Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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All Points East: Victoria Park, London 27/8/21

Jorja Smith: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW
Jorja Smith: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Celeste: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Mahalia: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Shabaka Hutchings (Sons Of Kemet): All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Popcaan: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Omah Lay: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Loyle Carner: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Enny: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Theon Cross: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Mahalia: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Enny: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Celeste: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Jorja Smith: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Kojey Radical: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Kojey Radical: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Loyle Carner: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Omah Lay: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Theon Cross: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Jorja Smith: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Jorja Smith: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Mahalia: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Loyle Carner: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Jorja Smith: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW Mahalia: All Points East, Victoria Park, London 27/8/21 REVIEW

Rewind six months and music lovers could be forgiven for questioning whether they'd get to experience a festival again in 2021. Having dared to hope last year before COVID wiped out live music last summer, the announcement that All Points East would go ahead was a shot in the arm.

The four-day event has established itself as one of the go-to festivals in London, having previously boasted some top lineups. This year was no exception, with Jorja Smith, Mahalia, Enny, Celeste, Kojey Radical, Omah Lay, Sons of Kemet and Loyle Carner on the bill.

After venturing on the Circle Line for the first time in more than a year, I arrived to find the site on Victoria Park looking impressive - with two huge stages on either side with three smaller ones in between, there was no shortage of music to catch.

Nigerian superstar Omah Lay was one of the few international acts on the lineup - with travel rules constantly changing and uncertain, organisers opted to book predominantly UK-based artists. His appeal was evident from the off as a large crowd gathered inside the tent, where Lay delivered half an hour of high energy afrobeats with strong r'n'b influences, fans sang along to tracks including "Understand". The 24-year-old has a bright future ahead of him.
The same is true of South London rapper Enny, whose track "Peng Black Girls" was one of the sounds of 2020 and later featured Jorja Smith on a remix. Her slot on the West Stage may have been early, but those who arrived in good time were amply rewarded with a high energy performance.

Enny's flow is impressive and she's a charismatic figure onstage. 
From there it was back to the other side of the park, where Kojey Radical drew a large crowd. Just a couple of weeks earlier I'd been lucky to see him tear up the stage at South Facing at the Crystal Palace Bowl, and he put on a show to match that. "Cashmere Tears" sounded good in the mid-afternoon sunshine and highlighted why the rapper is one of the jewels in the UK scene's crown.

Sons of Kemet were next up. Their "Black To The Future" is one of my favourite records of the year so far, and they did not disappoint.
Saxophone player and creative genius Shabaka Hutchings and tuba star Theon Cross showed astonishing stamina to get through a set that encompassed the album, with Kojey Radical joining them for a rousing version of "Hustle".

Across the park was one of the most exciting success stories of the past 12 months. The previous time I'd seen Celeste, she was opening for Robert Glasper in 2019. The release of her "Not Your Muse" album, which has rightly been highly acclaimed, will ensure that her name is at the top of the bill in the future.

Performing soulful. jazzy tracks to a large outdoor crowd can be something of a challenge, but Celeste took it all in her stride. Her version of "Lately" - one of the highlights from her album - was impeccable, and she seemed genuinely overwhelmed when the audience joined in with megahit "Stop This Flame"
Mahalia followed her, and again I was struck by her growth since I last saw her a couple of years ago. The 23-year-old has matured into a confident performer, piling through high energy versions of "I Wish I Missed My Ex", "Sober" and "What You Did".

As her performance drew to a close with loud applause, large sections of the crowd began the trek to the East Stage to see joint headliner Jorja Smith. At the tender age of 24 Smith, from the West Midlands, has established herself as one of the brightest young stars this country has, and it was clearly a relief to her to be able to get back in front of a crowd. The smile barely left her face throughout an impressive set that boasted cameos from Jaykae and Jamaican reggae star Popcaan.
"Be Honest", "Nobody But You" and "Come Over" sounded superb as Smith showed why she has built up such a loyal following. With her latest release "Be Right Back" among the essential records of 2021 so far, the festival showed how far she's come in a remarkably short space of time.

Loyle Carner was next up on the West Stage. The Mercury Award-nominated rapper delivered a high tempo set that boasted huge hits "Damselfly" and "Loose Ends". With a new album expected in the not-too-distant future, he's set for another big year ahead.

There was a sense of elation among ticket-holders to be back at a festival, with subsequent days at All Points East featuring a wealth of talent including Kano, Little Simz, Arlo Parks and Lianne La Havas.
It was a triumphant return for the festival after the COVID wipeout and a very welcome one.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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