Christine and the Queens light up All Points East
30 May, 2019 — By Joe Cooper
Christine and the Queens on stage in Victoria Park
FRIDAY evening at Victoria Park’s All Points East offers the tasty one-two of indie-electro heroes Hot Chip and dance legends Chemical Brothers.
The former are hard to beat for feel-good festival vibes, having cranked out consistently brilliant dance-pop tunes for more than 15 years, and their set is the perfect start to the weekend. A riotous cover of The Beastie Boys’ Sabotage sends the crowd wild.
The heavens opened just before the Chemical Brothers, but it soon stopped and revellers were drying off as Victoria Park danced in unison to a brilliant combination of lights and peerless tunes from their 20-plus-year career.
Saturday had a more indie, guitar-oriented bent, with noughties garage-rock revival legends the Strokes, Interpol and Jack White (with The Raconteurs) proving a formidable trio.
Earlier on, Parquet Courts proved there was still life in the two guitars, bass and drums formula. Songs from recent critically acclaimed album Wide Awake! were bright and punchy, with frontman Andrew Savage giving it his all.
There followed a tough choice for fans of indie music of the 1980s and 90s as former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker took to separate stages at the same time. While Marr treated fans to some of his former band’s hits, Cocker sticks to his solo work, but his set is in no way the worse for it. He’s still an outstanding frontman – charming, witty and energetic (he stage-dives at one point). While some artists can make political statements sound clunky, Cocker carries it off with aplomb as he waved (a fearful) goodbye to Theresa May with C***s Are Still Ruling The World.
The sound issues at the Strokes have now been well publicised, with All Points East even issuing an apologetic statement. From where I was standing (just behind the semi-circular barriers) the songs sounded loud enough, but frontman Julian Casablancas’ stage patter did not, even by his mumbling standards. The atmosphere, however, was on a different level to their last UK show, at British Summer Time Festival in 2015. BST does not help itself by having a “golden circle” at the front of the stage which commands a higher ticket price. As they rattle through hit after hit, beers are flung as men – mostly men, where I was standing – sang along to every word and chanted to every guitar solo in a paean to their lost youths.
Sound issues aside, the festival is well organised. Plenty of bars mean you’re never queuing for more than a couple of minutes for a drink and there’s a great selection of food.
Queues for toilet cubicles build up at peak times, but as with any festival, picking the best time to go to the loo, eat or move from one stage to another requires some forward planning.
There were no sound issues for Metronomy on Sunday evening. Consistently reliable performers at festivals, their 80s-inspired synthpop sounds fantastic on the East stage.
New material, including Wedding Bells, stand up against hits from their five albums. Penultimate song The Look is too good not to dance to, and familiar set-closer You Could Easily Have Me, from their debut album, was one for the fans.
Mirroring Friday evening, there was a downpour just before Christine and the Queens’ headline set. Luckily, it too subsides just before the French star – now styling herself simply as Chris – takes to the stage. Compared to the previous night’s headliners, Chris has the disadvantage of not having as big a back catalogue to rely on, but anyone unfamiliar with her material would be instantly bowled over by her stage presence and charisma.
There was fantastic choreography combined with tunes guaranteed to get under your skin and a subtle political message to end the weekend on a high.