The dulcet tones of French band, François & The Atlas Mountains brought a splattering of Mediterranean sunshine to the otherwise rain-soaked morning, and the almost hypnotic feel of Les Plus Beaux reminded me of fellow French act, M83, with its gentle melodies and whispered vocals. The set was brief, with hardly a spoken word directed at the growing crowd apart from the occasional 'merci', but lead singer, François Marry, kept the audience enraptured with his mesmerising swaying around the stage, and a little grin escaping from his rather solemn face every once in a while.
Taking to the stage next was Gaz Coombes (lead-singer of Supergrass). After the band split up in 2010 after 17 years together, Coombes has returned with his debut solo album,
Here Come The Bombs. 'With a song entitled Whore, Coombes' new tracks seem to encompass a melancholic psychedelia, far from the easy-breezy Britpop of Supergrass' Alright and Sun Hits The Sky.
|Lianne La Havas|
It was not surprising on the Jubilee weekend that Billy Bragg had a lot to say about the monarchy and the state of the country in the present moment. Where others, he states, feel proud to be British when they see the Queen, he feels patriotic when watching the Leveson Enquiry on the television - a theme firmly embedded in Never Buy The Sun. A rendition of Bob Marley's One Love reflected the political activism with new lyrics about dropping the debt in Africa, and complete with actions for the audience, proceeded to be a huge success amongst the crowd. Despite Bragg declaring to the audience that 'music doesn't have the power to change the world', his lyrics certainly evoked much thought amongst the audience members, and I was left with the sense that perhaps Bragg's songs have a larger impact on people than he thinks.
Stornoway's set opened with new song, Farewell, Appalachia!, a haunting but magical number with lead singer, Brian Briggs' voice intertwining with the soaring violin to create a beautiful but spine-chilling effect, whilst the thundering cymbals conjured up images of the dramatic landscape of the Appalachian Mountains. The audience were also introduced to other songs which didn't feature on debut album, Beachcomber's Windowsill. Having already heard The Bigger Picture at previous gigs, and not immediately falling in love with it, I was pleasantly surprised with the new arrangement, which now involves input from the whole band for a much fuller sound, which certainly made for a bigger impact than the last few times I've heard it.
All the elements of the perfect Stornoway set were present. Crowd favourites, Watching Birds and Zorbing were played with the charm and exuberance that make Stornoway so loved by many, and in usual Storno-fashion, Briggs delighted the audience with his many anecdotes - relating both the plight of hundreds of sheep falling off a lorry on an Australian motorway; and the day it rained sardines in Ipswich, making the rain lashing down outside seem quite tame in comparison.
With a good mix of songs from all three of their albums, their headline set proved to be a huge success amongst everyone in the audience. Finishing with L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, the masses spilled out from Victoria Park onto the streets of East London in high spirits, with hardly a thought for the royal flotilla only a short distance away, which had been preoccupying the minds of most of the country.
For more photos from the day, visit the NotAnotherRainySunday facebook page