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Frank Ocean split the Lovebox audience with an understated, at times stuttering set

There were fleeting moments of brilliance, but he failed to take flight somewhat

  • Words: Sean Griffiths
  • 15 July 2017
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But, there are moments where the low-key set-up magnifies the simple brilliance of Ocean’s music. As a circle of musicians join Frank on the platform, live renditions of tracks like ‘Self Control’, ‘Close To You’ and ‘Ivy’ from ‘Blonde emphasise the bare bones brilliance that characterised much of that record, while ‘Thinkin Bout You’ (despite a stuttering restart) offers the girls on shoulders, hands in the air, singalong moment much of the crowd has been crying out for throughout the set. But, just as the set builds some real momentum during ‘Nikes’ and the crowd seems to have finally bought in to Ocean’s intimate gathering, we hit curfew and, after a muted apology, Ocean flees the stage while the track keeps playing in the background.

In some respects, you can draw comparisons between Frank’s Lovebox set and Kanye at Glastonbury in 2015. While both showed fleeting moments of brilliance, both failed to take flight somewhat, Kanye held back by his overinflated ego and lack of humility, while Frank conversely is stunted by his obvious hesitance and shy demeanour (“I’m just trying to figure this out,” he admits midway through the show). The mumblings in the crowd and on social media post-set suggest this was a show that largely failed to capture the imaginations of the casual fan, but then maybe Ocean has always been a man for the devotees. And judging by the epic queue at his Blonded merch stall all day, and the sheer number of people who knew every word, Ocean is a man who can more than flourish on the love of the devotees alone.

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