Sunday 17 December 2017

John Meagher: A good mix of new and old but Irish acts thin on the ground

John Meagher

John Meagher

IT may have a serious summer festival rival in the form of Longitude, but Electric Picnic will return for an 11th instalment this year with a strong initial line-up.

Aficionados are likely to be purring thanks to the presence of headliners OutKast, the American rap trailblazers, and Portishead, the Bristol trio whose pioneering trip-hop style was among the most exciting developments in music in the 1990s. That both play live only sporadically serves to heighten their appeal on the bill.

It's good to see St Vincent and Beck there too. Singular American songwriters both, they are responsible for two of the very best albums of 2014 to date, with the former – aka Annie Clark – attracting glowing reviews for her show at the Olympia last month.

Clark is no stranger to Electric Picnic, either, having been among the highlights of last year's festival thanks to the novel Love this Giant project with Talking Heads' David Byrne.

Elsewhere, there's a mix of hipster-approved contemporary names and intriguing older ones: Foals, London Grammar, Metronomy are among Britain's most acclaimed bands today, while Slowdive and Stephen Malkmus (ex-frontman of Pavement) both enjoyed their heydays 20 or so years ago, but retain a loyal following.

The eclectic nature of the festival is encapsulated by the addition of polar opposite acts Lily Allen and The Stranglers and there's also room for the likes of Paolo Nutini and Simple Minds, whom most Picnic veterans would think are strange fits for this festival.

Nile Rogers has been such a frequent visitor to these shores he might be due an honorary citizenship and he's back at Electric Picnic once again with his disco stalwarts, Chic. Familiarity may breed contempt, but their live show is fantastic.

Some will be disappointed by the poor showing for Irish acts, although several domestic names will be announced over the next month or so.

The recently reformed Dublin quartet, The Blades, are on the bill and they will be hoping to roll back the years like it's 1979 all over again.

Irish Independent

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