Gig review: Emancipation Day Carnival, Glasgow

Glasgow Green. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow Green. Picture: John Devlin
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MARKING the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire on 1 August, 1834, the first Emancipation Day festivities in Glasgow were a philosophical way of commemorating the city’s break with its ignominious history in the slave trade within the multicultural context of the Commonwealth Games.

Emancipation Day Carnival

Glasgow Green

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The Emancipation Day Carnival played its part by celebrating music from Africa and the Caribbean.

Appropriately complementing the calypso, gospel and reggae sounds radiating from the outdoor stage throughout the afternoon, even the sun unexpectedly got in on the act, as a host of artists including the Soweto Spiritual Singers, Scots-African ensemble the Ha Orchestra and the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars performed.

Spectators weren’t always present in large numbers, nor attentive – entertaining as Canadian-Caribbean group Kobo Town proved, they were still partly upstaged by an appearance in the crowd from some Barbadian athletes.

But the mood was fantastic, especially when Calypso Rose, the “undisputed calypso queen” as she was triumphantly introduced, appeared as a replacement for late pull-out Maxi Priest. A Tobagan of distant, partly Scots heritage, playing in Glasgow looked to be special for the 74-year-old, as she led her ebullient band through joyful spirituals. As she hitched her red dress up for an impromptu bootie-shake at one point, delighting a crowd who hardly required any extra invitation to dance, it was inhibitions from which all present were emancipated.

Seen on 01.08.14