Flitting through the gates of the renowned Victoria Park in East London, we eyed up the crowd. Mostly older than the usual summer festival regulars, many sported casual yet effortlessly cool attire, and even several punks could be seen weaving through the throngs. Already we could tell it would be the perfect occasion for people watching.
It was the final day of brand new All Points East’s massive six-day festival, with the previous weekend showcasing a string of successions with headline performances from LCD Soundsystem, The xx and the adored Bjork. The only show of the six to sell out way ahead of schedule, we were off to catch a headline set from the revered Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.
But first, a welcome performance from garage rockers The Black Lips on the East Stage set the tone for the day, a wonderful contrast of moody melodies with the bright, scorching sun beating down on us. The atmosphere was relaxed to say the very least; trendy parents had brought their toddlers along and several folk were snoozing in the sun.
After a fruit cider and a wickedly delicious portion of macaroni cheese, it was time to visit Patti Smith making her stand on the East Stage. Her opening, a passionate tribute reading of poet Alan Ginsberg’s ‘Footnote to Howl’ whose birthday it was that day, took us by complete surprise. The reason so was of the complete and utter silence Patti had evoked upon her hordes of fans, a silence that spread far throughout and was rare to experience at such an event. Patti’s following can seem almost ‘cult-like’ and in this moment it was evidently agreeable.
An eruption of cheers broke the eerie silence among the crowds at the finish of the poem, and a change of ambience soon followed. Patti delighted her audience with a set of powerful hits, including ‘People Have The Power’, ‘Citizen Ship’ and Midnight Oil’s cover ‘Beds are Burning’, the latter being the most memorable of the performance. Her haunting vocals, quirky stage presence and charming recites were enthralling to even the most unconverted fan.
‘It is not about the dead, it is about the living,’ Patti announced during her set, a poignant statement that was indisputably well received.
It was soon time for the much-awaited headline act, and as we elbowed our way further to the stage it became apparent that it would prove very difficult to get much closer; as expected, most of the festival had seemingly turned up. Ultimately content with our spot, we again joined in silence with the rest of the fans following Nick’s initial applauded entrance, as he launched into the melancholic ‘Jesus Alone’. A first timer watching Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the theatre of his performance was wholly mesmerising, from the entrancing hand gestures to the intense interaction with his super fans worshipping and pleading to touch him in the front row.
‘Do You Love Me?’ soon raised the tempo, prompting hand waving and chanting from the masses. Shortly after, a trio of personal favourites had emotions soaring high, including ‘Red Right Hand’ and ‘Come into My Sleep’, the latter which Nick dedicated to his ‘lovely wife Susie’. The highlight, however, had to be the heartrending ‘Into My Arms’ encouraging more singing, this time hushed and harmoniously, a real magic moment.
A surprise duet with Kylie Minogue, who last week celebrated her milestone 50th birthday, did nevertheless create the real buzz of the evening. Dazzling on stage in a glittering golden dress, Kylie’s chemistry with Nick was palpable and the pair charmed with ‘Where the wild roses grow’ which is to date, the band’s most successful worldwide single.
‘Kylie Minogue’ Nick proclaimed. ‘I should be so lucky’. The question is now, who will be taking centre stage next year?