20stoby kaar (BODY & SOUL) Electronic virtuoso Toby Kaar from Cork played a spectacular set in the Body & Soul area on Friday.
toby kaar (BODY & SOUL) Electronic virtuoso Toby Kaar from Cork played a spectacular set in the Body & Soul area on Friday.
Mid-act, he dedicated a song to his mum, before pulling off his jumper to reveal a dodgy '80s-style white singlet. "I promised her I wouldn't do this," he added. An older woman dancing beside me found this amusing: his mother, as it transpired -- she almost burst with pride. A beautiful moment during a beautiful set. KB
interpol (MAIN STAGE) They have it far too easy, these guys. Time and time again, the world forgets that Paul Banks and Co don't have it in them to deliver a storming live show. Somewhere along the way, this New York outfit lost their mojo. And it ain't ever coming back. So, if it's a dreadfully dull rock band with more life in their light show that you're after, then Interpol is the group for you. CW
small talk I dare say that the children were having a better time than the adults at this year's Electric Picnic. I ran into a 10-year-old in a costume shop who was looking for something "totally crazy to wear -- just for today". It transpired that the pirate hat his parents bought him in the same shop the day before was no longer cutting the mustard. His parents were initially bemused by his enthusiasm but the smile was soon off the father's face when his son plumped for a wig. "No, I'm not giving you money for a wig. Put it down. Please." KB
impromptu SHOWS Patrons of the Hurly Burly Cafe in Body & Soul were treated to a magical moment on Sunday morning. The music was turned up and the waiters, chefs and kitchen staff burst into a highly choreographed mime-style dance. Surreal but sweet. KB
pj harvey (main stage) Polly Jean Harvey has something in her hair. From where I'm standing, it looks like a bird (possibly a crow). What's that? It's some sort of hat, you say? Okay then. Whatever about Ms Harvey's latest image, there's just something that doesn't sit right about this evening's performance. Don't get me wrong -- the woman is a remarkable talent; her most recent release, Let England Shake providing the set's best moments. But the main stage just doesn't suit her. It swallows her up, meaning one of the more fascinating heavy-hitters of the festival fails to make an impact. You can't help but wonder how things might have been had it all taken place in a tent. CW
the rapture (electric arena) Take some of the funkiest, disco-flavoured punk you've ever heard. Add a little saxophone. Throw in a cowbell or two, and some shouty, yet hugely infectious choruses, and you have one of the coolest party rock bands on the bill. Just look at Gabriel Andruzzi and his sax: the man isn't even the lead singer and yet he's the slickest dude in the tent. Sweat begins to drip from heads; drinks and (clean) toilet paper fly everywhere. It's barely 8pm, and already we're at the greatest shindig of the night. "Gonna get myself into it!" they sing. Mind if we join you? CW
the drums (crawdaddy stage) "This is a song about my dead best friend." Now there's a great opening line. But it's the kind of thing we've come to expect from Jonathan Pierce and chums. In short, The Drums produce the kind of hipster-friendly, Smiths-inspired rock'n'roll that's okay to sing along to. Just so long as you don't take it too seriously. Better still, they're a far superior band in a live setting; Pierce's flamboyant, playful charms, and elastic vocal work a suitable match for the heavy distortion and pounding percussion that echoes around the tent. Remember lads -- louder is always better. CW
going down the rabbit hole1 'Journey into the other world' read the sign outside. I didn't need much persuading. What followed was a 45-minute long 'multi-sensory experience' which involved lying on the ground while watching visuals on the ceiling, listening to tribal drum beats and wondering if it was in fact a p**s take. I didn't get to meet my 'guide' (one man said he was communicating with an orca whale during his session.) I did, however, enjoy the 3D visual display -- imagine hurtling through space at 180 miles per hour. Better than any of the festival's amusement rides, but I can't say that my spirit soared. KB
james blake (main stage) What we have here is nothing more than a whiny, overgrown school kid from London. He plays keyboards and makes some funny noises with his mouth (it's called moaning, and he doesn't even have the decency to stay in tune when doing so). It isn't innovative -- it isn't inspiring. It is complete and utter drivel, and what the hell it's doing on the main stage is beyond comprehension. With a bit of luck, the hipsters will soon realise that life is too short, and that standing in a field watching some talentless 20-something pretend to be a proper musician is hardly the way to spend it. CW
john grant (cosby stage) The fact that I missed the majority of this exceptional US artist's performance is something I'm going to blame on James Blake. But with four songs to go (including the beautifully presented Outer Space) I caught the end of another extraordinary masterclass in musicianship. The lyrics are messed up, and so was John's head when he was writing these songs. But the man responsible for one of last year's finest albums (the gorgeous Queen of Denmark) is certainly smiling now, perched at his piano, wishing he had more time to spend with us. Come back as often as you like, John. I promise to be earlier next time. CW
jape (electric arena) There should have been a bigger crowd for this one. After all, Dubliner Richie Egan and his band are Picnic veterans at this stage.
There's a new album on the way, too, and Richie is keen to show it off. He is one of the better electronic artists that this country has produced, and the likes of Please Don't Turn The Record Off from the forthcoming Ocean of Frequency go down well.
He's got an ear for melody -- something that comes in handy when trying to write the perfect electronic anthem to soundtrack a gloriously sunny afternoon. And there are plenty of them. "We love you dudes," says Richie. We love you too, Richie. CW
sinead o'connor (main stage) The masculine get-up caught me by surprise. Indeed, it would appear as though Sinead has begun modelling herself on Van Morrison (which is never, ever a good thing), and sports a black suit, slicked-back hair, and a large white scarf -- I guess the woman can wear what she wants.
Besides, it's the music that brought us here (quiet down the back). Which makes it all the more disastrous when Sinead presents to a Friday evening audience one of the more embarrassing sets of the weekend. On several occasions, members of her band stare at each other with confusion.
The amazing voice that people bang on about is nothing more than a glorified wail. Though, I will admit that the new material isn't quite as bad as some might have feared (except for the tune about VIP culture . . . we could have done without that one). A surprisingly flat rendition of Nothing Compares 2 U doesn't help, as the hour-long performance stumbles from one stilted rock number to the next, with patchy, vocal-only breaks in between. Oh, and then there's the Ryan Tubridy dedication at the end:
"See you soon baby! Momma's coming home . . ." Scary stuff. CW
barefaced cheek A special mention to the two gentlemen sporting absolutely nothing but their Wellington boots. It's hard to say which aspect was funnier: their shameless nudity or the fact that they decided to take a leisurely jog through the campsite. KB
the undertones (crawdaddy stage) Well, wasn't that something. And I don't just mean Paul McLoone's dancing. There were quite a few bands on the bill who could learn a thing or two from The Undertones. Yet, I doubt even they expected such a large turnout for what soon became one of the finest performances of the weekend.
An incredibly tight airing of fun and frantic, three-chord pop punk, The Undertones live isn't just some gig you pass by -- it's a proper rock show, with proper rock songs (Jimmy Jimmy, Teenage Kicks, Family Entertainment, etc), a proper atmosphere, and a proper front man. To watch McLoone shake his hips like Elvis while the others generally keep their cool makes for a unique live experience; any other band, and it might seem a little strange -- cringeworthy, even. But The Undertones were never just any other band. CW
the daft punk orchestra The Picnic promoters always choose their opening acts wisely. People are tired and cold. Their heads are pounding and their feet are sore. They need rousing, uplifting tunes and the promoters duly deliver. The Trinity Orchestra put on a fantastically inventive recital of Daft Punk classics which put the smiles back on the everyone's faces. KB
lykke li (MAIN STAGE) The girl in the black dress sure likes to make an entrance. Heck, it may as well be the Second Coming as the enigmatic Lykke Li wades through the thick smoke and lights, casually clinging to a microphone and urging us to get on down with our bad selves. Granted, there's a lot to be said for the thunderous delivery of her band -- each and every one of them an integral part of Li's diverse sound and presentation. But we're here for the voice, of course -- that oddly intoxicating vocal that's every bit as bittersweet (see the entrancing Jerome) as it is funky (the superb Get Some). At the end of the day, this is pop. Intelligent, well arranged, effortlessly executed pop. Exactly the way it should be. CW
POSH NOSH Electric Picnic always offers something up a bit different from the usual festival food fare. This year, the best-value food came from posh country pile Rathmullan House. The gourmet hotel served exceptionally good food for unusually low prices. Dishes such as poached Lough Swilly salmon; carpaccio of 40-aged short-horn beef and Burtonport crab linguini cost ¤8.
The other sybarites were ensconced in the sushi restaurant in the Body & Soul area where you had to remove your shoes, and there was waiter service and even a wine menu. KB
PULP (MAIN STAGE) Right, so Pulp are back together. Big whoop. Not that I don't like Jarvis Cocker and his merry band of men. It's just, well . . . it's Pulp. Fair enough, the opener was impressive (yes, we do we remember the first time, Jarvis) and an extra effort was made to ensure an equally impressive feast for the eyes. Also, it helps that Jarvis is a bit of a character -- a complete and utter oddball at that, which makes for some great banter in between songs and some comical movements, too. It's just, well . . . it's Pulp. And it's a decent performance (Disco 2000 a highlight), but will we still be talking about it this time next year? Maybe I just don't get it. Still, the crowd largely seems to enjoy it. CW
THE WEATHER As any festival goer will tell you, prepare for the worst when it comes to the elements. But by all standards, the weather was particularly nasty this year. My tent was flooded when I arrived back to it on Saturday night.
Things I learnt from the experience: A rucksack filled with clothes makes a handy foot warmer -- 90pc of body heat is not released from the head. I'm never camping at a festival again. I had to admire the industriousness of a passing couple who were trying to negotiate the Baltic conditions the next morning, though. "Okay, hot shower, hot whiskey, hot tub." I almost asked if I could join them. Still, the atmosphere in the Bacardi tent was electric when the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds on Sunday. For a moment -- just a moment -- the open-air dancefloor flanked by palm trees felt like a nightclub in Ibiza. KB
ARCADE FIRE (MAIN STAGE) And so here we are -- back to where it all began. A hop, skip, and a jump away from the Electric Arena; that big blue tent in which Arcade Fire played what many believe to be the greatest Irish festival performance of all time. But that was six years ago. And despite the fact that everyone's favourite Canadian band have since gone supernova, it's obvious that Win Butler and his comrades haven't forgotten the night that changed their lives. This is their European hometown, they tell us. And boy, are they up for this one.
It's in the way that they move; the way that they play -- the looks on their faces as they delve back into the album that started it all, the magnificent Funeral. My personal highlight? A glorious rendition of No Cars Go. Either that, or set opener Wake Up. But there isn't one bad song. We're dealing with a stellar line-up of musicians here who are just as exciting to watch as they are to listen to. And as balloons fly overhead and the band shakes Stradbally to its core, we're reminded as to why people continue to get excited about the Picnic. Indeed, it doesn't get much better than this. A stunning performance. CW