Bookended by blasts of pyrotechnics, dance dons Disclosure unleashed their stack of throbbing, club-savvy singles upon a sell-out All Points East festival crowd. The thrilling rhythms and rave-inspired electronics for which the Lawrence brothers are known shook The East Stage. Highlights were plentiful. The UK garage flava of recent RAYE collaboration ‘Waterfall’ entranced, the rush of their Zedd collaboration ‘You’ve Got To Let Go If You Want To Be Free’ delighted, and the subterranean pulse of ‘When a Fire Starts to Spread’ had hands waving in the air.
By the time Disclosure brought out Sam Smith for the pair’s mega-hit ‘Latch’, any resistance was futile. “That’s the first time we’ve done that in five years,” they imparted as Smith bounded off the stage.
Rounding off with streamers rocketing over the crowd and a brass band for the Rio-infused Tondo, this high-octane cemented Disclosure’s place as Britain’s premier purveyors of dancefloor bangers. Mission completed.
Fred Again… packed The North Stage out to bursting point for the British instrumentalist and producer’s must-see set. “I wanna say thank you so, so much for being here. I’m not lying when I say I’m completely spun out. We actually put the first single out a year ago and it’s an honour to be able to play it for you tonight,” he said gratefully. Hyped fans took it to another level when The Streets’ Mike Skinner joined him onstage.
Dynamic and entrancing, James Blake’s brand of ethereal, live electronica brought chilled, late-night vibes to the West Stage. He prefaced a spellbinding rendition of early single ‘Retrogade’ by telling the crowd that it is his ‘favourite’. The spectral beauty of the London artist’s catalogue provided an intoxicating experience. When he dipped into the catalogue of others, he did so alone, taking the spotlight for a simmering solo version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Case Of You’ whilst bathed under white lights. Blake proved he has a peerless talent in making to the most expansive of spaces feel intimate.
Charli XCX’s knack for carving invigorating, 24-carat gold pop was on full display as she took to the stage on The East Stage. The irrepressible charge of ‘I Love It’ united the entire field in an instant, and her set was an impressive feat of stamina, ensuring the levels never dropped during limb-popping, 60-minute set. Lyrcial choreography accompanied a parade of hits that included recent single ‘Hot In It’ and ‘Good Ones’. The singer dedicated ‘Boys’ to “all the gay boys in the crowd”, before throwing a dedication to the girls for ‘Vroom Vroom’. This was a supercharged, arms-aloft trip into 21st century pop paradise. Charli XCX exited the stage with one final, irreverent demand: “Make some noise for me, bitch!”
“This is one of my favourite cities in the world”, enthused Californian musician H.E.R. Defying categorisation and pigeonholing, H.E.R.’s stunning set encompassed sparkling R&B, raucous rock, delicate gospel, and more. “London is always one of the best crowds,” she beamed. During her performance, the artist donned an acoustic guitar for a bewitching ‘Cheat Code’, followed by ‘Best Part’. H.E.R. then showcased her virtuoso guitar skills, soloing and tapping away on ‘Hard Place’. A version of Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ was interpolated with Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ before morphing into a rollicking ‘Glory’. A cover of Lenny Kravitz’ ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ also featured.
Where H.E.R. brought a sprinkling of heaven, Freddie Gibbs brought a delicious dose of the devil. Gibbs’ razor-sharp rap alternated between the intense, brittle hardcore and loping, laidback hip hop. The lyrical hire wire of ‘Scottie Beam’ and ‘Crime Pays’ were among the highlights.
Earlier, Grammy-winner Koffee’s hook-heavy dancehall and reggae blend slipped down like a fine wine on the East Stage. Playing in front of an exceptionally large early evening crowd, and augmented by an exceptional band, the singer brought a carnival spirit to the festival. ‘West Indies’ and ‘Pull Up’ were aired from the artist’s lauded 2022 album, Gifted.
Over on The West Stage, West Coast artist Channel Tres ensured the crowd danced in the afternoon sunshine with a set of dancefloor-friendly, hip house beats. The likes of ‘Sexy Black Timberlake’ ensured limbs were loose and spirits were high.
The East Stage also played host to the jazzy, articulate and invigorating sounds of south Londoner, ENNY. With a sound that evokes late 90s RnB as shot through a contemporary lyrical filter, it was a cocktail that proved a huge success. She declared the occasion to be a “sentimental” one, having played a smaller stage the year before. Anthems-in-waiting such as ‘Same Old’ and ‘Peng Black Girls’ indicated that the pathway to an even higher billing is in sight for this bright new British voice.
Other highlights from day five included, Joy Orbison, Shy FX, and Lola Young, while infectious club beats from Jubilee kick-started the day on The 6 Music Stage.