Lovebox festival review

PUBLISHED: 08:58 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 17:03 31 July 2014

Saturday night at Lovebox in Victoria Park, during MIA's set

Saturday night at Lovebox in Victoria Park, during MIA's set


When the first day of a festival is also the hottest day of the year, spirits are going to be high.

Katy B performs on stage at the Lovebox music festival held in Victoria Park, Hackney, London. Katy B performs on stage at the Lovebox music festival held in Victoria Park, Hackney, London.

Though the decision to hold Lovebox on a Friday and Saturday, rather than the conventional weekend, meant Victoria Park didn’t fill up until about 7pm on the opening day, the show had already got started when the day workers arrived.

Much of that was down to Katy B, who ran through her hits on the main stage to give the early birds something to brag about.

By the time fellow chart regular Duke Dumont appeared, the festival was buzzing, the bars brimming and the cider flowing.

His set included his two huge hits, Need U and I Got You, but the performance, him DJ’ing with no other focus on the stage, would have benefited by being in a tent, or the dark, with a light show.

Offering a more relaxed alternative to headliners Chase and Status was DJ Theo Parrish, whose jazz tinged techno/house set complete with live band and dancers drew an older crowd to close the opening day, as fireworks lit up the sky above the main stage.

There was a sense of relief for the Saturday revellers, as the early-morning thunderstorms made way for another day of glorious sunshine, and performances from Breach and next-big-thing Jess Glynne set the tone for the day.

One of the highlights of the festival was, predictably, Soul ii Soul. Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler and co were the perfect accompaniment to the sunshine and took everyone at the main stage back to 1989 with hits Keep On Movin’ and Back to Life from their Grammy winning Club Classics album.

Throughout the day there was a sense of anticipation for the two big hitters. First up was Nas, who swaggered on to the stage to perform his classic debut album Illmatic, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It wasn’t really a performance of the album in full - he shrewdly missed out a few of the tracks and focused on what people wanted to hear, such as Halftime, Represent and It Ain’t Hard to Tell. He didn’t miss a beat, and neither did the crowd, many of whom matched him word for word. The rest of his set was a collection of greatest hits and his stage presence, confidence and performance was that of an old pro.

Unfotunately, MIA’s show did not go quite so smoothly. It started well, she walked on stage with 20 odd glowstick chuckers stood in front of wheels of impressive flashing lights and launched into old favourite Bucky Done Gun.

The chaotic, furious opening was brilliant and demanded the audiences attention. The problem was with the sound (which seems to be a common theme at London festivals this year). Throughout the opening songs the 39-year-old had asked for her microphone and the bass to be turned up, and seemed to be having problems hearing the track.

Then, after she invited fans onto the stage, the power went out. Allegedly the wire was kicked out by one of the lucky fans. Whatever the reason, it caused five minutes of silence and the disappearance of the headline act.

She did return briefly, and peformed Paper Planes, and everything seemed to be fixed. But at 10.30pm she told the crowd she had to go and walked off, ending a disjointed set prematurely.

As the crowds tried to digest what had happened, people filtered out, the sounds of music from the other stages and tents little consolation.

It wasn’t the best ending to a festival that had delivered up to that point, and it will, undoubtedly, be what people are talking about.

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