Saturday 27 December 2014

Review: Friday and Saturday at Electric Picnic

Published 02/09/2014 | 00:00

Debbie Harry, Blondie, lead singer performs on the main stage at the first day of Electric Picnic. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Debbie Harry, Blondie, lead singer performs on the main stage at the first day of Electric Picnic. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Debbie Harry performs on the main stage at the first day of Electric Picnic. Photo: Damien Eagers

Friday at Electric Picnic has garnered a reputation as a gentle warm up for the full on sensory assault of Saturday and Sunday. To use the old athlete’s adage, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Not all the stages are open for show time and the action doesn’t kick off until around teatime. Mind you, as warm ups go, it doesn’t get much better than Blondie, Foals and Pet Shop Boys, who all perform back to back on the main stage.

Debbie Harry and her band of ice cool new wave legends seem to play in Ireland at every drop of a hat, but as they launch into a stirring version of ‘One way or Another’ you understand exactly why. It prompts a stunning overheard at the Picnic moment, as someone turns around to their friend and asks, “Who are these? A One Direction tribute band?”

The Pet Shops present a feast for the senses featuring eye-popping lights and visuals, dancers clad in horns and their trademark pointy hats. It’s hands down the most flamboyant show of the festival by some distance. Tune-Yards perform the perfect nightcap in the Body & Soul Arena.

Saturday afternoon’s main stage attractions Wild Beasts initially look and sound a little lost and out of place, but eventually they gel into a stunning avant-garde pop band.

The main stage isn’t exactly packed for Wild Beasts, but Hozier prompts an invasion of hot pants clad fans. In addition to the radio staple ‘Take Me to Church’, the Wicklow singer delivers a fine version of Amerie’s pop R&B anthem ‘1 Thing.’

Paolo Nutini also puts in a fine rendition of ‘Recover’ by fellow Scots pop band Chvrches. His love affair with Ireland continues with his first major main stage appearance at an Irish festival. At his best, he can belt them out like Otis Redding.

The eventual appearance of Bristolian trip-hop pioneers Portishead after a 17 year absence from an Irish stage won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Most artists come to Stradbally and entertain. Portishead go the extra mile to deliver one of the year’s finest concerts. The intensity and volume of their classic industrial electro single ‘Machine Gun’ is simply mindblowing.

Chic bring the funk to close the night in style, while SBTRKT (pronounced Subtract) perform a master-class in modern electronica while wearing modern interpretations of native society ceremonial masks.

It’s all just another day in the office at Electric Picnic.

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