Love Supreme Festival

Glynde Place, Glynde, Saturday June 30 – Sunday, July 1

EARTH, Wind And Fire made one tiny misstep in their brilliant headlining show at Love Supreme – not doing the England terrace chant version of their hit September.

Three Lions fans have adopted the song for Russia 2018, changing the chorus to “woah, England’s going all the waaaaay”.

A bit of a missed opportunity then – England know all about that.

In some ways the sixth Love Supreme festival resembled the current England campaign.

Sunday night was like the match against Panama – thrilling and utterly unforgettable.

Saturday night was like some of the other matches – it had its moments but didn’t gel the way everyone hoped.

Saturday kicked off well enough with Level 42, the retro soul and hip-hop mash-up of Mr Jukes and the smooth soul of singer Lalah Hathaway.

Saturday, June 30

Critics may deride Level 42’s Eighties’ jazz funk but they can work a crowd.

Affable bassist Mark King – he of the famous thumb-slapping style – was in good voice on a rapturously received set that included Running In The Family, The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) and Something About You. A big thumbs up.

Love Supreme scored a coup by luring US tenor sax legend Pharoah Sanders over to headline the big top.

His mix of cosmic jazz, African highlife and be-bop can be thrilling.

But the frail 77-year-old was only occasionally near his best, content to punctuate the groove with his famously scratchy sax rather than lead it.

Main stage headliner Elvis Costello wasn’t on top form either.

His 90-minute set with The Imposters was a crowd-pleaser, with ballsy versions of Pump It Up, Girls Talk and Radio Radio.

But his voice was shot, particularly on A Good Year For The Roses, Alison and Shipbuilding. The Imposters were surprisingly ragged too.

The set was just about redeemed by a storming encore of Oliver Army’s and (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding.

Sunday, July 1

Sunday was a blast and proof that Love Supreme’s policy of mixing off-beat and experimental acts with legacy and populist names works.

It was great to see the big top packed for bassist Dave Holland, tabla player Zakir Hussain and tenor saxophonist Chris Potter. A thrilling mix of western jazz, blues and Indian raga.

Mavis Staples had a deserved full house too for a stunning set of old-school R&B and gospel that reached a peak with Respect Yourself and I’ll Take You There.

She’s 78 but her rasping vocals are astounding.

Big top headliner Steve Winwood is a mere 70 but his voice hasn’t aged a jot since he was a Sixties’ teenager demanding Gimme Some Lovin’.

Winwood has got better and better since his mega-stardom days receded, happy to rework his Traffic and Blind Faith glory days in inventive ways. Magnificent.

Over on the main stage, singer-songwriter Tom Misch channelled some of Winwood’s blue-eyed soul on a set of melodic pop funk that was fun without ever being truly memorable.

Very different and much more in your face was George Clinton.

The Parliament/Funkadelic genius may be content to let his band take the spotlight but his mix of funk, rap, Frank Zappa-esque prog and just about everything else has never seemed more timely.

Maggot Brain, I’m Gon Make U Sick O’Me and Give Up The Funk were booty-shakin’ masterpieces.

Boogie Wonderland, Let’s Groove, Fantasy, September – Earth Wind And Fire know how to get a party going.

The Seventies’ funkateers may be down to just three original members – long-time frontman Maurice White is greatly missed – but the band’s original spirit marches on.

Luckily they still have the sweet falsetto of Philip Bailey and a string of hits that have soundtracked many a love affair and, in After The Love Has Gone, many a divorce too.

Great stuff and their version of Got To Get You Into My Life is still the best Beatles cover version ever.

Simon Copeland