Frank Ocean returns to London with an introverted set of deep cuts

Frank Ocean returned to London tonight (14 July), playing live in the capital for the first time since July 2013.

Performing to a sold out crowd at London’s Victoria Park, Ocean’s impressive-sounding live setup relied on him and his band wearing headphones throughout. Ocean’s performance style was reflective of his public presence – introverted and understated.

He worked through a setlist which largely followed from other festival appearances he’s made this summer. Opening with Solo, Ocean was sporting some kind of translucent cape.

Addressing the crowd with a “Y’all good?”, Frank ran through recent loosies Lens and Biking whilst being largely broadcast over a night vision camera.

As his set progressed, cuts from Blond[e] invited a special response. His intimate performance of Good Guy stood out vocally and the chorus of Self Control felt like an understated anthem.

Filmed by roving cameras and projected through blurry lenses, Ocean made a point of distancing himself from the huge crowd in front of him. He spent the majority of the set on a mini stage placed further forward than the rest of the crowd. It was impressive and admirable that he stayed this close to his band – but it felt like a direct shunning of his headline status.

The only explicit nod to Channel ORANGE came in the form of Thinkin Bout You which was delivered with a sly nod to his popularity. The careful setup and heads-down delivery left us in doubt that he really had been “thinking ’bout forever.”

Closing with Nikes, Ocean’s much-anticipated return to London could justifiably be seen as an anticlimax. Vocally, everything was on point but his commitment to perfection left a bulk of his performance feeling somewhat flat.

© Photo: Parklife Festival

Biking (Solo)
Comme des Garçons
Be Yourself
Good Guy
Self Control
Close to You
Thinkin’ Bout You
Pink + White