I managed to work out this was my twenty fifth carnival. I’m not going to tell you how many I’ve missed because that’d reveal my age, but anyway, the point is I’m a bit of an avid carnivalite. 2012 was a good vintage in so much as the key things were all in place – a bit of summer sunshine, a good mix of people, lots of rum and enough bass to turn your intestines outside out. So, without being exhaustive (because lets be honest here, I can’t actually remember enough about it – another key indicator of a good carnival) here's a brief round up of the Notting Hill Carnival 2012:
Jah Observer is dead, long live Sound Solution
Jah Observer had held their own at Carnival since 1979, but last year the husband and wife duo behind the sound system had decided enough was enough and upped sticks to live in Jamaica. They passed on their legacy to Sound Solution, who were granted the same spot (and it even looked like they were based out of the back of the same van) with the blessing and support of Jah Observer. Over the years Jah Observer had built up a loyal support and there was an element of skepticism as to wether the Sound Solution vibe and music would stand up to the history of their predecessors. In the end, they did, and dropping Black Roses by Barrington Levy late on Monday afternoon was a storming end to a successful debut. This was only marred by the man on the mic insisting on an impromptu singalong once the sound had been cut, to which he was greeted to a stony wall of silence. Apart from that, excellent.
Red Bull x Major Lazer
On my way in to the area, I heard someone shout that this wasn’t Kingston Jamaica, this was Sandals, Jamaica. It’s a weird feeling, exiting the free for all of Notting Hill’s streets to enter an enclosed, controlled environment. It was amusing to see a hyper energized Rodigan leaping about the stage whilst playing General Levy’s Wicked, very generous of Reb Bull to put on such a well stocked free bar, but after a few strong rums the feeling of claustrophobia creeped in slightly, and the slightly less controlled wildness of the streets began calling again.
Threw a strop last year and refused to bring his sound system to the party, supposedly due to the fact that the Carnival organizers wouldn’t let him have the exclusive right to sell beer and food in the area around the Good Times bus. Not entirely sure if that’s true, but it’s the rumour knocking around. If it’s true, he’s a tight arse. Anyway, the MBE himself was back this year, and it was nice to have him back if truth be told. Before he gets into awful funky house territory about half way through the day, he actually still plays a good mix of music -early on the Sunday I heard some Miles Davis, perennial classic Everybody Loves the Sunshine and a smidgen of solid eighties boogie. Just when you think you’re in for a good time, he drops Handbags and the Gladrags and you run for the hills screaming. That’s Norman for you.
All in all, it was another good year – the police were marginally more friendly than the last couple of years, the atmosphere seemed to be riding the residues of olympic fever and the whole event passed off without too much trouble.