Live Review: The Strokes – All Points East – 25/05/2019

Saturday’s All Points East festival at London’s Victoria Park was set to be the lineup of the summer but ended up getting everyone talking for all the wrong reasons… Headlined by The Strokes who were set to perform their first UK show in over four years, the festival was a popular choice for many over bank holiday weekend. Top-notch bands such as Interpol, The Raconteurs, Johnny Marr, Temples and more were all set to play across the day but many were disappointed by the clashes. Despite the horrendous issues with the sound towards the end of the day, appalling scheduling and an amateurish app that only loaded/worked when it felt like it, there was, surprisingly, still fun to be had across the day.

Up first for me was Egyptian Blue, the only band I missed at Portsmouth Psych Fest a few weeks back and a band who I’d only heard good things about. The band opened the Ray Ban X Stage curated by Yala!, the record label of ex-Maccabees member Felix White (who was seen wandering around at various points). Egyptian Blue’s brand of harsh, but catchy post-punk with tinges of psychedelic-rock here and there was a raucous start to the day.

Temples were the second band on the West Stage, a huge marquee/tent which peculiarly smelled of pet food. The band suitably packed out the marquee and filled it with their enchanting, psychedelic wonders. I always forget just how many outstanding tracks Temples has despite overplaying their debut five years ago. Temples debuted new material in the form of new track ‘Holy Horses’ (which I misheard as ‘Roaming Horses’, shows how bad the sound quality was even that early in the day).

Although not a band I’ve been inclined to see live for one reason or another, following recent comments about how good they were on their latest tour, Fat White Family piqued my interest. Surprisingly they were a lot more palatable than expected. Reading’s Valeras performed off the back of their tour with Drenge a month ago and filled the Firestone Stage area with their anthemic, powerful alt-rock. Our Girl charm with their laid-back grunge-rock including tracks from their debut album such as ‘I Really Like It’.  A few tracks into their set, front-woman Soph Nathan said she was watching Anna Calvi on the big screens on the North Stage from the YALA! stage whilst performing.

Johnny Marr brought all the tunes for the “indie kids” along with plenty of his solo tracks as well as plenty of tracks from his previous bands/projects. Johnny Marr played latest single ‘Armatopia’, as well as 2014 single ‘Easy Money’ alongside Electronic hits such as ‘Getting Away With It’, but his set was unsurprisingly top-heavy with The Smiths tracks. ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ got the crowd going early on with ‘How Soon Is Now?’ breaking things up mid-set before finishing on ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. Catching the crowd off-guard and teasing a two second long snippet of The Smiths ‘This Charming Man’, I genuinely didn’t think he was going to play it (as with his Manchester Apollo show last November). The track was greeted by a rapturous chorus of the crowd singing along every word.

The calm before the storm… I managed to catch the first few tracks from The Raconteurs which sounded great and I’d even go as far as saying that they had the best sound of the whole day. Interpol were pretty much inaudible due to sound issues and generally being able to hear people talking louder than the music, so I won’t comment any further on their set. I’d pretty much solely gone to see Interpol and The Strokes with everyone else being a bonus, so that certainly put a dampener on the day.

If you put The Strokes on in a room two away from where you are now at a moderate volume, with the doors closed, then you could pretty much accurately recreate the sound quality for their set on Saturday evening. Just minus the initial chants of “Turn it up! Turn it up!” and eventually booing which covered the little sound you could hear even more. In the bands defence, at least it looked like it should’ve sounded good!

The band played tracks solely from their first three albums making it a set full of nostalgia-filled classics proving the timeless-ness of their music. ‘Reptilia’ was pretty much made up of the crowd singing the vocals, the guitar riffs/melodies joined by the little you could hear of the drums and bassline. Some of the crowd made the best of a bad night, but I’d never seen as many people start leaving a gig after a few tracks as I had during The Strokes set. The band finished the evening with ‘Last Nite’ with Julian Casablancas making a barely audible quip at the sound issues saying “you know the words better than me anyway”.

The night ended with 40000 people at a gig that should’ve been renamed as the worlds biggest The Strokes karaoke evening, but even that wouldn’t have done it justice.

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