The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Jan Ní Fhlanagáin'

03
The xx 'xx'
A review of the album xx by The xx Review Snapshot: This is a seductive, atmospheric affair tailor made for late nights, long stares and languid dancing. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of ...

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09
Julie Feeney 'Pages'
A review of the album Pages by Julie Feeney Review Snapshot: There isn't an artist quite like Julie Feeney at work in Ireland today, her music is at once eccentric, grounded, cheeky and vulner...

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06
We Were Promised Jetpacks 'These Four Walls'
A review of the album These Four Walls by We Were Promised Jetpacks Review Snapshot: A confident statement of intent from this Edinburgh four piece who are staunch in their sound and endearing in ...

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24
White Lies 'To Lose My Life'
A review of the album To Lose My Life by White Lies Review Snapshot: With echoes of Interpol, Echo and The Bunnymen, Editors and more White Lies emerge from the ashes of ‘Fear of Flying&rsqu...

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20
Antony and The Johnsons 'The Crying Light'
A review of the album The Crying Light by Antony and The Johnsons Review Snapshot:The spine tingling vibrato remains very much in evidence and the bruised and broken hearts that found refuge in &l...

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01

Electric Picnic Day Three (live in Stradbally, Co. Laois)

Electric Picnic 2008

Review Snapshot: In terms of giving Electric Picnic Sunday a mark out of ten overall, I went with a 9….but the festival itself was more than the sum of its parts and as tents got packed away until next year and showers of a near transcendental nature were taken it’s fair to say that Electric Picnic 2008 ranks among the best. 

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:Day three of Electric Picnic began with a rude awakening of sorts, namely 130dBs or so of My Bloody Valentine’s sound check causing much of the Charlie Chaplin campsite (located directly behind the Electric Arena) to shoot bolt upright, from sleep to wake in a time Usain Bolt would be proud of! Still, it was a handy reminder not to forget the earplugs for later in the day.

Feeling every so slightly delicate following the previous evening’s excesses, a seat in the sun with some soul was just what the doctor ordered. Candi Staton was the perfect act for Sunday afternoon on the Main Stage as a sizeable crowd of ramshackle revellers lounged around on the lawn, finding themselves reinvigorated by her incredible warmth, personality and honeyed vocals. ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ brought the crowd to their feet and the good vibes just kept on coming. An extended version of ‘You Got the Love’ was a triumphant end to the set, as every word was belted out across the Main Stage.

Given that the sky above Stradbally was blue as opposed to several shades of grey for the first time in weeks, it seemed a shame to descend into the darkness of yet another marquee and so it was time for some general lolling about in a bid to soak up a selection of what else was on offer at this year’s picnic. Wall of Death at the circus had stomachs churning vicariously, Djembe lessons in the Irish Aid section of the Global Green proved just who was drumming to the rhythm of a different beat while Karl Spain had us running for the exits with his woefully underwhelming stand up which was fortuitous as it led us straight into the Electric Arena and CSS.

Lovefoxx was resplendent in her customary jumpsuit as she bounced and hopped across the stage. This band of Brazilian beatsters were as energetic as ever as they knocked out hit after hit culminating in a closing couplet of ‘Lets Make Love’ and ‘Alala’. Strangely the crowd were more subdued in their appreciation – no doubt festival fatigue was to blame!

Next up was Grinderman.”My face is finished, my body's gone and I can't help but think standin' up here in all this applause and gazin' down at all the young and the beautiful with their questioning eyes that I must above all things love myself”….hearing Nick Cave deliver these lines in a snarly, sinister and dirty version of ‘No More Pussy Blues’ is just confirmation, if it were needed, that the man is one cool bastard. Together these Bad Seed offshoots give the crowd a monumental kick up the arse, Warren Ellis in particular rips his bow through distorted paeans to angry, ageing rock gods. Other highlights included ‘Honey Bee Let’s Fly to Mars’ and ‘I Don’t Need You (To Set Me Free)’.

As the crowd cheered Grinderman from the stage a palpable air of anticipation descended on the Electric Arena. The last band to grace its’ stage this year was without doubt the most eagerly anticipated and as a wall of amps were wheeled on, hundreds of hands reached into hundreds of pockets fumbling for earplugs.

My Bloody Valentine was without doubt the gig of the weekend and possibly the year. ‘I Only Said’ proved the perfect opener and from there it was just sonic bliss throughout. Although there was no new material there was ample representation from both ‘Loveless’ and ‘Isn’t Anything’ LPs and the ‘Tremolo’ and ‘You Made Me Realise’ EPs.

Swirling soundscapes were complimented by one of the better lighting designs of the festival and some mesmeric visuals projected onto the stage backdrop. The crowd were near reverential for large portions of the set not moving beyond an appreciative sway during songs, but tracks such as ‘Soon’ gave rise to much more animated dancing. As for noise levels, let’s just say no internal organs were dislodged but it did get pretty intense during the ‘holocaust’ section of closing track ‘You Made Me Realise’. There was little or no banter aside from a cursory ‘How’s it goin? Thanks for comin’ but yet as the audience erupted in applause, you could tell there was an air of satisfaction in a job well done, particularly among Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig.

Although there were notions of catching some of The Sex Pistols and Conor Oberst, there was little point, seeing another band after that would have simply been an exercise in going through the motions.

Jan Ní Fhlanagáin

  • Check out as well CLUAS.com's reviews of Day 1 and Day 2 of Electric Picnic 2008.

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31

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

Full Review:
Elbow live, Electric PicnicAs 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.

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30

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

Full Review:
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.

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Nuggets from our archive

1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.