‘All Points East’ festival review

Giant robots accompany The Chemical Brothers at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)


This is All Points East’s second year, and already it has become London’s indie festival de jour, displacing Field Day which was previously held at the same venue. Securing over two weekends the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Christine And The Queens, The Strokes and Bring Me The Horizon as headliners is undeniably something of a coup, but the rest of the bill is not to be sniffed at, as you will see…….

The Chemical Brothers at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

The 6-day event ran across two weekends this year on Friday 24th, Saturday 25th, Sunday 26th May and Friday 31st May, Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June. We dipped our toe in this year and sent staff to report on the first couple of days in order to get a taster of the event.

Day one (Friday 24th May) and our reporter Michael Hundertmark is on the case regarding the big hitter acts including Little Dragon, Spiritualized, Primal Scream and The Chemical Brothers.

Steve Mason live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

After arriving early at Victoria Park, where the crowds were already pouring in and forming orderly queues at the gates, it was a pleasure to catch Steve Mason again. He has played many a festival circuit over the years and seems to be at home on the larger stages with his mellow political guitar driven set.

Since the demise of the Beta Band in the 2000’s, Steve Mason seemed to retain the status of a cult figure with releasing numerous solo album with his recently released album called ‘About the Light’.

Kate Tempest live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Next up over on the North Stage was poetry verse songwriter Kate Tempest, who will also be stopping on her next tour at Brighton Dome in the autumn. Her latest offering is a more hip-hop influenced offering and some of her lyrics also address the normally unspoken toxic relations between love and power.

Little Dragon live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Back to the East Stage and Little Dragon were about to come on with striking front woman Yukimi Nagano fretting the most colourful outfit to fit in with the days theme and the crowds who were up for a dance and rave. She waltzes around stage with glistering synth riffs with powerful persecution and a hint of folk rhymes.

Spiritualized live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Swiftly moving on the West stage and Spiritualized were mesmerising the more mature crowds with a bedazzling backdrop in the huge festival tent, with their back catalogue of their songs and not to.soon after with a summer festival fashion, the heavens opened and people sheltered under the large tent and under Victoria Parks huge Oak trees complete with their glow sticks and looking like drowned rats.

Primal Scream live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Nothing would stop the festival crowds and the rain storm was soon forgotten with Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie wearing a pink suit, winging the party mood and there was the feeling the tightly packed crowds were only here to see one act tonight. It was certainly with the success of 1991 ‘Screamadelica’ that make Bobby Gillespie’s stage performances such a huge hit.

The Chemical Brothers live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

As the rain eased, smoke filled the stage with the arrival of headliners The Chemical Brothers. Their immense stage production was a wonder to behold, complete with pink wire frame anthropoids jumping at the dancing crowds, with the sounds of ‘Go’ and ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’.

The Chemical Brothers at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

All the visuals and production was in place at Victoria Park, complete with giant robots and lasers to boot. As the evening came to a close, the rain became an afterthought as the crowds were stunned and The Chemical Brothers that still have it in them to bring a rave headline spot to a festival in London. I wonder what tomorrow has to offer……..

The crowd at Victoria Park (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Day two (Saturday 25th May) and our reporter Mark Kelly picks up the baton. After staggering into the venue which was very hot, I catch Dream Wife. I’ve been meaning to see this band for some time and they do not disappoint. They’re spiky, powerful and tuneful. Apparently they “fell in love with music after listening to The Strokes”. That’s not a bad influence to confess to, and the headliners will doubtless be pleased.

In passing we next see the Viagra Boys, who are heavier and punchier then their name may suggest. In short: they rock!!! They remind me of Hawkwind when Nik Turner was fronting them in the early – mid 1980’s.

Dancers at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Next up on the same stage are the Himalayas. They’re a bit punky with great tunes and wall of sound guitar histrionics. All being well we’ll be hearing a lot more of them in the future.

I saw Fat White Family at Kentish Town Forum ten days before this show. Between then and now, Lias has cut off the remaining long hair on the back of his head. One of the band has Ian Brady on his T-shirt. Well, we all have different ideas about who is a hero I suppose.

Even on a bright sunny day, this band will take your psyche to places it hasn’t been before. My notes tell me that there were some pretty impressive sub-gregorian harmonies. If that isn’t evidence of how one can be affected by this band, I don’t know what is!!! Baxter Dury once again guests during ‘It Tastes Good With The Money’, bringing a touch of relative sanity to proceedings.

Someone’s up for it at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Anna Calvi also has a daylight slot, but her performance is every bit as captivating and commanding as when she played the Roundhouse in February. When she’s onstage she seems to enter a state where she is completely consumed by her performance. Her shades fall off mid-song – she doesn’t notice. She wrangles her guitar to within an inch of its life, no quarter being given. I kid you not when I say that she is one of the most exciting guitarists in the live arena. If you haven’t seen her live yet then you’d better have a bloody good excuse.

We move from one guitar hero to another: Johnny Marr. Although to be fair Johnny actually was promoted to legendary status more years ago than I care to remember. Johnny’s career since the release of his solo album ‘The Messenger’ in 2013 has somewhat gone into overdrive. Two more studio albums and one live album have followed, and his trajectory still seems to be moving in an upward direction. His solo catalogue is well represented, and whilst tracks such as ‘Easy Money’ are all well and good, the songs that the crowd really go mad over are anything by The Smiths. Thankfully Morrissey’s recent fall from grace doesn’t seem to have affected fans’ love of his old band’s music, so consequently ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ (how apt), ‘How Soon Is Now’, ‘This Charming Man’ and ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ are greeted like old friends. Electronic’s ‘Get The Message’ receives a similar reception. This is a superb set which seems to come straight from Marr’s heart. He means it maaaaaaan.

Having fun at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

It may be my fevered imagination, but Courtney Barnett seems to be constantly on the road. If that is the case, she doesn’t appear to be the least bit jaded by it. Enthusiasm just flows from the stage. This is her second appearance at All Points East, and on this joint she is promoting her album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’. However, her set is a tour through the many highpoints of her catalogue, including opener ‘Avant Gardener’, from ‘A Sea of Split Peas’ (which is a compilation of two EPs released in 2012 and 2013) to her current album. Courtney and her band are an incredibly tight unit. I hope we’ll get to welcome them back to our shores soon.

Having just released their first album in eleven years ‘(Help Us Stranger)’, the appearance of The Raconteurs is very welcome indeed. The Raconteurs have no frontman, vocal duties being shared by Brendon Benson and Jack White. These two share the songwriting duties too, but like Lennon and McCartney, it’s easy to tell which song belongs primarily to whom. Onstage this band are pretty much telepathic. Their ‘feel’ for the music is palpable. Their albums are all well represented in the setlist and it seems no time at all until we get the obvious closer ‘Steady As She Goes’. This is one of those gigs where you almost feel that rock ‘n’ roll is being defined before your very eyes. I really can’t imagine many bands wanting to follow them.

The crowd at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

However, The Strokes do follow them, and they do so with the almost arrogant confidence that we have come to expect from them. They are one of the best live bands in the world, and they very clearly know it. The quality of their setlist is incontrovertible. And yet…… and yet….. What we are actually treated to is a somewhat lacklustre jog through the hits. There are no real surprises. There seems to be a visible tension between Julian Casablancas and the rest of the band. Onstage communication between the band is kept to a bare minimum. I get the impression that they’d possibly all rather be somewhere else. Despite this, the crowd lap up the crumbs that are thrown to them. I suspect that The Strokes only reconvene these days when the coffers need topping up. Their last album, ‘Comedown Machine’, was released in 2013, although they did release an EP in 2016. Do they now see themselves as a heritage band, just going out and bashing out the hits. However they see themselves, at All Points East they were simply doing a job, fulfilling a contract. The difference between The Strokes and The Raconteurs really could not have been more stark.

‘All Points East’ crowd (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

View ‘All Points East’ photos from their Facebook page below:

Day 1 – Friday 24th May

Day 2 – Saturday 25th May

Day 3 – Sunday 26th May

Day 4 – Friday 31st May

Day 5 – Saturday 1st June

Day 6 – Sunday 2nd June

Visit the official ‘All Points East’ website HERE.

Primal Scream live at ‘All Points East’ (pic Michael Hundertmark Photography)

Visit and ‘LIKE’ our ‘What’s On – from Brighton and Hove News’ Facebook page HERE.

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