Lovebox is in its seventh year now and is held in Victoria Park London’s oldest public park bordering Bethnal Green, Hackney, and Bow. Lovebox is described as a festival, urban event or happening. It was certainly all three. We arrived at around 3pm and got our bearings – it’s a very large area with many different stages.
Past the myriad of food stalls was the Latin area and Kubicle area (techno and minimal) and perfectly situated under the trees for shade, the Rizla Arena which hosted the house stage. We caught a little of the Hot Chip DJ set and Derrick Carter.
Across the field was NYC Downlow. It’s a reconstructed New York city tenement block complete with taxi crashed into the roof, a broken down stage where the drag acts performed, or yelled abuse at the people and inside a dirty dark dance space hosted by Horse Meat Disco. If you don’t know Horse Meat Disco, its a London gay institution playing crazy original disco. The NYC Downlow stage featured bad drag, bad vogueing, walk-offs but wikkid disco and house. Hot, sweaty and crazy.
It was 4.30 p.m. by now and taking the main stage was Hercules and Love Affair. The doyens of the nu-disco scene – I was keen
to hear what sound they had now. Thumping house was the order fronted by three androgenous vocalists who vogued, posed and threw down a fantastic set. Hercules himself (main man Andy Butler) was resplendent in a sailor hat and no shirt – punching the air and generally horsing around while dropping the beats. Seriously impressed , it was time then to chill in the VIP for a bit – get drinks and then wander.
We checked out the Relentless Energy Drink tent – which promised trance and lasers – an assumption made from the music playing at the service station up the road where Relentless were sampling their product (which tasted like Fanta). We ventured in to this tent later in the afternoon – it was quiet – but Kath Harding was playing some pretty good techno/house.
Next up at 7.00 p.m. we got ready for Jocelyn Brown and the AllStars. This is what we paid the VIP price for. While waiting outside the tent, I saw Paloma Faith emerge. Check out Paloma’s brilliant single “New York”.Not one to waste an star encounter opportunity – I rushed over and said Hi. She’s sweet but seemed in a hurry.
While waiting we were treated to another burlesque performance by Miss Luna Rosa.
Then is was turn for Jocelyn and we took our places up front. I’ve followed Jocelyn since I first heard her voice on Cerrone’s 1980 VII album and was blown away by the soul and passion of her voice. Now, 30 years later, I finally get to hear her sing live. Rather than attempt to describe it…have a look at this and you’ll see what I mean – it’s one of her signature tunes which made me cry with joy:
She and the Allstars band busted out some of their new songs plus Nights Over Egypt and finishing up with Always There. It was such an intimate gig (around 100 people) in a tent as part of a huge festival. The gig was incredible and the energy and love for Jocelyn was huge. Worth every extra pound for the VIP tickets just for this.
So, next up was Grace Jones. From an intimate amazing gig to a huge stadium crowd within minutes of each other – Grace was 25 minutes late (as per) but turned it out with costume changes and all the hits. When she holds two cymbols abover her head and sings “I’m a walking disaster, I’m a Demolition Man” ya aint gonna question her. The scowling, prancing, hats, hula hoop and crazy ramblings are all part of the show. She managed to rock out “Love is the Drug” big time – with Roxy Music playing their same song only 24 hours earlier on the same stage. I think Grace won. For 61 years old, she’s gotta have the best legs and arse in the business though. In a word …fierce!
So that was Lovebox. It made me cry, laugh, frown, dance, eat, drink and have heaps of fun. An amazing festival day the likes of which I thought I’d never experience.