West London’s Portobello Live! festival returns for third year

West London’s Portobello Live! festival returns for third year

Portobello Live! is returning to the Notting Hill area of London over the May Day bank holiday for the third year running.

Festival events are spread out around the pubs, clubs and venues of Portobello on 30 April-1 May. Headliners named so far are veteran punk performance poet John Cooper Clarke, Glen Matlock (of the Sex Pistols), The Egg, Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot (from Curiosity Killed The Cat), Don Letts and Rusty Egan, with more to be announced. 

Portobello Live! claims 100 acts over the two days, including The Members, Bandante, Bexatron, Savage Nomads, Nadia Sheikh, Tall Poppies, Blue Zoo, Gaz Mayall and Noel Watson.

The festival features cabaret, spoken word, debates and art, as well as music. This year’s Portobello Live! takes a retrospective look at Rock Against Racism (RAR), a movement which was born 40 years ago to combat the rise of political groups such as the nationalist and racist National Front. RAR founder Syd Shelton will reflect on the movement, which burst onto the scene through music and marches, and organised “carnivals” or mini-festivals inspired by Notting Hill’s annual summer bank holiday street party.

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The history of RAR is highly relevant in today’s socio-political climate. Underlining the event’s perspective on current events, the Oasis World Choir — composed of refugees from Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan — will sing at Portobello Live!

Portobello Live! is a Community Interest Charity (CIC), representing the local community. The festival is promoted by Micky P and held in association with dance label Wall Of Sound and Rough Trade records. The Arts Council have offered Portobello Live! a small grant to fund a “new” programme for the festival, Micky P says. 

Last year’s event was marred by ID requirements at one of the main venues, a club called Mode that has now shut down. Bemused festival-goers were refused access by the club, despite having bought all-access wristbands. This resulted in the final festival shows being performed to an empty venue, and an early end to the event. 

“We learnt a few hard lessons last year and we’ve tightened things up. We definitely don’t want a repeat of last year’s chaotic scenes,” Micky P says.

One relatively cheap wristband (previously £10 for “early birds”, now £20) will allow entry to all acts and venues over the two days of the festival. Under 16s go free. Venues include Acklam Village, the Cow, Mau Mau, Rough Trade, Westbank, Rum Kitchen, Maxilla Social Club and Book & Kitchen. 

The Portobello Live! festival is supported by local patrons including Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, and Don Letts, the filmmaker, DJ and author, formerly of Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D.).

Wristbands for Portobello Live! are available now at the musicglue website, the portobellolive website and at Rough Trade, 130 Talbot Road W11.