A great day of music on the first day of the Lovebox weekender. So why the three stars? Sly Stone had it sussed. “You guys have a curfew, right?”
Indeed we did – and a frankly shameful set of events saw the The Bees playing for just half an hour to a disappointed Clash tent. What was so confusing about the curfew was that they exited stage left at 9.30, to be replaced by a circus.
Apt, but frustrating – though they performed manfully to ensure the brief period of performance they enjoyed was high octane festival fare. Chicken Payback, of course – but a tender Listening Man and a rollicking The Russian were also crowd pleasers.
Organisational problems were evident at the other end of the day also, and the Super Furry Animals had to remove four songs from their set in order to finish on time. Gruff Rhys was pretty cheery about it all. Hello Sunshine became a different piece of weather altogether. “Hello Rain!” he sang, as the heavens briefly opened. Still, this set was ideal for the Furries to play the promising upcoming single Show Your Hand. Healthy madness ensued, with Rhys noisily tucking into a bag of crisps in Receptacle for the Respectable, and donning an alien mask for The Man Don’t Give A Fuck.
Mid afternoon gave the punters a chance to check out the many fringe benefits of this warm hearted festival – a charming and amusing insect circus, the Horsemeat disco, where grown women were queuing up just to be seen with a moustache, the Rizla Invisible Players enclosure, where Andy Votel and Pete Fowler held court in the afternoon with characteristically off the wall music, and two packed dance enclosures, where the likes of Freeform Five and Funk D’Void kept feet moving.
Junior Boys brought the sunshine with them, packed alongside their Depeche Mode and Blondie records. Yet for their obvious wearing of influences, the three piece have an assured presentation, with crisp dance rhythms and rousing synth riffs that combine with Jeremy Greenspan‘s vocals to good effect.
Cut from similar cloth were the Presets, whose upfront rhythms took over the main stage for an hour. Frequent checks were needed to confirm there were just two people on stage, with Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes using programmed material but securing an energetic, adrenalin packed sound.
And so to Blondie, Debbie Harry looking fantastic in a black and white wavy dress, topped off with black and white shades. Call Me was a full bodied opener, while Union City Blues confirmed the voice may be a bit lower these days, but retains its individual timbre.
Sly Stone, on the other hand, isn’t such a well man – but made sure that his band gave the main stage a good going over. Dance To The Music was tight and irresistibly funky, a sign of things to come. The man himself arrived half way into the set to a rapturous reception, but announced only ten minutes later “I’m off for a piss. See you in a sec”. We wondered if he would return, but the second part of the gig was wonderfully affirming as he got into the groove. Sadly it wasn’t quite long enough – but to say you’d seen a soul legend, even if he wasn’t quite on all cylinders, was perhaps the biggest talking point of day one.