Live Review

End Of The Road 2013

End of the Road is about moments.

End of the Road is about moments. Dancing at 3am to R Kelly’s ‘Ignition’ in a tiny shed in a forest, the same forest it’s impossibly easy to get lost in. There are art installations, dial-a-poets - and this year’s line-up is their strongest yet.

David Byrne and St Vincent are a spectacular highlight. Theatrical and fun, their perfectly choreographed showpiece is brought to life with brass and smiles. They present ‘Love This Giant’ in all its glory, its swinging syncopation sounding coloured in. There are special extras – he plays ‘Naïve Melody’, she plays ‘Cruel’. They end with ‘Road to Nowhere’, stomping off stage like a theatrical troupe. Annie Clark’s guitar playing is mesmerising, Byrne seems the most upright man in the world, held up by his braces, the consummate frontman. They mock fight and there’s a feeling everyone on stage is having the time of their lives.

Sigur Rós are the opposite, a rather flat set means their ethereal splendour is devalued - there’s only so much epicness in the world. Sunday’s Jens Lekman set is perfectly pitched, the sunshine the backdrop to Jens’ droll anecdote and joyously uplifting odes to stalking Kirsten Dunst and plans to marry to obtain an Australian visa. Damien Jurado’s great voice and sad songs are unexpectedly punctuated by hilarious interactions with the audience.

In the Big Top Deptford Goth’s iridescent-gloom-hymns are enchanting despite him just sitting behind his keyboard. Likewise the layered beauty of Julianna Barwick is equally captivating. Money’s show is heavy on echo, yet singer Jamie Lee’s charisma proves more than enough, as he starts with a solo version of ‘Ol’ Man River’ holding the crowd in the palm of his hand (as well as kissing the front row). Belle and Sebastian get fans on stage for ‘The Boy With the Arab Strap’ and treat the crowd to a raft of songs from If You’re Feeling Sinister, ending the night with ‘Get Me Away from Here I’m Dying’.

There are louder moments. Parquet Courts start off sloppy but grow into something irresistible with ‘Light Up Gold’ followed by a stunning ‘Stoned and Starving’. The Walkmen blow the Garden Stage apart. Hamilton Leithauser stalks the stage, hand in pocket, seemingly seven feet tall. Elsewhere, Warpaint’s grooves are hypnotic with ‘Undertow’ getting the crowd swaying and new songs whetting the appetite for a new album, while Savages playing in the dark at midnight makes perfect sense, their menace and power on full display.

But Savages seem to be the exception – most of all End of the Road is about bright sunshine and smiles in an enchanting idyllic setting. It’s a weekend made up of perfectly unique moments.

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