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The Witnness Festival

Sunday, August 5th

 Witnness FestivalStarting the second morning of a two day festival by downing a bottle of Jack Daniel's and coke may seem like a very Irish way to celebrate, but a friend did exactly that early Sunday morning, and the alcohol was followed by him tripping and falling into a heap on top of his tent. Presuming he was down for the day, we wandered off in search of a less toxic breakfast. This proved difficult. A chipper van which, along with a solitary ice-cream van, comprised the 'campsite catering'. The van sold stale baguettes containing a mangy looking rasher and sausage for five quid. You had to fight for the ketchup and what's more they had the cheek to call them breakfast rolls.

With breakfast given up as a lost cause I headed to the stages, hoping that the music was better than the food. Thankfully, for the most part, it was.Snow Patrol took to the main stage with a small lazy crowd of onlookers, who lounged in the grass nursing hangovers or getting started on producing new ones. The weather was a mixed bag, one minute it looked like a storm was brewing, the next the sun broke though the clouds and had the audacity to suggest that summer might actually happen. Funnily enough, the weather suited Snow Patrols quiet/loud music to a tee. They played a great set. Next up on the main stage were Relish, whose formulated pop seemed to please the crowd. The hits were all there, including 'Let it Fly'. The band are tight and the songs are good but it's all a little too much by the book for me. Feeder came on next, and managed to wake the crowd up a bit with their angsty rock tunes. There were a fair few die-hards who got up to mosh but for the most part the most energy expended was in kicking the free blowup balls which HB were kind enough to give away with the ice-cream. After Feeder it was time to investigate the tents.

On the Rising Stage 'Whites Stripes' a Detroit brother and sister duo were really kicking some ass. Dressed in a strange uniform of red trousers and white top, the sister beat the proverbial out of her drums while the brother thrashed his guitar and sang. The band got a great reaction from the crowd with their punked-up music - one onlooker described them as 'the Carpenters on crack'! Onward to the More tent where ex-Pixie Frank Black and his merry band of Catholics were beating out the tunes. He certainly has muscles but the music didn't and it left a lot to be desired. A quick visit to the Cafe tent to catch the end of Dubliner Steve Fanagan's set. A quiet spoken singer-songwriter, Steve's singing voice echoes at times of the late great Jeff Buckley.

It was time for a break from the music and what better company than Nescafe to take the break in. Their stand next to the cafe tent was churning out free cups of coffee and after a couple of these the energy levels were replenished enough to venture off to see more music. On the main stage James was throwing out the hits but I decided to miss that one and headed instead for the dance tent. Now I don't get the whole dance thing at the best of times but at five o'clock (ish) on a Sunday afternoon I get it even less. Nonetheless the techno was being churned out and the clubbers were giving it loads - jaws, feet, arms, legs flying in all kinds of strange and unnatural directions. Having beat a hasty retreat from those sweaty environs it was back to the More tent where the most overrated band in pop music Teenage Fanclub were singing ever so sweetly and tiddling their guitars into cute little melodies. Very boring indeed.

It was time to go the main stage when the Fun Loving Criminals were doing their funky stuff. Front man Huey was slick as always and the band put on a great show. Their eighty minute set included songs from all four of their albums. Highlights include their current single 'Bump' and 'Where the Bums Go'. The crowd was at its liveliest yet, bopping around under the spell of the king of lounge. There was a weird dance going on with a roll of toilet roll down the back. A great set altogether.

Next it was back to the Rising tent, where my personal highlights of Witnness played in succession. David Kitt was first up. He played to a packed tent, proof of how much he has grown in popularity since he played the same stage to a small crowd twelve months ago. His set consisted of songs from both his albums and was an absolute treat to behold. His little brother Robbie joined him on stage for 'Another Love Song'. Another highlight was the gorgeous 'What I ask' from the Big Romance album. Glen Hansard joined Kitt on stage for one song, after which Kittser finished his gig with a 15 minute version of 'Headphones'.

Outside the weather had finally broken and over on the main stage Texas were doing their middle of the road thing in time with the drizzle. In the Rising tent though, the Super Furry Animals took the stage and gave us the perfect end to the evening. They played a set consisting of songs mainly from their just released 'Rings Around the World' album. Each song had its own video, which were shown on screens either side of the stage. All of the best songs of what is a great album were played, including 'Rings Around the World', 'Juxtaposed with You' and 'It's not the end of the World'.

A great end to the day.

Niamh Grimes

(bullet) Check out the CLUAS coverage of Day 1 of Witnness

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