Jan Ní Fhlanagáin
posted on August 31, 2008 11:06
Electric Picnic, Day Two (Stradbally, Co. Laois)
Review Snapshot: Good weather, good friends and good music all mix together to create almost the perfect festival Saturday.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
As 2007 drew to a close, Cathy Davey’s second album ‘Tales of Silversleeve’ was opening doors and cementing her reputation as one of Ireland’s most talented emerging songwriters. Given that her songs have been played off the radio, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a good crowd for her mid-afternoon slot in the Crawdaddy tent, but having to close it before she even took to the stage must surely have been beyond her wildest expectations – even Guy Garvey and the rest of Elbow couldn’t wangle their way in. ‘The Collector’ and ‘Reuben’ opened the set and got the crowd dancing straight away. On occasion Davey’s aspirate vocal can get lost in a live setting but not today, she was note perfect and the mix was spot on. The set lagged a little in the middle as new material, book-ended by less popular album tracks, left some audience members eyeing up the exits. The opening beats of ‘Moving’ put paid to that though and the crowd were well and truly back on side. A clearly delighted Davey ended proceedings with the spine tingling ‘Sing for your Supper’ and every soul in the house sang along.
The Little Big Tent played host to a decidedly ebullient Ra Ra Riot who treated the modest, but wholly committed crowd, to a sufficiently pop filled forty minutes of material from their forthcoming debut ‘The Rhumb Line’. They were a long way from home in Syracuse, NY but seemed enamoured with their inaugural trip to Ireland and pledged a return later this year.
A hop, skip and jump over to a packed Electric Arena had us arrive just in time for the tail end of The Breeders set. ‘Cannonball’ followed by a cover of The Beatles ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, performed with Kim Deal’s customary wit, drew rapturous applause from the massive crowd.
Next up in the Electric Arena were the ever affable Elbow. The band took to the stage trumpets in hand and opened with a rousing rendition of ‘Starlings’ followed by ‘The Bones of You’ and ‘Mirrorball’ off their most recent album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’. Guy Garvey’s smoke and whiskey voice soared as he turned himself, and the audience, inside out during both ‘Leaders of the Free World’ and ‘Grounds for Divorce’. Mancunian wit and everyman charm proved the order of the day as we were treated to tracks from across their impressive back catalogue, ‘Newborn’ and ‘Grace Under Pressure’ proving the most beguiling. The euphoric ‘One Day Like This’ was as cathartic as it was electric, with every voice in the place wrapped around the life affirming, smile inducing lyric. In a move reminiscent of their recent Vicar St gig, Mr. Garvey joined the great unwashed down the front where, hoist on a wave of good feeling, he led the crowd through the closing bars, gladdening hearts as he went.
Next it was back to the Little Big Tent where Dan Deacon was holding court and choreographing audience members into what seemed like the human embodiment of organised chaos. Performing from within the crowd for the duration of the set and bedecked in neon, he tore it up from the start, inciting near riotous levels of crowd interaction. There were human gauntlets, frenzied chasing and the instruction for ‘Silence like the Wind’ was to “dance like we’re in Jurassic Park, and hippy the shit out of it”. For sheer levels of mania, hilarity and shit hot beats, this set will be hard to beat over the course of the festival.
A passing glance at Grace Jones confirmed a number of things, 1. she’s mad as a box of frogs and 2. she’s in the kind of shape most nubile 20 something’s would be envious of. With a set drawing largely from her 1981 release ‘Nightclubbing’ she wowed the audience with her many costume changes and near yogic dance moves. A once off in every way.
A short stint with Underworld, essentially comprising of a brief exercise in glow stick cheerleading, was all we could stand before tripping over to the Crawdaddy Tent for a brief dalliance with Stuart Staples and the Tindersticks. Perfectly pitched and utterly decadent though they were, there was a tangible danger that we would end up written off for the night were we to stay in the red wine haze of such sonic treats as ‘Can Our Love…’.
Ferris Wheels, Carousels, Donal Dineen in Body and Soul and an epic 90 minutes of unadulterated fun in the Silent Disco saw the clock strike 4 and nightcaps under the shelter of a gazebo with friends old and new brought us to 6am when the sun came up and heads finally hit the hay.
Jan Ní Fhlanagáin
Check out as well CLUAS.com's reviews of Day 1 and Day 3 of Electric Picnic 2008.