The Apple Cart, Victoria Park, London
Monday 15 August 2011
A varied musical weekend came to a gentle close on Sunday with the first Apple Cart festival.
Comfortably below capacity, it followed better established shindig Field Day and Friday's Underage, exclusively for kids fed up with adults encroaching on their opportunities to cut loose.
Apple Cart could have been designed to wind them up: a hip, family-friendly village fete for this arty, creative side of London. A multi-disciplinary line-up was heavy on cabaret and comedy, while stalls offered real ale and farmers' market grub. Musically, it exuded a recent-retro vibe.
Highlight of the main stage was Patrick Wolf, a sort of clean-cut, studious Mark Almond, flirting easily with the crowd. His most infectious tunes came embellished with as many violin and sax flourishes as synths, while just as melodramatic was folk standard "Black Is The Colour", dedicated to Amy Winehouse.
Wolf was sandwiched between a lacklustre Magic Numbers and a solo set from Badly Drawn Boy. Damon Gough did his best to upset the apple cart by boastfully asking, "Who else has the balls to do this?" while endearing himself with his take on "Like A Virgin" and the stories behind his best-loved songs.
Later, musical comedian Tim Minchin thrilled on piano and vocals. In the cabaret tent, Chilly Gonzales held court with his own virtuoso keyboard skills, as did astonishing hula hooper Marawa. Kevin Rowland was typically idiosyncratic on the decks as he sang snatches of O'Jays and Average White Band numbers..
Headliners Saint Etienne were reminiscent of a Top Of The Pops performance, with two blokes stood behind little boxes, while singer Sarah Cracknell acted like a teacher on a charity dare in her best dress. Yet their set contained a windfall of reminders as to why we should cherish them – the warm hug of "You're In A Bad Way", the giddy romance of "Nothing Can Stop Us" and the Europop rush of "He's On The Phone".
They nodded to current musical styles, but like many attendees, gazed back yearningly to a more stylish past.
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