finding some good tunes to dance to. Ducth rappers Zwart Licht were able to get the crowds going crazy in an instant, but that was just loud noise. Ryan Leslie was a slick smooth talker with a good show on the main stage, and Dizzee Rascal was ok, but not my kind of music. Nneka was great, she has a voice like a real soul diva. And then we came to Ben Westbeech.

Westbeech is a producer/singer/DJ from Giles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings label. His was a DJ set with vocals. Jazzanova was there to tweak some knobs as well, apparently they know eachother and have worked together for a bit. But Westbeec clearly wanted to have a good time. He played an impressive set of funk, soul, house, hip-hop and sang in some of those tunes as well. There weren’t many people in the audience at first (Dizzee Rascal was performing on the main stage), but as the set continued, the dancefloor filled up nicely.

Ben Westbeech and flute-girl @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009

Ben Westbeech + flutist @RAW Rhythm

Ben Westbeech and Jazzanova collab @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009

Ben Westbeech & Jazzanova

Ben Westbeech (photo @arnecoomans)

Ben Westbeech (photo @arnecoomans)

And thus ended day one of the RAW Rhythm festival 2009. The old Drum Rhythm vibe was there, the quality of the artists was high, the food was good and the weather was too.

Day two: not so much

The second day of RAW Rhythm started with us getting more bracelets, as the photographers and crew bracelets we got yesterday apparently didn’t cut it for today. So now we got a new photo bracelet, and uniquely a backstage access bracelet. We looked kinda like a freakshow with all those tags, if you ask me.

 

Tagged

Tagged

This second day was main sponsor G-Star RAW Denim’s day, apparently. They held a ‘private’ party, inviting a bunch of ‘celebs and babes’ as my brother put it. This meant that there were a lot of people there who didn’t come for the music, who were more interested in how they looked, and by whom they were noticed, and this didn’t have a positive effect on the festivals vibe. It became more tense, and more crowded outside. The effect was that DJs were playing in a smaller room, near empt, while outside were hundreds of people drinking and eating.

Anyways, back to the music, so to speak. Surprise soul act of the festival was Leelah James, sort of a smaller (and younger of course) version of Tina Turner. She has a great voice, and an awesome band, but she clearly didn’t like that fact that she had to start off for a rather empty and docile main stage.

And we saw De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, which was nice (but also not my kind of music), and Chuckie and Lil John. Chuckie is ok, but Lil John is just nasty. And for some reason, there’s a LOT of talk and interrupting going on, in stead of just playing the music and letting everybody dance.

We also saw Roni Size, who is clearly still king of the jungle. His beats got the whole room up and jumping from the very first start. Roni Size was awesome. For me, it was the best of the whole day.

Anyways, the second day just didn’t reach the same high as the first -for me. Overall we enjoyed ourselves very much ,and hope to see the festival return next year!

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