East London gets Chemical, as Kraftwerk and co bring electricity to the park

If the British Summer Time concerts in Hyde Park are the home of rock royalty and top-end ticket prices, All Points East, in Hackney’s Victoria Park, is its more affordable cousin. With the price of entry levied at around £70 per day, APE’s headliners – on this first weekend of two, Gorillaz and The Chemical Brothers – likely earn six rather than seven figures for their night’s work, while the audience are at the more youthful end of the concert-going demographic. Even the installation of a VIP area at the front of the stage couldn’t diminish the air of conviviality.

It was a broad-minded affair, too. On Friday, 15 minutes after Idles concluded an atonal hour of punk thump on the second stage, Gorillaz’ melting-pot of disco, pop and hip hop ignited an audience that had brought its dancing shoes. “This is the most local gig to where I was born,” announced singer Damon Albarn, a man whose restless creative ear might just make him the heir apparent to David Bowie. As the park slipped into darkness, a bevy of onstage guests including rapper Mos Def, Paul Simonon, Shaun Ryder and De La Soul brought energy and finesse to a set that featured hit songs such as Plastic Beach, Dirty Harry and Clint Eastwood.

Known as Field Day, Saturday’s 10 hours of dance music and electronica likely constituted the busiest shift of the year for the festival’s on-site sniffer dogs. As if this weren’t enough, the audience at Kraftwerk’s 70-minute set were adorned in 3D glasses, so as to enjoy the hypnotic display of numbers, words and UFOs that lunged from the screen behind the German group. Images of models partnered The Model; footage of an autobahn accompanied Autobahn. Seeing the words Chernobyl and Sellafield during the deeply unsettling Radioactivity was like watching and hearing a song written by JG Ballard and a speak-your-weight machine.

Kraftwerk were the band of the weekend. Immeasurably influential, strange and compelling, the sight of 76-year-old founding member Ralf Hütter taking a bow was an oddly moving end to their evening. None of the many acts on Saturday’s bill would exist without him. Like The Beatles, Black Sabbath and Ramones, his group shifted the tectonic plates on which music is built.


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