Electric Picnic crowd goes wild for Hozier's David Bowie 'Heroes' tribute
Published 05/09/2016 | 02:30
There was rain, there was sunshine, there was a surprise appearance by Hozier, who popped up to belt out David Bowie's 'Heroes'.
The 'Take Me To Church' singer made his cameo early on Saturday, by which point the sell-out crowd had already enjoyed headline turns by Chemical Brothers, The 1975 and Super Furry Animals (who, for bonus chuckles, arrived for their encore dressed as… super furry animals).
Now in its 13th year, the Electric Picnic has long since moved on from its early incarnation as the quirky alternative to larger festivals - and with Lana Del Rey and Noel Gallagher among the A-listers topping the bill, the 2016 staging packed perhaps the most mass appeal yet.
Friday's first major eye-opener was rapper Naz, a '90s hip hop star whose reputation has grown across the past decade-and-a-half. He lit up the early evening with an unexpectedly searing performance that demanded you pull up and pay attention.
"Electric Picnic!" the 42-year-old screamed as people literally stopped in their tracks to watch. This was about as subtle at the set got, with Naz ripping through high-kicking rap classics.
Friday night on the main stage belonged to the Chemical Brothers, veterans of the '90s dance explosion.
In the flesh their show was a story of contrasts, with Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (still not actual brothers) noodling behind laptops in the style of bloggers who'd ended up in front of 30,000 strangers by accident.
This was juxtaposed with a spectacular light display, equal parts inspired by Star Wars and the scary tunnel sequence from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A trip - and then some.
There was a surprise early on Saturday when Hozier gave his first Irish performance in over a year, guesting with The Trinity Orchestra (of which he is a former member) during their tribute to Bowie.
The rain had come and gone by evening and, realising they were as wet as they were likely to get, the audience accorded an enthusiastic main-stage hello to Catfish and the Bottlemen, four swaggeringly scruffy north of Englanders whose repertoire crackled with laddish yearning.
But they faced stern competition for millennial hearts and minds from the Electric Arena, where Jack Garratt - aka the British music industry's new, improved version of Ed Sheeran - entranced his largest Irish audience yet.
Were it possible, the Electric Arena had been even busier for Walking On Cars, a Kerry five-piece who suggest Mumford and Sons with a Celtic lilt and whose debut album is one of the biggest-selling Irish albums of 2016.
But while the under-25s were flocking in one direction, the greybeards in attendance had to decide between '90s Kilkenny group Engine Alley or a speed wine tasting class at the Theatre of Food (a sentence you could only write about at Electric Picnic, in fairness).
Then nightfall - and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds were here to remind everyone why Oasis's biggest tunes have grown more anthemic with the years. After an hour or so of solid solo stuff, the elder Gallagher was happy to sate his public's craving for nostalgia with 'Wonderwall' and 'Don't Look Back in Anger'.
At the Electric Arena, Years and Years drew a notably younger crowd, who also joined their voices in unison as singer Olly Alexander belted out 2015 chart-topper 'King'.
It was a crowning moment - topped only by Lana Del Rey on Sunday.
10 of the best at 'Electric' event
1. Brian Deady: Cork soulman delivering searingly honest lyrics with genuine pose and dazzle.
2. LCD Soundsystem: Retro dance-rock, with the teddy-bear-like James Murphy a charming frontman.
3. Dylan Moran: A comedy masterclass from the laconic stand-up.
4. John Talabot: Barcelona DJ and producer stunned a pack tent with quicksilver beats and expectedly crafted "drops".
5. Talos: Up-and-coming Irish group make the most of their Picnic debut at Body and Soul arena.
6. The Shins: Down-tempo pop delivered with a smile (and one or two high-kicks from frontman James Mercer).
7 Daniel Avery: A rollicking wee-hour set by UK beatmaster, where it really was all about the bass.
8 Rejjie Snow: Dublin rapper delivered an Irish home-coming to remember.
9 Todd Terje: Experimental pop to kick off the weekend with a swagger
10 The weather: It didn't rain (as much as predicted)!