Jimmy Cliff cut off at Rise Festival


[from Virtual Festivals]

Jimmy Cliff cut off at Rise Festival

14 July 2008

The reggae star was in the middle of performing a rootsy-version of ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ when the sound was cut at around 8.35pm. The band continued to perform the track, despite no sound and jeers from the crowd, before leaving the stage.

Earlier on in the set Cliff had spoken about the war in Iraq saying: “We’re the people of the world and we don’t like it – we don’t want another Vietnam,” before the group launched into ‘Vietnam’.

He had also performed ‘The Harder They Come’, ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ and a cover of Cat Steven’s ‘Wild World’ during his set, which was shortened set due to other acts overrunning.

CSS performed a rather lacklustre set, which included ‘Music Is My Hot Hot Sex’ and ‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above’ with lead singer Lovefoxxx adorned in an all in one and a leopard-skin cape.

Dub Pistols proved popular in the afternoon sunshine as they invited Terry Hall and rapper Rodney P onstage to perform hits like ‘Cyclone’ and a version of The Specials’ ‘Gangsters’.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings drew a large crowd for a soulful set on the Rise Stage, while rising RnB star Tawiah played hits from her EP ‘In Jodi’s Bedroom’ during a very energetic set on the Underground London stage.

Two times UK beatbox champion Beardyman also performed between acts by spitting hits like Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’, The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ and a impersonation of Ken Livingstone saying: “They’ll reject you like they rejected me Boris.”

London Mayor Boris Johnston dampened the anti-racism message at this year’s event, but it remained as multi-cultural as ever with an African Village stage, Underground London stage and a dance stage that showcased different types of dance including Flamenco, African and belly dancing.

Rise Festival 2008 pictures


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlisays says:

    I cant believe the audacity and downright rudeness of the organisers of Rise cutting the sound of a LEGEND halfway through a song with no warning or explanation. I was close to tears as Jimmy and his band left the stage clearly bemused. They must have felt that the lacklustre response from the crowd was aimed at them but was in fact utter bewilderment. I wish they had stayed and we could have all kept singing and refused to let them end such a great festival in such a shabby way. Boris and Rise organisers you should be f*king ashamed of yourselves!

  2. Trueclarence says:

    I’ll second that – what suit made that call? They should be ashamed of themselves. You couldn’t let him get to the end of the song? For the sake of five minutes???!!! And yet the rubbish trance/techno was still blaring out of the fun fair. Sheer bureaucratic idiocy. You’re lucky there wasn’t a riot with people injured because of this senseless act. Otherwise a great day – I feel like apologising to Jimmy for such ignorant offence.

  3. viper84 says:

    I agree, one of the reasons that i travelled the 300 miles was to see this man, who is one of the legends of the 20th century, perform live. Only to find that the ignoramouses who were obviously more interested in going home at the end of the festival then the fact that everyone was going to leave on a natural high. I was in the middle of the crowd and the mood switched as soon as the power was cut, (in general boos and chants of discontent being the lesser signs of discontentment) then to my sheer disbelief, the organisers had the f**king cheek to put a reggae record on, as if to ‘compensate’ for their pure bad judgement and belying the fact they had f**ked up, so again as said above i would also have the urge to apologise to this true legend.

  4. Juliet says:

    The Rise organisers showed a lack of understanding regarding safety by cutting Jimmy Cliff’s set without allowing him to say good night to a very large audience. As someone who has worked for large events as a stage manager, I know how important it is both for crowd control and safety that people leave the site in good spirits.

    It was quite within the organiser’s capacity to explain and ensure Jimmy finished close to time. I am disappointment his set was cut midway through a song (his was the best performance of the day) and quite surprised a professional event would allow this to happen with a crowd that looked like over 20 thousand people watching. As well as highly unprofessional on a number of counts, this was a bad message to send to people about respecting one another.

  5. Joe says:

    I agree, Juliet. For a festival that used to be called ‘Respect’, I can’t imagine a way to treat a headline artist, who greeted the crowd with so much warmth and heart, with less dignity than that afforded to Jimmy Cliff by the behind-the-scenes organisers….

    The shutdown shouldn’t obscure the fact that the partial show we were treated to was amazing – a full on, supercharged performance, with a great backing band of great musicians, brass in full effect and deep percussion. Jimmy’s definitely one to catch if you can on tour, he’s at the peak of his powers.

    What’s the future for Rise? BoJo has already removed not only the explicit reference to anti-racism but also 2 stages from last year. The future of London’s free festie scene looks in for a rough ride…..

  6. spinedwell says:

    Hi everyone, I was stage manager for the ‘African’ stage at the Rise festival and would like to join in the debate by, of course, sharing with all music fans feeling bad that a greatly respected artist, Jimmy Cliff, had to be cut short during his set.
    Please remember, the organisers had deadlines set by environmental health, noise level limits etc. we had a curfew placed on us along with short ‘change over’ times, (15 mins between acts, on my stage!)
    Many artists have few or no crew, setting up mikes for a 7 piece African band with unusual instruments etc. it all adds up, cumulatively and can lead to an over run. I managed to run to time but had to fade one band out early on, I upset a few people by insisting we stuck to the schedule, (and bands don’t seem to care they are compromising other acts by dragging out solos as the singer introduces the band at the end of a set… )
    There is no sweet resolution other than us poor sods who are in charge being ruthless ‘sergeant majors’ on the day to ensure all acts get a fair shot at performance. I am sorry you all missed out on a fine act such as Jimmy, please support him and other artists by not downloading illegal free tracks, buy their albums and travel to see them again. I work as a backline technician and work with a few African artists… they need your support and fully appreciate sales adding to their ability to tour and produce fresh songs.

  7. Ted says:

    A bit of info from the inside. I was working backstage at Rise in a lowly capacity.

    The problem was that the police, health and safety officers and Harringey council reps all insisted that the contract (which stipulated a switch off at 8.30) be stuck to – on fear of banning future events.

    Jimmy and his people were told this repeatedly in the hour before he was due on. Despite this, they simply didn’t get their act together. They were standing around chatting and wandering off – even as they were due on stage. I think it was a major culture clash between the strict timetabling of a British event and the more relaxed Jamaican attitude.

    In the end, the people from Winfield Productions and Festival Republic who actually held the licence just weren’t prepared to risk the shit of breaking the legal contract – hence the switch off.

  8. Tom says:

    In response to the above people who worked at Rise.
    Yes I understand that there is a job to be done but there is also something called common sense and common decency. No-one would have minded the show running over by ten or twenty minutes except some petty minded “Health and Safety officers” who seem to think that health and safety is a catch all phrase that confuses risk with hazard. What conceivable problems would have arisen if the show shot over the 8.30pm time limit? And do not tell me it’s all to do with insurance liability. It all comes down to the same thing.

    I wonder if they did a risk assessment for what happens if people start getting violent owing to the sound getting cut off prematurely by some jobsworth?

    As for the Council Reps, why were they so concerned about shutting off the sound. I am fairly certain that all but the most churlish would not mind it running on a bit.

    In short. Get a life, so that the majority can enjoy themselves.

  9. Jambo says:

    It was a big let down by the organizers and council members involved not to put there necks on the line a little and keep the freedom festival spirit alive. We must in these times allow at least another half hour or so for such legendary performances. This is not a free festival if the headliner cannot finish there set.

    Other than this, there was a great vibe all day and I saw plenty of smiles and joy.


  10. George says:

    I all agree with all those of you who are highlighting the total disrespectful nature and narrow mindedness of the organisers switching Jimmy off early. He was even getting to the end of the track! 5 more minutes would have been enough to let him wrap up and hear the appreciation from the crowd. He gave a majestic powerful performance (as he always does) and was left with a very luke warm ending from a confused crowd. Jimmy and band, from all of London, we’re sorry for the stupidity of the authorities. Please come back and see us again soon.

  11. DJ Cue says:

    I was another member of the audience left in utter disbelief at such amateur handling at the Rise stage. I’ve had plenty of time to cool down now – but it still really rankles.

    Staging events of that size absolutely requires an organised, professional approach. Having been professionally involved with several such, in my book there are no circumstances whatsoever (short of a fatality onstage or some other equally unforeseen catastrophe) when it is acceptable to ‘cut off’ an act mid-song by cutting power. It would be offensive enough (to both performer AND audience) in the case of some relatively minor artist – but to see one of Jimmy Cliff’s stature treated this way on Sunday was truly inconceivable.

    Of course, the circumstances on Sunday were nothing like that.
    As far as I can see, notwithstanding the above responses from both sides, it was a case of sheer inexperience on the part of the Rise Stage’s stage manager (I’m prepared to believe Ted’s account above – response no. 7 – but that’s no kind of excuse if you’re the stage manager). Whatever led to the decision to pull the plug, it’s still a colossal breach of professional protocol, and I too sincerely hope Jimmy Cliff and his people weren’t deeply offended. A large number of his fans present – myself included – will have been aghast at such a show of disrespect.

    Although I’d otherwise enjoyed most of the afternoon at Rise, the incident left an awful taste in the mouth: if we needed yet another reminder that local government are progressively ruining public entertainment by over-regulating it, this was it.
    Needless to say, if the audience had paid for tickets, there would have been a riot. So why should it be admissable simply because it was a free concert? The attitude of both organisers and local authority are clearly more cynical and clueless than I dared fear.

    Personally, it has left me infinitely gloomier about the direction that public entertainment in this country seems heading for.

    A grave hurt has been done.
    Is anyone going to take responsibility for it?

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