Held over two weekends in London’s historic Victoria Park, the All Points East festival ended on a high with a mind-blowing two-hour set from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds which saw Cave’s first UK performance with his backing band in over four years.
The festival is split over a number of stages and on Sunday fans were treated to a diverse range of acts. Main support came from Thom Yorke’s post-punk, progressive trio The Smile. Formed just over two years ago the band debuted at Glastonbury in 2021. They were certainly a must-see band which also features Radiohead bandmate, Jonny Greenwood, on bass and Tom Skinner on drums. Kicking off the set on Piano, Yorke delivered a beautiful, impassioned performance that has unmistakable hints of Radiohead, the band brings a unique sound derived from their own musical influences.
Yorke shifts effortlessly from piano to guitar and often plays both simultaneously. ‘Free in the Knowledge’ is a clear nod to Radiohead, which has born comparisons to ballads ‘True Love Waits’ and ‘Give up the Ghost’. The trio ended with ‘The Same’ a downcast number synth-filled ballad which was reminiscent to the abstract soundscapes of Radiohead’s Kid A.
Main support on Sunday came from Nottingham’s most famous post-punk/electro/spoken word duo Sleaford Mods. Fans packed out the only indoor tent ‘The North Stage’ and were treated to a sound check from the band themselves. Bounding onto the stage, vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn powered through a set that was abrasive and delivered in a minimalist style with Williamson’s East Midlands accent cutting through the crowd with expletive-filled rants about everything from unemployment to capitalism. The energetic stage presence is not dissimilar to Monday’s Shaun Ryder, with Bez-esque dancing from Fearne, the delivery is sharp and angst-filled but interspersed with dark humor between tracks. ‘Shortcomings’ was a highlight and certainly apt for the current political climate. The Mods continue their UK tour supporting The Chemical Brothers next weekend in Bristol at Forwards Festival.
The final act of this year’s All Point’s East was Australian legend Nick Cave, bringing with him his Bad Seeds and most notably the fabulous Warren Ellis. Fans flocked to the East Stage to witness an epic two-hour set that saw Cave put on the performance of his life. Cave seemed delighted to be back in London, running down a platform during the opening number ‘Get Ready for Love and straight into the arms of his adoring fans and throwing himself more than once into the crowd, and at one point leaping over the barrier and joining them in a singalong. Cave has become famous for his onstage antics and spent most of the gig when not seated at his Piano in the slower numbers, reaching out to fans and serenading them, it was a beautiful sight. The between-song fan interaction was touching, and went a little too far when one fan got a little too amorous, to which Cave dryly responded with “What are you doing woman?” “That is sexual harassment in the workplace”.
The onstage bond between Ellis and Cave is undeniable, with Cave tenderly embracing Ellis before launching into a heart-wrenching version of ‘Bright Horses’ which also features Ellis’s haunting vocals in the chorus and highlighted his unique talent as a multi-instrumentalist. ‘Red Right Hand’ is always a crowd pleaser and was delivered with vigour by backing singers, Ellis and a powerhouse of a band who raised the roof (so to speak) as the sun set over East London. The performance was an emotional affair, Cave has suffered hugely in recent years and the raw impassioned, and at times made the audience forget they were in a huge parkland, as it often felt intimate and reminiscent of a smaller venue. After a forty-year career, it is clear that Cave is one of the most dedicated and warm-hearted performers, the love for his fans shines through and every single beautiful lyric was sang with pure raw passion. From a personal point of view, it was the best gig I have ever attended, quite an end to an epic summer of music.