Nick Cave, Patti Smith and a Kylie Minogue appearance bring All Points East double weekend to a glorious end
It was a perfect day for a festival in east London. Under the rare summer sun amidst the Linden trees, anticipation was building for performances by two living legends in the evening. But there was plenty of great music on offer at All Points East Presents before Patti Smith and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds hit the stage.
Glaswegian Lucia hit the ground running at the smaller Jägerhaus stage. There’s an early 2000s punk sass to her music, but she impresses above all with sheer energy in songs like Melted Ice Cream. The Magic Gang won over a snoozy afternoon crowd with their politeness alone, but their music spoke for itself. Caroline and Getting Along soon had people on their feet, forgetting to conserve their energy for later. Think Vampire Weekend with their top buttons done up. Striking a very different cord, Baxter Dury certainly raised a few eyebrows with his cheeky on-stage antics (must take after his dad!), but the music held its own. A ska soundscape with a few “little tales” told over it sums up the band well, and Isabel had people both chuckling and dancing to the tight ensemble.
Patti Smith, brought a wholly different, almost higher energy to the eager crowds. Beginning by reading a section of Alan Ginsberg’s Howl, the iconic singer turned her slot on the East Stage into a musical sermon, complete with chills and entrancing tunes. She performs with an indefatigable belief and commitment in her words. People Have the Power swept up the festival goers in its call for freedom, capturing the zeitgeist as well now as during its first release. But the audience was whipped up into something bordering a frenzy during Gloria, a gospel, almost church-like experience to watch. True to form, Smith also made a couple of forays into covers, with her own rendition of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning and John Lennon’s Mind Games. People are so won over by Patti Smith, the positivity and sweetness of her third act years, that they were willing to forgo the awkwardness of the clipboard lyrics and other slip-ups on stage. Still, there is plenty of bite in her message and presence that makes it impossible to hold the cosmetic mishaps against her.
From the hopeful, almost angelic Smith, the brooding and sultry Nick Cave painted Victoria Park purple. The Australian singer-songwriter opened with an invocation to the crowd I Am Calling You. A newer piece – poetic, dark – it was a strong statement of the segué from the previous act. These hues, of course, run through the performer’s very soul, mixed with a raving diabolism and a yearning religiosity. From Her to Eternity was frenzied, haunting, as much so now as it was in the 80s, (if you remember Cave’s brief appearance in the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire). During Red Right Hand and Loverman audiences were captivated by the stories the frontman spins, with an infernal fire in his eyes.
When Kylie Minogue joined Cave on stage for Where the Wild Roses Grow, excitement reached its apogee, as the two held each other tightly for the ballad. But the quieter, more tender Into My Arms, was a high point for the concert, and it seemed as though the crowd, somehow depleted by a long day, was calling out for more of these reflective tracks. But they did not really feature as prominently as some in the audience may have wished.
Cave’s immense onstage power is in his teasing interactions with the crowd, pulling his hand away from their very fingertips, and yet inviting them to sit on the stage with him. He inspires a cult-like adoration in those who follow his music, but a setlist that darted through his work never allowed the expectant fans to fully give themselves over to the headliner.
Photo: Hollie Shepherd
All Points East events ran at Victoria Park from 25th May until 3rd June 2018. For further information and future events visit All Points East Festival’s website here.