Citadel Festival

Roots Manuva, Leon Bridges & Human Snails at Citadel Festival 2015

On a sunny, blue-sky London day I found my way to the inaugural Citadel Festival 2015 for two reasons: to experience an uncommon live performance by veteran Londonite rapper Roots Manuva – and to hear the music of the young, up-and-coming Texan soul artist Leon Bridges.

Roots Manuva concert live at Citadel Festival 2015Leon Bridges live concert at Citadel Festival 2015

Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva came first – the casually, constantly moving rapper of substance and depth Rodney Smith, with a band of bass, drums, keys/samples/synths players and two gorgeous, soulful female back-up vocalists joining him.

He delivered some sounds from the forthcoming new album, but most tracks performed were from beloved albums of old, wonderfully recreated to sound fresh – and extra special with the living energy of a band.

By the end of the Roots Manuva set my ticket and trek out to Citadel was already well worth it.

Roots Manuva concert live at Citadel Festival 2015

Roots Manuva at Citadel Festival 2015

Watch a video here of Roots Manuva performing the ever-popular Witness (1 Hope)  [“Witness to Fitness”] at Citadel Festival:


Past Roots Manuva’s records you probably have on vinyl in your music collection already yes? You can hear his most recent release “Facety 2:11” here and wait like me for the new album coming later this year.


Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges was up next- and while his band sound-checked, dressed in finely-pressed identical satin vests, ties, jackets and cowboy hats, I found myself asking someone next to me if I was at the right stage. Turns out I was, then reminding myself to ignore my conditioned preconceptions about what a 2015 soul band will probably look like.

When the show started and the seemingly-humble Leon Bridges fronted the band on stage, proceeding to showcase the beautifully-soulful songs from his debut album Coming Home so reminiscent of the glorious sounds of old, a joyful smile appeared on my face and my body was moved into action.

Leon Bridges live concert at Citadel Festival 2015

Leon Bridges at Citadel Festival 2015

Throughout the rest of their all-too-short set I couldn’t help but look around me and confusedly wonder Why of Why? I was in the wonderfully multi-cultural melting pot of London hearing the musical goodness I was, surrounded by festival folks of the mostly Anglo-Saxon kind, most of them standing still.

Leon Bridges’ much-hyped debut album Coming Home was released digitally in June. It’s all goodness and then some – and like always, I’m waiting patiently till it’s released in hard copy.

You can check out a video here of one of the tracks from that album, “River”, performed by Leon Bridges solo at Citadel Festival 2015.


More of Citadel Festival?

Did I find much more than Roots Manuva and Leon Bridges at Citadel Festival 2015? Umm, not really. In fairness to the festival, there were lots of musical and non-musical things going on around the Victoria Park site.

Citadel Festival 2015

But as appealing as the tequila bar, blind-folded human snail races and hula hooping looked,  I just wasn’t up for dealing with the dust, the crowds and the long lines for (sold-out) food and drinks.

Citadel Festival 2015

More importantly the other acts on the bill just weren’t up my personal musical alley – and with the Roots Manuva and Leon Bridges shows done and dusted, I had already achieved what I went to the festival for, and was well and truly satisfied.

I did allow myself the added musical bonus of catching Seun Kuti carrying on the AfroBeat tradition in his usual energetic, gyrating form alongside the stunning musicianship of dearly-departed Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 concert - Citadel Festival 2015

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Citadel Festival 2015


Thanks to Citadel Festival 2015 for the live Roots Manuva, Leon Bridges and Seun Kuti experiences 🙂 .

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