Ipswich: Neville Staple has treat in store for Live and Kicking audiences
- Credit: Archant
One of the region’s most popular music festivals takes the stage this weekend.
A record-breaking crowd is expected at this year’s Live and Kicking Music Festival, at the MEL Group Stadium in Sudbury, Suffolk.
More than 19 acts will perform at the event on June 22-23, headlined by Ska legend Neville Staple.
“I just can’t wait to get up on stage and do my thing, to share my music with the crowd, I have a fantastic set in store,” he says.
Despite playing at some of the world’s biggest venues and festivals – including Glastonbury as recently as 2011 – Neville adds in many ways he prefers performing at the smaller events.
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“You know what, they are all just gigs to me and I love them all big or small. I enjoy the smaller, more intimate events as you can build a better rapport with the crowd and really interact with them. I can’t wait to play in Sudbury, I hear there is a big ska following in the area and I am sure we are all going to have a great party.”
Neville – affectionately known as the “Original rude boy” - was part of the legendry Specials, the leading act of the 2Tone scene which swept the nation in the early 1980s and later, and a founder member of Fun Boy Three; changing the face of UK pop music not once, but twice.
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Even after the highs of the 1980s he has remained active, touring the world; more recently with his latest act The Neville Staple Band.
So, what can we expect when he takes to the stage in Suffolk.
“The set will be a real mixture of some of the hits from The Specials and Fun Boy Three with some of my own original songs. However, everything will have my own personal take on it, going very much back to the original ska roots with mixed tempos to get the crowd rocking,” says Neville.
“My set today is very much influenced by the music I grew up listening to such as Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff and The Upsetters.”
Today, he revels in doing his “own thing with his own band” and openly admits that due to band politics and personalities it is highly unlikely the original Specials line-up will ever perform together again; however his time in the band is something he will forever cherish.
“It was a great time, I was just a working class lad from the street. I was originally a roadie but Jerry Dammers (the band’s founder and keyboard player) invited me on stage at a gig and I never looked back and I became a singer in the group.
“All of a sudden I was playing all over the country and flying off to places like America and Australia to perform, it was a dream come true for me.”
After seven consecutive top 10 hits – including ska anthems Rudi, a Message to You and Gangsters – Dammers dissolved the Specials to pursue political activities, while Neville joined band mates Terry Hall and Lynval Golding to form the more “poppy” Fun Boy Free.
The new band enjoyed six further top 20 hits between 1981 and 1983, some in collaboration with the all girl trio Bananarama.
Although rightly proud of his musical successes, Neville is equally as proud of the social impact his music has had, particularly via his involvement with the 2Tone record label.
At its height, the record label had all the UK’s leading ska acts on its books including Madness, The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, The Selector, Bad Manners and the Specials. In a time of recession, social disruption and racial tensions of the late 1970s early 1980s, the 2Tone label is credited with brining black and white communities, particularly working class communities, together through a shared love of music.
“Jerry went to technical college but really The Specials were very much a working class band and we sang about life as we knew it and our experiences. We were never afraid to sing about the issues of the day and we refused to shy away from a subject because it was controversial,” says Neville.
“For example, Ghost Town was really about struggle, recession and depression when everything was closing down while Too Much Too Young took an honest look at teenage pregnancy. We sang about issues people could relate to, particularly working class people who were actually living and experiencing the things we were singing about.
“It’s quite strange really as many of the social issues in the early 1980s are very much the same now and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why our music has had a massive revival in recent years.
“One aspect of being involved with the 2Tone scene I am particularly proud of is the bridges it built between black and white communities. There is no doubting there was a lot of racial tension in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but through this music we were brought together. You had bands made up of a mixture of black and white musicians, which was rare.
“It was the same with the crowds as you had black youths dancing alongside white youths without a hint of trouble, which was really a first and it is a legacy which has lasted. Jerry was the driving force behind both The Specials and the 2Tone label, he was determined to show black and white people together in harmony, even the famous 2Tone logo was made in black and white to depict racial unity. All of what happed with the 2Tone scene was the foresight of Jerry Dammers and he should be given a lot of credit for the positive social impact he created.”
Today, aged 58, Neville has no plans to slow down. When not touring he’ in the studio cutting a new album which is due for release in early 2014.
“I may not be able to jump of speakers any more but I still love performing and making music, I have no plans to stop and I will go on for as long as I can,” he added. “We’re so excited by this year’s event; we have a packed programme with something for everyone. It’s our best ever line-up and we’re looking forward to welcoming the legendary Neville Staple,” said Richard Instance, one of the Live and Kicking organisers.
“Tickets are selling fast, there will be a record crowd attending and we’re sure there will be a fantastic atmosphere over the two days. We have great acts, loads of other attractions and great amenities for the kids so there is really no excuse not to be at Live and Kicking 2013.”
Neville will be supported by some of the UK’s top Paul Weller, The Jam, The Who, The Stone Roses, Oasis, The Commitments and Pink tributes.
They will be joined by original acts including Zeb Roots, The Mannequins, Old Town Souls, Oblivious, Absolution, Lone Crows, Poesi and Andy Hill; playing everything from rock and blues to funk, indie, pop, reggae and punk.
There will a host of other attractions at the event, now in its fourth year.
Vintage scooters which rode out in the Olympic Stadium while The Who performed Pinball Wizard will be on show thanks to festival supporter Sudbury Scooter Club.
“Taking part in the closing ceremony was, without doubt, one of the best experiences of my life; to be among that crowd with that atmosphere was simply amazing,” said club member Warren Brown.
“More than 50 scooter clubs from across the country were represented as the closing ceremony and I thought it would be a great idea if we could get some of those scooters on display at the festival.
“So far around 20 of those who took part in the Olympics have agreed to put their scooters on show at Live and Kicking including people from Sudbury, Colchester, Halstead, Braintree and London. The display will include some fantastic vintage scooters including a Vespa Rally 200, a Lambretta LI 150 and many more.”
Live and Kicking will also feature a two-day beer festival including a number of real ales, beers, bitters and porters put on by the award-winning Growler Brewery.
Day two of Live and Kicking includes a free children’s village featuring mega-slides, bouncy castles, entertainment, circus skills, Punch and Judy shows and gladiator duels with additional performances by Quay School of Dance and the Woodhall School Djemba Drums.
Compering the festival on day one is BBC Radio Suffolk drive-time presenter and Event columnist Stephen Foster. On day two he’ll hand the microphone over to bestselling Suffolk author and entertainer Charlie Haylock.
For more information about the festival, including who’s playing when, visit www.livekicking.co.uk.