Tuesday 21 November 2017


Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

electric picnic (sun)

stradbally, Co laois

In an increasingly nostalgic festival universe, two of the most eagerly awaited and persistently rumoured band reunions are without question The Smiths and Talking Heads.

Realistically, there probably isn't a snowball's chance in hell of either actually happening. However, Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr and Talking Heads singer David Byrne provide two of the undisputed highlights of the final day of the last big festival bash of the summer.

Marr makes Smiths' fans squeal with delight with 'Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before', 'How Soon is Now' and the evergreen anthem 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out'.

"This one is dedicated to everyone hear and to no one else," Marr cheekily quips before he signs off with his former band's best known moment. It's a stirring version, even though Marr lacks the vocal flamboyance of the inimitable Morrissey.

David Byrne has been lighting up the festival circuit with acclaimed American chanteuse Annie Clark and a brass section that features what must be the largest trombone seen on a stage anywhere in the world.

Byrne is such a good performer he probably could make singing the phonebook with Daniel O'Donnell sound riveting, but a set-list that features Talking Heads' classics 'Burning Down The House', 'Wild Wild Life' and climaxes with a mesmerising version of 'Road To Nowhere' gives the Electric Picnic three truly classic moments.

Australian dance pop band Jajwar Ma and the weirdly named new Irish six-piece instrumental band Overhead, The Albatross underline their potential with rapturously received performances.

For the lion's share of the audience that snapped up all the Sunday day tickets before the festival completely sold out, it's all about Arctic Monkeys (pictured left) closing the main stage.

The Sheffield quartet audaciously open with a new song entitled 'Do I Wanna Know?' It's a risky strategy to play material from their fifth album that is not out until this Friday, but they pull it off and perfectly stoke anticipation for its arrival.

Opinions on singer Alex Turner's new Teddy boy haircut and dapper crooner look may be sharply divided, but he's grown into an excellent frontman.

"Ladies and gentlemen of Electric Picnic, you may be tired but do you have any love left for Arctic Monkeys?" Turner asks before launching into a blinding version of their breakthrough hit 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor'. For a field full of exhausted but deliriously happy punters, the answer most definitely is yes.

Irish Independent

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