Apple Cart Festival, Victoria Park, London

The Apple Cart Festival was a welcome respite from a bleak week

If I made it up, it would be corny: a hackneyed attempt to crowbar some meteorology-based pathetic fallacy into my review. But, the moment that The Magic Numbers take to the stage at the Apple Cart Festival, the torrential downpour genuinely ceases and the sun comes out.

With every passing year, proclaiming love for this band feels more like a faith to be maintained in the face of indifference, and the general perception that the Gannons and Stodarts are "so 2005". If heart-melting, emotionally restorative melodic pop-rock is an anachronism, then just call me H G Wells. The rain recommences the moment they leave, prompting quick-thinking Guilty Pleasures DJ Sean Rowley to play "Gimme Shelter" as the entire festival runs for the trees and the tents. I see what he did there.

Apple Cart is a newcomer to an already crowded calendar, and at first glance it's difficult to discern exactly what it's about, other than an excuse to fill unused capacity: the marquees and fences are already up, so something has to be done with them. Roughly speaking, if Underage Festival, held in Victoria Park on the Friday, is for the tweenagers, and Saturday's Field Day is for the students, then Apple Cart – "a new London festival for music, comedy, art, cabaret and magic" which "aims to create a kaleidoscopic, colourful playground for adults and kids alike" – is a Sunday stroll for the mums and dads, who can leave the toddlers at the sandpit while they watch some indie folk. Hardly a unique selling point, in the Bestival and Latitude era, but at least you can do this one without the horrors of camping. Which, in today's monsoon weather, is an incalculable bonus.

It's all a little self-congratulatingly bourgeois, as though a little bit of Crouch End has been scooped up and plonked down in the East End. The hog roast-heavy food court is full of chalked-up signs reassuring us that all the flaming flesh comes from beasts which were hand reared on organic meadows. It feels like Borough Market with music programmed by the Heavenly Social.

Which is, as it happens, not necessarily a bad thing. I'd say Patrick Wolf was a revelation, were it not for the fact that I've watched him countless times and I'd be more surprised if he didn't single-handedly put all other singer-songwriters to shame. The outlandishly talented androgyne, hooded and caped, steps out in measured, monastic paces, blowing something that looks like a fusion of a hand-held church organ and a weapon out of Flash Gordon. He whips off the cowl to reveal a splendid suit as scarlet as the dye in his hair, which runs in red rivulets of perspiration down his cheeks in a set which runs from the folk-pop of his early material through to the pansexual Springsteen of his current Lupercalia album, culminating in the storming "This City", which inexplicably didn't become an enormous hit. There's a touching moment when he dedicates "Black is the Colour" for his friend Amy Winehouse and a butterly, a red admiral, dances around his head. For the second time today, I wonder if nature is trying to write my column for me.

There's an uncomfortable stand-off when Chilly demands an apology from a stage manager who has cut him short by signalling for a beret-wearing Brummie to play a CD. Gonzales might not have been so dismissive of "the next musician ... I mean DJ" had he realised that the DJ concerned was a living legend.

Kevin Rowland is, to the delight of Dexys fans, working on a new album with a team of former Midnight Runners (including Mick Talbot and Pete Williams). While we're waiting for that, his occasional DJ sets are a thing of absolute beauty. Spinning soul and disco classics, from Chairmen of the Board to Odyssey, he frequently grabs a microphone, steps out from behind the decks and croons his own handsome a capella codas to tracks such as AWB "Let's Go Round Again" and The O-Jays' "Love Train". At the end, the whole tent is chanting the "Jackie Wilson Said" refrain in tribute.

Soul II Soul's set is heralded by the unmistakable silhouette of Jazzie B behind the console. He once chased me down an alleyway for urinating on his back door, so I make a swift exit in case he recognises me.

Saint Etienne, arguably the most "London" band alive, are the perfect headliners. Reunited with former Dolly Mixture Debsy, whose rich tones dovetail exquisitely with Sarah Cracknell's higher register on "Who Do You Think You Are", they deliver a hits set which showcases their magpie-like, retro-futurist aesthetic. There's something about watching aeroplane lights rising against a darkening indigo sky to the sound of elegiac Europop which elevates the soul.

Like any good festival, the day has been an oasis from external reality. Over at the far corner of Victoria Park, Hackney is burning. But nothing upsets the Apple Cart.

Next Week:

Simon investigates Stetsoned, arena-filling phenomenon Brad Paisley

Rock Choice

Green Man Festival, the much-loved indie-folk gathering on the Welsh borders, this year welcomes Fleet Foxes, James Blake and Villagers to the hillsides of the Glanusk Park Estate, Powys, (Fri to Sun). Meanwhile, Death In Vegas, back after a seven-year break and with a new album imminent, play a warm-up for their December UK tour at The Wedgwood Rooms, Portsmouth (Thu).

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?