Grace Jones – Hop Farm Festival, Kent, England 6.7.14

Grace Jones Hula Hoop

Words: Ralph Mexico

Fifty per cent of the reason for going to the Hop Farm Festival was Dr. John. The New Orleans maestro didn’t show “due to unforeseen circumstances” (and the Cockney knees-up bollocks-ology of Chas ‘n’ Dave was a laughable replacement).

The other half of the reason for decamping to Kent was Grace Jones. Suddenly, with the good doctor out of the equation, all of the hopes and expectations rested on the shoulders of the 66 year old grandma. Grace under pressure? Not the divine Ms. Jones…

Opening with Iggy’s glacial ‘Nightclubbing’ while perched on a rickety hoist at the rear of the stage, it was clear from the get-go that this was going to be pretty darn special. The audience should have been in a bomb shelter instead of standing in a field. Grace was dynamic, explosive – the Bomb.

The iconic model/singer/soon-to-be-author gave us one hour and twenty minutes of her life. She gave us much more than time. We owe her our lives. This was an incendiary celebration of the life of a diva, where “diva” means someone precious, beautiful and shimmering, not some skanky chav with a tattooed arse and coked-out eyes.

‘Private Life’, ‘Love Is The Drug’, ‘Demolition Man’, ‘My Jamaican Guy’ – Grace rollicked through her greatest hits while changing into a dazzling array of outfits and stalking the stage like “The Wildcat Queen From Planet Androgynous”.

As her all-star funk ‘n’ disco band struck up the intro to ‘La Vie En Rose’, Grace said “This is a French song you might know; you might have danced to it; have you kissed to it? Have you fucked to it?” She then gave a dirty, leering smile and stuck out her tongue. Not the kind of behaviour you’d expect from most 66 year old grandmas. It was strangely arousing, and arousingly strange.

Her peerless set finished with ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ and ‘Slave To The Rhythm’. For the latter she kept a hula-hoop spinning around her waist for the song’s duration – again, not the kind of behaviour you’d expect from a 66 year old grandma.

‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ was the showstopper, the song, the performance that defined the sheer magnificence of Grace. The singer herself got so lost in music that she asked to be carried on the shoulders of a security guard out to the crowd. She passed close enough to my spot that I could count her armpit hairs. The security guard was later spotted charging a fiver for people to touch his neck. There was quite a queue.

After her crowd incursion, Grace returned to the stage where she kept pointing to her ass during the chorus leading me to conclude that the song is not actually about car-parking and driving in the city. Mummy, I think the big Jamaican lady is singing about boom-boom in the bum-bum. Gulp.

There’s no show like a Grace Jones Show. There’s no star in the universe like Grace Jones. Let’s start a petition to get her to these shores as soon as possible.

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Cork music since 2010
Millroom 2,
3rd Floor,
Thompson House,
MacCurtain Street,
Cork City,
Conor O'Toole
Graham Lynch