Review: Leadenhall Market Americana Festival
The idea sounded nice: a covered festival in the centre of London, 12 hours of high-class music in a historic and beautiful setting. The inaugural Leadenhall Market Americana Festival had a lot of promise. And indeed, in a sweltering London, the temperature inside the market was pleasantly cool, while still permitting shirtsleeves until its post-10 p.m. ending, and a relaxed audience held civilised gatherings around tables with plenty of beer and wine.
Nice venue, then. Pity about the sound.
Even deciphering what people were saying when they were speaking into the microphones was difficult; once they started singing and playing music it became little more than a blanket of sound. Whether the problem was due to the equipment, the mixing or simply the natural acoustics in the market, it turned a music festival into a summer party.
And that was a pity because the artists were of the right quality for the festival. Headliner Al Perkins turned up early to play with Last Train Home, who in return supplied him with bass player and drummer for his own performance. Brighton-based band Two Fingers of Firewater livened up the action in the evening, though they deserved a longer set. One of the highlights of the day was British singer-songwriter Andrea Glass, whose voice also overcame the acoustic issues better than many of the other artists.
Like the Maverick Festival last week, Leadenhall had to deal with some changes in the lineup following the cancellation of the Orbitsuns’ UK tour. The spaces were filled without problems, but changes to the schedule were not advertised, and several visitors complained that they had arrived hoping to see a particular artist only to find that that artist had already played.
And, on the subject of visitors, probably the biggest issue that the festival organisers will have to face if they want to repeat the event is getting the crowds in. They had enthusiastically offered a free CD to the first 1,000 people to book – the audience never exceeded 200. With its low profile and one-page website, a location that will only ever attract Londoners and the consequent danger that some of the audience might catch their favourite acts at the free concerts during the previous week rather than paying for the full-day event, the Leadenhall Market Americana Festival will have some thinking to do before next year.