Monday, 20 July 2009

Things to do in Mile End when you're wet

Living so close to Victoria Park is great, although my visits there are mainly restricted to when it's warm and sunny. But there are occasions that mean I have no problem standing in the middle of the park in the rain. Two such occasions came this weekend. Madstock on Friday and Lovebox on Saturday.

Taking to the stage before Madness on the Friday were The Pogues. Shane MacGowen was happy to show off his shiny new teeth, although he seemed to have traded in his eye for them. I'm still trying to work in an 'eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth' joke in here.

It might be heresy to some, but don't all of The Pogues' songs sound the same? But it was ok, because Mr MacGowen was ready with the witty quips in between songs. God knows what language they were in though.

Then it was the turn of the hosts. Suggs took the stage in a shiny houndstooth check suit and bowler hat. The set was a mix of the (amazing) classics and (also very good) songs from the new album (which I admit I'm actually still to listen to).

The crowd was also quite amusing to watch. We had 'gold circle' tickets, which meant we were in the bit right in font of the stage, with the proles fenced off further back. We were surrounded by a lot of quite large, original skinheads. Obviously, looks were very deceiving. There was a lot of dancing but it was all very civilised with everyone keeping themselves to themselves and just thoroughly enjoying the show.

And then on to Saturday and a much younger, rowdier crowd at Lovebox. After lapping up what sun there was in the afternoon and a few pints of cider we headed over to the main stage to catch Florence and the Machine. I've met The Machine's drummer. His name is Chris and you can consider his name officially dropped. I'd watched coverage of their Glasto performance and this one was just as good.

After Florence, it was time for one of the two bands I'd really looking forward to – N*E*R*D. I'd wanted to see them on their last your but, at £35 a ticket, I opted to give it a miss. Unfortunately, things didn't start off too well. First, Pharrell's microphone wasn't anything like loud enough. Then, when the sound had been sorted, they proceeded to cram all the best songs, bar the singles, from their first, and by far their best, album into a ten-minute medley. I was not impressed.

They pulled it back though with sheer comedy value. During their last few songs they invited a load of people from the audience onto the stage. The invaders were then herded off for a few minutes before the female portion was aloud back on during Lap Dance. Those girls already on stage were soon joined by more from the crowd till it was practically overflowing for ladies, largely trying to get the attention of the band members. And they all went off backstage together at the end of the set.

If I was excited about N*E*R*D, I was was stupidly excited about seeing Duran Duran. As with Madness the night before, their set was a mixture of classics and new stuff although, in this case, the new stuff provided perfect opportunities to go to the toilet and the bar. Yes, both the toilet and the bar – it really wasn't that crowded.

The main body of the set ended with Ordinary World, providing a massive singalong from the crowd. I'd heard that Mark Ronson would be joining Duran Duran on stage and feared the worst. But my fears weren't realised as they kicked off the encore with a Bond theme medley before launching into A View To A Kill. Ronson just played guitar. He didn't even play the trumpet. In fact, it wasn't exactly clear what he was adding to the performance. Never mind.

All in all, it was two great days of music. Ok, it might have rained a bit but i haven't been to a festival in the sun for literally years, so it'd have to take more than that to dampen (sorry) the mood.

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