Saturday 18 November 2017

Party like it's 1999: Pulp and Underworld bring a thumping Picnic to a close

Underworld frontman Karl Hyde takes the Electric Picnic Main Stage by storm. Photo: Tony Kinlan
Underworld frontman Karl Hyde takes the Electric Picnic Main Stage by storm. Photo: Tony Kinlan
Bob Geldof live and plugged in for the Picnic last night
Arcade Fire take to the stage in Stradbally
An inventive sculpture at the festival

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

Conditions may have been damp, but 30,000 revellers were intent on wringing every last drop of fun from the Electric Picnic

BOB Geldof is renowned as a livewire who's had enough energy to sustain a 35-year career in the music business while simultaneously waging a tireless campaign against famine and social injusticeBut Electric Picnic defeated him. Exhausted after a late-afternoon interview at the Stradbally, Co Laois, festival with economist David McWilliams, during which the pair discussed Live Aid, the music business and Geldof's business interests, the 59-year-old rocker had to ask for a bit of a lie-down before taking to the stage with his band last night.

Thomas Crosbie, the owner of the Stradbally Estate, thoughtfully provided a bed in the big house for the former Boomtown Rat, but with former Clash star Mick Jones pounding out 1980s' hits on the nearby main stage with his reformed band Big Audio Dynamite, catching 40 winks might have been Geldof's biggest challenge to date.

Meanwhile, in the damp festival fields, 30,000 revellers were intent on wringing every last drop of fun from the final hours of the three-day music festival.

And while there was a bite of autumn in the air, fans were thankful that the torrential rains of Friday and Saturday stayed away.

There aren't many music festivals where an appearance by a Booker Prize-winning author would be one of the highlights, but the Picnic is not just any festival.

Over the years, it has developed a reputation as a haven for middle-aged, middle-class culture vultures, so it was no surprise that an appearance by highbrow writer John Banville -- interviewed by RTE's Miriam O'Callaghan on the Arts Council Literary Stage on Saturday -- was one of the weekend's hottest tickets.


"I have suffered a lot of interviews with third-rate people, so to be interviewed by a real professional is quite an experience," said Banville.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, O'Callaghan said she was thrilled to have a "packed tent" for the Q&A.

The mother of eight said she was delighted to be there for the first time, swapping RTE studios for a sofa and a tent.

"I love trying new things. This is what life should be about," she added.

Curating the literary stage, novelist Dermot Bolger praised the eclectic mix of attendees, with the only downside being "the odd person" falling asleep.

Having got their fill of high culture, festival-goers whiled away yesterday afternoon and evening sipping from boxes of wine in the comfort of their campervans, while over at the Theatre of Food, long lines of hungry foodies queued to sample grub from Dublin's posh L'Ecrivain restaurant.

The punters had even managed to stay clean, thanks to an on-site free laundry service provided by washing-machine manufacturer Hotpoint.

Saturday's appearance by Canadian rock outfit Arcade Fire and songwriter John Grant were among the musical highlights of the weekend.

And while Sundays are usually a bit subdued at the Electric Picnic, a stomping early-evening soul set by The Family Stone brought the site back to life last night before dance veterans Underworld, whose 'Born Slippy' anthem features in the opening scene of 1996 film 'Trainspotting', unleashed their pounding beats.

The nostalgia was complete when reformed Britpop veterans Pulp took to the stage in their first appearance in Ireland since 1999.

Seemingly unaffected by the passage of time, Pulp's bittersweet party tunes and the scissor kicks of singer Jarvis Cocker brought a celebratory atmosphere to the last event in Ireland's summer festival calendar.

Irish Independent

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