Event Review: Tropical Pressure 2019 @ Mount Pleasant Eco Park (Porthtowan; Friday 12th July to Sunday 14 July 2019)

TP #3

To bring the Tropics to Cornwall is as complicated as it sounds, but it’s also extremely gratifying. That’s why Tropical Pressure Festival has become a music lover’s dream (whether they are project workers, volunteers, musicians or festival-goers), and that’s how, every July since 2014, the idyllic Mount Pleasant Eco Park experiences a colourful, cultural pilgrimage.

For three days, Porthtowan’s surroundings breathe music from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean islands, and for three days, every single festival attendee has her/his mind enriched by sounds, dances, workshops, food and drinks from all over the world…

For the first time since 2014, we embarked on the 250-mile journey that separates London from the North Cornwall Heritage Coast, and we couldn’t possibly have made a better choice. Tropical Pressure has indeed brought a corner of the Tropics to the UK… Or better, three corners, because, as described, each day of the event is dedicated to a particular Tropical region.

Friday

It all got underway on the scenic stage of the Amphitheatre. After relishing the postcard-like panorama (including white horses grazing, reeds moving in the wind, granite cliffs, a sandy beach and turquoise sea in the distance), Argentina took the scene, thanks to the eclectic set presented by the folktronic “one-man orchestra” from Buenos Aires, Rumbo Tumba and his refined musical craftsmanship. Minutes later, from Barcelona but with assorted passports, Miramundo continued the heart-warming feelings, spreading their uplifting and eclectic sound built on busking and countless live shows all over the world. Originally a five-piece band, they were forced to visit Tropical Pressure in a shrunk formation due to visa issues, but were still able to enlighten the Cornish afternoon and the main stage audience with their very own blend of quality songwriting and energetic folk-pop, boasting elements of samba, Italian canzonetta, flamenco, swing and Latin character.

Then it was the turn of Penya to present another take on Latin American music. The London-based quartet brought to Tropical Pressure its Afro-Latin, percussion-driven electro sound, which inaugurated the dancy stretch of the evening and spurred the audience to gather under the stage and move to the rhythms. That was the perfect introduction to the cumbieros from Malphino Republic, who sped up the tempo, performing a bright and up-tempo set in true Malphino style, infusing the Latin traditional sound with East London style.

Dropping the curtain on the first day of the main stage were the exuberant salseros of La-33. Directly from Bogotà in Colombia, the larger-than-life band presented some excellent dance-inducing urban salsa, enriched with boogaloo, funk, jazz and pop, and naturally exposing the talent of each band member on stage. You couldn’t help but move your feet, legs, knees, hips, back and so on… also, despite the fact that the daily live-music programme had come to an end for the Friday, upbeat notes were still being pushed out of the speakers of the Late Night Venues where DJs like Nickodemus and Konquerin Soundz kept the audience busy and dancing until late into the night.

Saturday

The sun sure shone on Saturday on the scenic and serene settings of the Cornish coast, and a full day of festive fun was presented by Tropical Pressure.

Miramundo took the spotlight again from the Amphitheatre, bringing their eclectic and romantic mix of folk and funk with songs in Italian, Spanish, Brazilian and most likely more! The four-part harmonies melted the audience, alongside the heat from the beautiful tones emanating from the electro-acoustic guitar and violin. The band were perfect performers, quite literally immersing themselves in the audience, to great cheer and applause.

A highlight from the main stage had to be the Sudanese band The Scorpios, whose front lady perhaps literally brought the return of the sunshine with her stunningly bright yellow sari. The band brought their unique reggae-funk grooves mixed with the traditional girls’ songs and celebratory folk songs sung in communities in Sudan. The mixture of Middle Eastern maqam scales with offbeat reggae and characteristic claps brought together what felt like the entire attendance of the festival to one peaceful place. Warm energy from the band ensured everyone was dancing, smiling, and a large number of people were attempting to sing along to the catchy vocal lines.

The sunset on the stunning scenes, slipping over the mountainside down onto a shimmering secluded beach, whilst Kongo Dia NTotila did what they do best and blasted the amazing audience with their characteristic maestro Kongo jazz. With intricate and perfected compositions, the London-based band blow expectations out of the water with every performance.

The evening was a treasure chest of DJs, with live sampler and composer Anchorsong wowing the crowds as he dabbled live with his gadgets. Building and composing each song from nothing, every note and beat trigged by a button, his fingers seemed to race over imaginary pianos. Whilst Pete On The Corner delivered exactly what the party festival-goers where waiting for: bass-heavy beats from all corners of the globe and strange, unique and certainly surprising sounds causing the room to bounce in sheer happiness to the anticipated drops – faces of sheer awe and love were seen at each new ‘exclusive’ drop from the label owner.

The longest DJ set of all was savoured with tropical traveller Edna Martinez, who managed a whole two hours of the most beautiful, tropical, Afro-disco and Caribbean grooves. Word spread, and soon everyone was dancing and shaking all their limbs in the large warehouse-like venue, ‘Fandangos’.

Saturday was characterised with a bright and sunny happiness, sound-tracked by the best global music of variety and excellent taste.

Sunday

Glasgow five-piece Samson Sounds picked up the energy on Sunday afternoon with their infectious brand of Afro-dub. Sending ripples through the ground with fat electronic beats, they got the crowd back on their feet again with huge horn riffs and intricate Afro-style guitar lines. As they MC’ed their self-titled ‘patois mixed with the Glasgow chatter’, they churned out feisty lyrics about their inner-city take on global life. The crowd responded with energy, and the rhythmical lyricism and pounding bass had the right amount of power to revive the lethargic body. 

Closing out the festival on Sunday night were two bands: The Bongo Hop and Lindigo. The Bongo Hop brought their Afro-Caribbean sound with Latin flavours, led by French trumpeter Etienne Sevet, and with graceful harmonies, they quickly charmed the audience into a swinging trance. Lindigo then played a big finale on the main stage, opening with an instantly emotive vocal performance. Even for those not able to understand the lyrics, the feelings instantly transferred. Incorporating Maloya’s folk instruments with Madagascan musical styles, they played an unusual blend of African and Caribbean styles that suitably rounded up the ethos of the festival.

Events By These Artists

Date Event name Artist City/Town Venue
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