The Witnness Festival
Fairyhouse, Co. Meath, 5 & 6th Aug 2000
Niamh's review is below. Click here for Ronan's longer, more in-depth review of the performances at the festival.
Irelands' first two day festival since Feile '95 took place last weekend when Witnness hit town. This was no halfhearted attempt either - this was a proper festival, complete with funfair, campsite, festival food and a market. The beer was cheaper than it is in HQ and it wasn't even warm. It only rained briefly on the Saturday, which was very strange indeed. The sun is a stranger to these shores at the best of times and so it was a very welcome guest at this festival.
The musical lineup was decent too, with over 69 acts playing over four stages. Saturday saw David Gray's triumphant return to Ireland, when he played a brilliant two hour set in front of 30,000 people. Quite a change from Whelan's I think you will agree. Luckily his live sets are still as good and alive as they were in the good old days, the head nodding is still there, as are the bad jokes from drummer Clune. Some of the old favourites got an airing including 'Shine', 'Late Night Radio' and 'Debauchery'. The raucous crowd was happiest when the hits were played, 'Please Forgive Me' got a particularly good reaction, while 'This Year's Love' saw the lighters come out.
Another highlight for me on Saturday was Death in Vegas, who played and absolute blinder in the Dance tent. Wonderfully dark and intense. Also on Saturday Cane 141 provided respite from the horror that is Bjorn Again. I first saw this Galway band supporting Tindersticks last year. They impressed then and again today with their gentle, dreamy tunes.Badly Drawn Boy played the More stage on Saturday, but I missed the point totally with this guy. Dull guitar music was all I heard, with mediocre singing. Don't believe the hype.
Sunday's lineup had vast amounts of Irish rock on offer, most of which I avoided. One of the best acts I saw on Sunday was Rae and Christian, who played in the Dance tent. A brilliant variety of styles was evident in this act. There was a total of eight musicians on stage, complete with two guys on the decks, saxophone, flute, double bass and bongos. There was also some excellent vocals - their female singer has a gorgeous voice, soulful in the extreme. There was laid back grooves and beats, and some very funky instrumentals.
Sunday evening saw David Kitt play one of his biggest gigs yet, though unfortunately his set in the Rising tent was plagued with a painfully bad sound. His little brother Robbie got one of the biggest cheers of the weekend when he joined David on stage to sing backing vocals on 'Another Love Song'. Later on in the day Beck played a suitably big and funky show on the main stage, most of which I missed, as the Frames played at the same time on the Rising stage. What a gig that was too. The tent was jammed with people and the atmosphere was buzzing - a real home grown triumph, with 'Star Star' being one highlight. With the festival coming to an end it was time to avoid the indie kings Travis, who finished off the night on the main stage. Instead I caught Asian Dub Foundation in the More tent. They played a great set, with their blend of dub, drum n' bass, reggae and more proving to be the perfect end to the festival.