Photo: Denis O'Regan / Strummerville
Its easy to see how a festival would emerge through a legendary spokesperson who represented the generation x and a lost youth that spanned generations. The Clash frontman, as iconic as he was to many, showed how guitars could be used as artistic weaponry interfaced through the pulsating heart of rock'n'roll. This year, in his honour, Joe Strummer's family have created an event to bring everyone together in a beautiful haven of varied music in an eye pleasing backdrop of the Somerset countryside.
The site itself is just the right size comprising of stages, stalls, healing fields among many other nice little touches dotted around. The Bonfire stage, once a place that was a backstage spectacle at Glastonbury, has now had its story telling, music and general magic transported to the Strummer Of Love site. Surrounded by couches with a stage to the right, the atmosphere is incandescently friendly and makes you feel the true spirit of what a festival should be.
Justice Tonight are, as bands go, not really a band as such but an outfit formed to create awareness and benefit 'dont buy The Sun campaigns' and of course the Hillsborough 96. With the Hillsborough report about to be published, there is a quite fitting they are gaining more press attention. This is a band where there is more passion than plans, more movement than marketing, and an overall uncertainty which probably what makes it so fresh and exciting to watch. Justice Tonight are back playing fulls sets once again, after the short sets they have been playing on the recent Stone Roses European tour. As might be imagined, a large part of the set list is dominated by Clash songs, which makes sense when you see the power and effect it has on the crowd. 'Stay Free' is included in the set as well as 'Groovy Train' which receives a familiar response. The highlight comes when the entire audience truly comes to life, even Keith Allen as guest vocalist is quite an amusing if slightly confusing spectacle.
'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' is truly amazing and even The Farms 'Altogether Now' which is brought out for the encore, brings a warm loved up 'Come Together' feeling, scouse accents can be heard almost deafeningly along to the song. They could not have picked a better band to close the festival, if there was any way they wanted to outline what Joe Strummer actually stood for, using the the medium of Strummer Of Love Festival and Justice Tonight could not have done any better. With the shameless corporatism and branding of the likes of V festival, its refreshing to see Strummer Of Love has actually moved away from this and has primarily focused on a celebration and a spirit of something which means something a lot deeper than a branded Orange phone charging tent. RIP Joe Strummer.