Lovebox Festival, Victoria Park, London
In its tenth year, the increasingly successful (and therefore increasingly corporate) Lovebox festival seems to be trying hard to prove its hipster credentials by involving local Hackney-based talent.
Patrick Wolf, a musician fond of electronic music, ukuleles and sampling, tells us he wrote one of his songs in “a cafe down the road, near Hackney Wick”, there’s a “Dalston Superstore” tent, after the Dalston bar of the same name and The Hackney Colliery Band, a nine-piece brass band who’ve received plugs from Radio One DJs. Yet Lovebox began in Clapham Common, and abandoned its roots in 2005, when it decamped to Victoria Park. At 10 years old it should forget about trying to seem edgy; what it does well is pull in big names.
Soul legend Grace Jones displayed her flexibility (physically and vocally) as she dry-humped the stage wearing a Lion King-inspired grass mane and matching tasselled, sand-coloured coat, while belting out “My Jamaican Guy”. Two other soul divas also made a huge impact. Chaka Khan, in tight-fitting denim jumpsuit, mixed spiritual instruction with singing, declaring: “Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads out there, it’s your presence, not presents, that matter, just be there for that child!” before launching into a bizarre, bold rendition of “I’m Every Woman”. Candi Staton made an unexpected appearance during festival founders Groove Armada’s set on Saturday. Her emotive original version of “You Got the Love” was brought up to date with Groove Armada’s funky back-beats.
Friendly Fires’ pop single “Paris” was a deliriously uplifting moment, featuring lots of cymbals, drumming and cowbells, with lead singer, Ed Macfarlane, wiggling crazily across the stage. Hot Chip proved they could hold their own as headliners on Friday night, with a big electro-pop sound fused with heavy synths. The clear, bright vocals and catchy beat on “Over and Over” also inspired some maverick dance moves in the crowd.
One tweet rather harshly described Lana del Rey’s performance as, “like watching a hanging”, but it did capture the sombre tone. She opted for backing of a baby grand and lots of violins, where a DJ and some remixing might have suited the festival setting. Despite grey skies, Maverick Sabre and Emeli Sande both brought a feeling of summer. Sabre’s “I need” made a perfect festival sing-along tune, along with Sande’s cover of Bob Marley’s "One Love/People Get Ready" which, backed with warped electric guitars, brought with it a glimmer of sunshine and a strong smell of weed.
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