Live Music + Gig Reviews

Lovebox 2008, Day 2 @ Victoria Park, London

20 July 2008

Lightspeed Champion’s withdrawal from day two of the Lovebox Weekender caused a few initial timetable ructions, which were fine for everybody save those who wanted to see Sebastien Tellier, pushed up to warm the cockles of the early risers.

Happily there were none of day one’s organisational problems, while the curfew that blighted some of last year’s acts was once again well in hand.

The chansonnier rose to the occasion, positioned rather appropriately between a large pair of women’s legs onstage and clad in his own ‘sexual sportswear’ of pink trousers and a black tracksuit top. There he dispensed numbers from most recent record Sexuality to a receptive audience, the light electro disco rhythms finding more than a tapping foot as they gazed reverently towards the 1980s.

As the sun eventually won its battle to shine it was time for a history lesson. The history of drum and bass, no less, with Roni Size and Reprazent mashing up a medley of 1990s favourites. Their own material received greater coverage, with good-natured energy beaming down from vocalists MC Dynamite and Onallee. Size, happy to do his thing modestly in the background, is on the verge of a new Reprazent album – and his group clearly retain the passion for their craft.

The main stage was the place to be – and Goldfrapp stepped up to the mark with an extremely well-structured set. The first of the bands to really put some thought into the choreography of their performance, they arrived wearing white, save for Alison, whose dress dangled brightly coloured streamers in the manner of the tree at the back of the stage. Indeed at times the stage resembled something of a Druid festival, as the band concentrated on blissful numbers from Seventh Tree.

Songs such as Happiness dispensed good feeling and a windswept contentment, the set held together through the minimum of chat from the vocalist. A female voice choir added pure backing vocals, while scantily clad dancers wore wolves’ heads and writhed around to the throbbing bass of Train, before the heavy footfall of Ooh La La and Strict Machine confirmed the band’s potential to thrill when fully plugged in.

The Flaming Lips, of course, are no strangers to the idea of a prop or two, and legions of superheroes flanked a mesmerising main stage performance. From the moment Wayne Coyne took to the crowd in his space bubble, Lovebox immortality was assured – and he capitalised with an increasingly hyped audience going wild for Free Radicals, with YouTube clips of Japanese TV adding to the chaotic events unfolding on the big screen behind.

If anybody took his advice to run around naked, they did it quickly – there was quite a breeze by this point! – but plenty more took up the invitation to sing lustily to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1, the accompaniment reduced to twinkling keyboard alone.

In an instant the Weekender’s motto – ‘putting the heart and soul back into festivals’ – was vividly appropriate, with this and every Flaming Lips gig in effect a giant party. They ensured everyone left with a warm glow to counter the chilly wind.

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