Jan Ní Fhlanagáin
posted on August 30, 2008 08:29
Electric Picnic, Day 1 (Stradbally, Co. Laois)
Review Snapshot: A long yet rewarding first day of Electric Picnic highlighted the huge differences between the Irish new and old guards and everything from pies, ticker tape and Icelandic orchestral manoeuvers in the dark in between.
The Cluas Verdict? 7.5 out of 10
After an early start, repeated to-ing and fro-ing from car to campsite and prolonged tent pitching – it seems the term ‘four man tent’ refers to how many people it takes to erect the tent as opposed to how many people fit in it – Electric Picnic, day one, kicked off with an invitation to a mass orgy at the main stage from Ronan Ó Snodaigh of Kíla, “We’ve got 50 minutes to make love to you” and with that we were off.
Despite a relatively early slot at 4.30pm, Kíla pulled a large crowd and set about getting the party started. There were Brazilian carnival dancers, Cirque de Soleil type aerial acrobatics and a gospel choir, not to mention explosions of ticker tape! With its philosophy of living life to the full as your own self completely, ‘Leanfaidh Mé’, from their sophomore album ‘Tóg go Bog É’, proved a statement of intent for the weekend. From there it was straight into ‘Four Skinhead Reels’ and free-form ceilí dancing ensued as far as the eye could see. This was the perfect start to the picnic. Kíla’s inimitable energy and sheer force of being would leave no toe untapped and no heart unmoved.
Feeling sufficiently festive it was time for man of the moment Richie Egan and Jape. Two years ago he drew a modest crowd early in the day on a small stage curated by Damien Rice. This time around the Crawdaddy stage was packed to bursting with a swell of sweaty and swarthy revellers, a clear testament to the popularity of songs like ‘I Was A Man’, ‘Streetwise’ and ‘Floating’, all of which were met with frenzied applause, whopping and general limb flailing. Most encouraging of all was the airing of some new material in front of a festival crowd - a sure sign of an artist brimming with confidence. The set list was largely drawn from the brilliant ‘Ritual’ – a shoe-in for several album of the year accolades come December - and despite one or two technical hiccups, Mr. Egan had the crowd eating out of his hand from beginning to end. Highlights included an extended sample of ‘Put ‘em under Pressure’ tagged onto the end of ‘Streetwise’ and a rousing rendition of ‘Phil Lynott’.
Next up in the Crawdaddy tent was Christy Moore, but ten minutes was all this reviewer could stand. In much the same way as annoying backpacker types ‘DO’ Thailand/Cambodia/Chile/Argentina, the vast majority of people seemed to have come along just to tick Christy Moore off their ‘list of legends to see before they, or I, die’. Incessant chat, hustle and bustle proved too irritating to stand. More recent material was met with indifference and old favourites such as ‘City of Chicago’ and ‘North and South of the River’ sent the audience into sing-along overdrive to the point of drowning out the man himself.
As the light began to fade over the main stage, Allison Goldfrapp, donned in harlequin-esque garb, appeared to the strains of ‘Utopia’ from her debut album ‘Felt Mountain’. Her, at times, operatic voice was a stark reminder of just how versatile a performer she is. From there it was straight into lead single ‘A&E’ from most recent album ‘Seventh Tree’ and this set the tone for the next half hour of so. Although beautiful and expertly performed there was a danger that the whole set could descend into something much more suited to a marquee in the body and soul area. However as darkness fell and ‘Little Bird’ drew to a close, the bass was turned up and the synthesisers were unleashed. Chests thumped as crowd favourites from ‘Black Cherry’ and ‘Supernature’ came thick and fast, ratcheting up the energy levels and the complexity of the dance moves! A truly stonking ‘Strict Machine’ brought a slick, yet sublime, set to a close.
Having gorged on some of the gastronomic delights available from the likes of Pieminister and Diep Noodles, it was back to the main stage for Friday headliners Sigur Ros. Given the Icelanders predilection for album titles such as ( ) and songs named in an invented language, it’s a little difficult to give a comprehensive review of their set list!! They opened with the anthemic, ethereal and other-worldy ‘Svefn-g-Englar’ from their second album ‘Ágætis Byrjun’ which planted smiles squarely on most faces. Stars were shining brightly in the sky for stunning renditions of ‘Hoppípolla’ and ‘Glósóli’ from 2005’s ‘Takk’, pleasing the crowd no end. However, 90mins of blissed out, orchestral genius, proved a little too much to take. It was a set more suited to a marquee, post-midnight, drink in hand, bum on seat than an opening night, headline slot on the main stage. So with the strains of Amiina’s string arrangements ringing in our ears and sleep teasing our eyes, it was time to return to the welcome floatation of inflatable mattresses, where the distant thump of the dance tent rocked us to sleep.
Jan ní Fhlanagáin
Check out as well CLUAS.com's reviews of Day 2 and Day 3 of Electric Picnic 2008.