You’d be forgiven for thinking summer had never arrived in London. In between two epic thunderstorms and a brief moment to clear waterlogged stages, the famous All Points East festival in Victoria Park resumed its normal Saturday schedule. Despite grey skies, the sprawling site feels jubilant and full of colour. A bit like a large-scale county fair where you can rave in the day, and ride the Ferris wheel at night.
A short stroll around the park invites all kinds of experiences. There’s the jazz-pop independent artist, Raye, whose Winehouse-esque style drew a huge audience, shouts of “we love you!” picked up through her microphone. Around the corner and hidden deep within a large circus tent is French electronic music artist Folamour who had people very literally running to his set and roaring at every mix. And if it’s just dancing that you want, there’s always the BBC 6 music DJ corner, complete with arching light fixtures that give off a Glastonbury Arcadia vibe.
Late into the evening it was time for the headliners of the day: British nu-disco funk band, Jungle. With a big red curtain covering the stage, and distant jazz melodies playing in the background, the ambience felt far removed from the party scenes around the corner. A few notes into their first song, Us Against the World, the mood turns to elation and the curtain, which was supposed to dramatically fall to the ground, falls terribly off-cue and clings helplessly in the middle. It’s a comedic moment that no one really seems to care about – the energy has cataclysmically reached 100.
Jungle, which consists of only two permanent members, has become immensely popular since first forming in 2013. Its founders, Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, have always spoken about the band as a ‘project’ where the emphasis is on the music’s surrounding artwork and videos, rather than any member’s own identity. This is exactly what they delivered. Against a backdrop of flashing lights, and mesmerising patterns on giant screens, the musicians perform in leather jackets, trench coats and sunglasses. They look fiercely cool.
Tonight, the founding members are joined by their touring band Lydia Kitto, George Day, Geo Jordan, Dominic Whalley, and Andreya Triana. Together they spare no time moving from one hit to the next – Candle Flame, Dominoes, The Heat, and Heavy, California – all without a breath, or a word for that matter.
Their love for aesthetics really shines through. The show is a visual delight, each song perfectly paired with a visual design so perfect it’s entrancing. Casio with orange kaleidoscopes, Cherry with deep red veils, Happy Man with a funky yellow disco ball. It’s simple and effective. Meanwhile each musician sticks to their post, grooving along and occasionally encouraging an audience clap-along. They seem happily anonymised. While for any of the guest artists not appearing in real life they appear on giant screens, looking almost like hologram versions of themselves.
Closing off the first part of their set with the totally groovy Good Times the space opens for an encore which is barely a minute long. There’s no desire for theatrics, merely a sense of duty to play all those songs their fans have been wanting to hear (and endlessly trying to guess). It’s all about getting the basics right – the music and the experience – and what better way to end their epic 25-song setlist than with hits Keep Moving, Fire, and perhaps their most famous of all, Busy Earnin’. Having featured in dozens of television shows, ads and even video games, the song evokes a rapturous response and concludes the performance in emphatic style. Still silhouetted in the darkness, the band humbly bow, exiting just as quickly as they appeared.
Live review of Jungle @ All Points East, London on 26th August 2023 by Lilen Pautasso. Photos by Dnieper Cruz.