Lovebox 2012 review
'Lovebox is the gift to London that keeps on giving'
Howard Jones - 18 June 2012
When Groove Armada hatched a plan ten years ago
to stage a dance festival as a gift to the people of London, who could have predicted that Lovebox would grow into one of
the UK’s best dance festivals.
Friday reads like a who’s who of British dubstep on the Big Top stage as MS Dynamite (7/10) starts an early evening rave getting the crowd to jump to her infectious brand of dance with the dirtiness of 'Wile Out' being a mantra for the weekend ahead, with Skream, Zinc and Magnetic Man all following later.
2 Bears (8/10) get a good early evening crowd as Joe Goddard from Hot Chip gives his side project a good airing. 'Gabriel' drops to a massive reaction but nothing quite brings out animal behaviour like 'Bear Hug' as twenty people invade the stage. With his most grizzly voice, Raf Rundell pleads with the crowd to move off stage, cutting the music off until they eventually comply.
Euro 2012 and the England match make it tough going for Crystal Castles (7/10) as the main stage suffers from a meagre crowd, but the duo still produce the goods before Friday headliners Hot Chip (9/10) make their first ever headline appearance at a festival. The band rise to the occasion brilliantly, rattling through their electro pop gems with new albums songs sounding great alongside the infectious classics of 'Over and Over' and 'Ready for the Floor'.
Bleary eyed and legs sore, Little Dragon (6.5/10) ease revellers into Saturday with their mellow form of electronic indie. Frontwoman Yukumi Nagano is her usual bundle of energy, with the main stage crowd warming to the Swedish outfit. However, it is nothing like the Outdoor stage’s reaction to Rita Ora (7/10) who looks like a readymade popstar and now has the hits to match with 'Hot Right Now' and 'R.I.P' getting the kids on each other’s shoulders.
In true diva fashion, Kelis (8.5/10) arrives half an hour late for her set but looks typically glamorous and even takes to the drums for 'Bounce' which has the crowd bouncing in unison before 'Caught out There' and 'Milkshake' remind everyone of the gems in Kelis’ possession before the set finishes with a booming version of 'Acapella'.
No Lovebox is complete without the co-founders and Groove Armada (9/10) host a thanksgiving service for services to dance and Lovebox, springing a major surprise when Candi Staton joins the duo on stage for an inspired cameo which sends the masses wild and provides the festival’s first real spine tingling moment of the weekend.
Friendly Fires (9/10) round off Saturday night and bring a carnival atmosphere with them with frontman Ed MacFarlane’s hips once again on fire to the band’s samba rhythms and catchy hooks. The encore of “Hawaiian Air” and “Kiss of Life” brings everything but the grass skirts to an overcast London devoid of sun.
After two days of excess, Sunday starts off slowly before disco fever hits the main stage as Chic feat Nile Rodgers (7.5/10) re-ignite the party, wheeling out their disco classics with Bowie ('Let's Dance'), Madonna ('Like A Virgin') and Diana Ross ('I'm Coming Out') all getting the Chic treatment, reminding us of how many classic songs Nile Rodgers has been behind.
The disco celebrations of the main stage are a stark contrast to Lana Del Rey’s (7/10) distinctive brand of brooding pop over on the Outdoor stage. The Del Rey fans are captivated by the songs, mouthing every word but the set leaves the doubters unmoved.
As the evening draws to a close, so does this year’s festival but not before Grace Jones (9/10) steps out and provides the crowd with a fitting finale. Grace is not your usual OAP, sipping wine and pole dancing her way through her performance, before 'Pull Up To The Bumper' ends the set. An explosion of ticker tape is sent across the crowd before Grace hula hoops through the encore’s 'Slave to the Rhythm' as if her Majesty was in the crowd herself.
A decade of love is now under Lovebox’s belt and another decade looks a pretty sound bet, with diversity and dance still being the two reasons why Lovebox is the gift to London that keeps on giving.
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