Photography: James Muat-Dodd / @gethexd

Reconnect Festival

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  • Tosin Trio
  • Beija Flo
  • MC Nelson
Future Yard 30/5/21

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Today, for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, the sun is beaming hot. The black and pink colour palette of Future Yard’s garden space, where Reconnect Festival begins with an arts fair, DJs and poetry performances, is illuminated in glorious hues. It feels like a world away from the past year-and-a-half, something more joyous, brighter.

And yet, it’s hard to forget things aren’t fully normal yet. When the live music begins indoors, seated in a pair, spaced apart from others, you’re reminded that there’s something missing. The smoke, the purple lighting, the taste of a cold cider, that’s all here, but we’re not able yet to celebrate music fully together, to stand shoulder to shoulder as we sing along.

As MC NELSON hits the stage, however, you’re distracted from your surroundings quickly. The Aigburth rapper’s buoyant personality shines through in his performance and is effortlessly engaging. Nelson is an exceptional talent, marrying established musical references with a fresh perspective and style. He raps with an assurance, commanding focus from the audience.

Nelson is captivating beyond his stage presence, too. His lyrics celebrate Merseyside culture, while deftly tackling urgent topics: racism, colonialism, identity. For a festival branding itself as a celebration of Merseyside culture, he’s an excellent representative. His love for Liverpool is clear, but he continues to always envision a brighter future, the ways things could be better.

Glam-pop artist BEIJA FLO follows. Reminiscent of both Lorde and Peaches, there’s a theatricality in her art which is enchanting. Her singing is powerful, explosive, filling every corner of the room. Between songs, her humour and honesty are endearing. “We’re all in this together,” she jokes at the start of her set. The sentiment feels truer the more her performance progresses.

Beija Flo talks candidly about human topics; she discusses the body and sexuality with a personable wit. She talks about her struggles with MRKH syndrome, and quips that she’ll speak about it at every performance until there’s more awareness. The physical gap between audience and performer shrinks here; she welcomes you into her world, and she encourages you to take something from it.

The event closes with a performance from blues-rock outfit THE TOSIN TRIO. Like their predecessors, the performance is a fascinating one. Each member of the group performs their role with a devoted intricacy. Their songs are expansive, they meander and shift, but you’re invited to follow along, to lose yourself in the journey.

The performance encourages us to pause and think closely about our surroundings. Frontman Tosin Salako (guitar, vocals) asks us to picture a new world, one not tied to finances, when the band begin their performance of Money, and the trio’s bluesy cover of The Beatles’ Come Together resonates well tonight: it’s Merseyside culture, but with a twist. The escapist feeling present here, the instruction to envision something different, is what ties tonight’s three performances together.

 

Alfie took part in Bido Lito!’s Bylines writers programme, developing young culture writers of the future.  For more information and to find out about the next intake, visit bidolito.co.uk/workshops

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