Lovebox Weekender, Victoria Park
Confetti, silly string, giant white balloons, people in superhero costumes, miner lights, skeleton outfits and massive inflatables are all present and correct for the extravaganza.Read more on The Flaming Lips Listen to The Flaming Lips on Spotify
The multitudes that have made their merry way to deepest, darkest Hackney are duly rewarded with mostly glorious weather on day two of the Groove Armada curated festival. Amidst the multiple stages hosting bands and djs there is also room for assorted funfair rides, kids activities and upmarket food in plentiful supply.
French Eurovision anti-hero Sebastien Tellier opens the Main Stage to an audience comprised of countrymen, diehard fans and the genuinely curious, who frankly have no idea what to expect. From a guy whose recent album is a homage to the art of copulation it was no surprise that there is an air of sexual frisson to proceedings, from the microphone lead coaxing and heavy moaning (an ex-girlfriend I'm reliably informed) during 'Sexual Sportswear', to lying on a piano playing with his hair at the climax of 'L'Amour et La Violence'. It isn't all a giant one night stand though, as the soothing 'La Ritournelle' and the pure pop genius of 'Divine' prove the man in the pink jeans can take on most musical trials and win. Showmanship, talent and a sheer refusal to play anything approaching a radio edit. What is there not to like?
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 bring a taste of Africa to London with a colourful and energetic set of summer rhythms, before Roni Size and Reprazent tear through a burst of tracks from the recently re-released seminal album 'New Forms' with a smattering of lesser known tracks and old skool drum and bass anthems thrown in for good measure. These are well received by a delirious crowd who dance along manically despite the blazing sunshine. On a slightly more chilled out note it is French singer/songwriter Soko that lights up the oh so tiny Fringe Stage to a seated audience that minutes previously were enjoying a cross between juggling and tennis that put the tent in camp. It's the delightfully ramshackle nature of her performances which has made Soko such a must see live artist and this set is no exception. One song alone sees her forgetting the words, coquettish mid-song giggling and crazy tiger like headgear. When asked by one curious audience member how many songs she had, she replies about 50 and there were a host of new songs debuted during an energetic set which sees her switch sporadically between keyboards, guitar, drums and ukalele like an excited schoolkid given the keys to the music room. 'I Think I'm Pregnant' and 'Peanut Butter' are delightfully childlike songs laced with adult humour, though a show-stopping rendition of 'I Will Never Love You More' (performed unaccompanied on ukelele) is proof of her songwriting craft. Put her on your must see list and you will not be disappointed.
After such a strong set from Soko, Goldfrapp are somewhat of a disappointment by comparison. Maybe it has something to do with starting off with a string of slower tracks which serve to showcase the singer's operatic vocal range ('Utopia'), but precious little else. It is only older tracks like 'Number 1' and 'Ooh La La' that wake up a slumbering audience, although that may well have something to do with the nubile scantily clad female dancers that make full use of the giant pole centre stage, covered in assorted coloured ribbons, complete with a pair of antlers. 'Monster Love' and 'Caravan Girl' showcase perfectly what the band are capable of, abley assisted by a host of female backing singers and an angelic looking harpist. I'll report back later on the casualty figures for those present that had been and passed the stage of youth and young manhood.
It is then left to The Flaming Lips to headline the Main Stage and their no frills setup is more than equipped to do so. Ok, so you've probably realised that's a joke, so let me paint the picture for you. Confetti, silly string, giant white balloons, people in superhero costumes, miner lights, skeleton outfits and massive inflatables are all present and correct for the extravaganza. Lead singer Wayne Coyne is the musical ringmaster throughout, whether striking a giant gong, spraying green smoke everywhere or proclaiming his distaste for all things George Bush on the politically charged 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Song'. He also takes every possible opportunity to cajole us into cheering or singing louder as we apparently aren't making enough noise.
Before launching into the bizarre sing-along anthem of 'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots' it is introduced as a song about one person really believing in another person and this clearly strikes a chord with the vast audience. 'Vein Of Stars' (dedicated to Alison Goldfrapp) is the perfect soundtrack as the sun gradually set on Victoria Park; a simple blissed out number that ends in a wave of bright green lasers. They even manage to fit in a string of fan favourites including the ever so slightly weird 'She Doesn't Use Jelly' and a well-judged closing number in the form of 'Do You Realise?', which for some unknown reason was accompanied by a video of a topless woman dancing and people wearing rabbit heads. Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed The Flaming Lips.