The rain-lashed trek to Victoria Park in London ends, in the first instance, at the packed comedy tent, where Shappi Khorsandi is making good on the promise of the warning signs that some material on offer won't be suitable for all ages; but no matter that she is relating (very funny) tales of her sexual misadventures, the weather means plenty of toddlers and pre-teens have been forced to seek refuge here.

Apple Cart is the family-friendly alternative to Field Day, staged in the same oasis of green space in east London the previous day, and given the conditions, it's perhaps best seen as a training ground for festivalgoers of future generations. Forget the jubilee parties elsewhere, this is what the British summer looks like: thousands of music fans grimly looking to enjoy themselves as they slip and slide in the mud or queue for organically produced burgers.

Billy Bragg, of course, also offers a refreshing antidote to the royalist celebrations. In fiery form, he serves up a recast version of his Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards that includes plenty of pops at the coalition, and also a call for Roy Hodgson's head – speedily amended to the suggestion that we perhaps wait until at least next week for that. To finish, following A New England, he unleashes a dozen giant balloons out across the crowd, and sings I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles.

The Apple Cart demographic makes sense of the fact that the next act in the main tent – now developing a rich fug – is an act of the same vintage, albeit of a very different stripe: Kid Creole and the Coconuts. The Kid himself – August Darnell – looks in splendid health, dressed in a purple suit; his three dancers and backing singers are less equipped for the weather, skimpily attired in leopard print, and they are not, as their leader acknowledges, the original Coconuts, more like their grandchildren. Then he dedicates a song to "all the illegitimate children" out there, with a winning version of Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy.

Elsewhere, there's a spirited performance from Beth Jeans Houghton in one of the smaller tents – thankfully, all the music is inside – plus a great DJ set from a dapper and un-dampened Kevin Rowland when the comedy finishes, and some eye-popping turns in the cabaret tent (a special mention goes to Feral Is Kinky, purveyor of electro ragga, the nation's Jessie J, in a wholly parallel universe.)

There is finally time to catch Adam Ant, another of the early-80s generation. But while dressed in his Kings of the Wild Frontier finery, there are few concessions to nostalgia: hits including Stand and Deliver and Antmusic are matched with earlier fan favourites such as Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2), and he snarls and leaps around the stage with conviction. And after attempts to entice a singalong to Prince Charming – you'd have thought fitting for this weekend – fall embarrassingly flat, he finishes with a cover of Get It On and the early obscurity Physical (You're So).

The good news then, for all generations, is that no one is heading home to a tent for the evening.

The view on Twitter


Caspar Llewellyn Smith

The GuardianTramp

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