Live Review
LOVEBOX FESTIVAL, VICTORIA PARK, LONDON
Lovebox Festival
Victoria Park, Shoreditch
London
16-18/07/10

Love hasn’t been cool since before I was born so it’s a curious choice of title for a festival that so obviously has its eyes on the disposable income of cool, young whoevers. The adjunct ‘box’ is stranger still, but we’re dealing here with the brainchild of Groove Armada, with whom it’s better not to ask questions but to just ‘chill’ etc. Over the last few years though, this shindig has grown from its dance roots into a versatile three-day mammoth, aimed at those Capital punters too lazy for anything outside of the M25.

This seemed to give the weekend a take-it-or-leave it vibe and in spite of efforts to broaden its musical palette, it was on familiar beats-based turf that Lovebox performed best. The line up might’ve screamed ‘adroit-mix-of-classics-and-newbies’ and given us one awesome Bryan Ferry-shaped, exclusive centrepiece, but the live acts tended to disappoint. Ellie Goulding is (surprise) the worst. By miles. ‘We’re under the sheets and you’re killing me,’ goes the chorus to one of her knock-off Eurhythmics, pointless and totally forgettable songs. Whoever she’s singing about, you’d have to sympathise with them. Mystery Jets are equally nauseating, Roxy Music (minus Eno) and Dizzee Rascal (minus integrity) are good but not great and I sadly slept through Grace Jones (blame Pizza Express’ ruinously soporific mobile stall), but I’m told she was, as usual, very good.

The highlight (actual surprise this time) is The Noisettes – a band criminally under-appreciated by virtue of one very over-played number one. They eloquently knock-out that creepy-as-fuck ‘Pure Imagination’ song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and a gifted cover of ‘Ever Fallen in Love?’. Their brand of shits-on-Winehouse new wave soul is also paired with some neat, pre-war stage décor that has all the music critics in the crowd humming ‘hm, poppy and credible’ to their patient friends. For the festival in question, it seems a perfect match – after all, it’s hard to find a vision of love more cool and contemporary than thousands of people singing ‘I’ll never forget you’ with absolutely no one in particular in mind.

By Edgar Smith

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Originally published in issue 20 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. August 2010