Monday, 24 June 2013

Yoko Ono's Meltdown 2013

The annual Meltdown festival takes place on the Southbank in London every summer, between June and August, and each year is curated by one of the great and good. Previous Meltdown's have been curated by David Bowie, Morrissey, Anthony Hegarty, Ray Davies, Patti Smith, Richard Thompson and a range of other artists over the years. 2013 was the turn of Yoko Ono.

Yoko was a guest at Patti Smith's and Ornette Coleman's Meltdown festivals so it was about time she had her own festival and what a festival! She, of course, had to include political activism and brought over two members of Pussy Riot from Russia and Peter Tatchell to do a talk, she gave us the Silent Disco (DJs played music into wireless headphones for the dancers to groove along to while we looked on puzzled and guessing what songs were being played), Peaches re-created Yoko's 'Cut Piece', the John Lennon Educational Bus was there and a host of other events and performances as well as the big shows. The other morning Yoko tweeted us to join her on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at sunrise to enjoy the birds singing.

This year I attended more shows than in previous years. I saw the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band open the festival (and I treasure my Onochord), saw Siouxsie and Viv Albertine twice, saw the powerful 'Battleship Potemkin' with a soundtrack by Pet Shop Boys, Patti Smith give us an evening of words and music, and Marianne Faithfull and Boy George both did gorgeous singing and talking. Ten days and nights of art in all it's various forms, all down to Yoko.

It culminated with a show I didn't see, a live recreation of John and Yoko's 'Double Fantasy' LP with music provided by Sean Ono Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band and guest vocals from Peaches, Patrick Woolf, Lene Lovitch, Patti Smith, Boy George and Siouxsie amongst others. The encore was Yoko and Siouxsie singing 'Walking on Thin Ice'.

All I can say is wow, what a festival! It wore me out so I hope Yoko is going to have a break when she finally gets home. She was tweeting links to videos of the shows this morning so she's still being active. She also tweeted Boy George this morning to say he's looking much younger than she remembered and asked if he was in love. I really love it that Yoko can ask questions like that. She's a treasure.

Thank you, Yoko, for a great Meltdown that brought so many of my favourites to the Southbank to play. I wish I'd met you to say 'thank you' personally. I tied a wish to one of your wish trees at the Serpentine Gallery last year and it came true, for which thank you. You've raised the bar for Meltdown - that's going to be a challenge for whoever does it next year!

Thank you, Yoko!

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