Sunday 21 October 2018

Sex Pistols misfire but our friends electric dish up a feast

Electric Picnic Stradbally, Co Laois

Rebecca Clarke, from Cardiff dances with friends to Kila at Electric Picnic
Rebecca Clarke, from Cardiff dances with friends to Kila at Electric Picnic
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

YET again, the Electric Picnic weekend was blessed with fine, settled weather. Now in its fifth year, the music and arts festival has never turned into a mudbath, making one genuinely suspect that the organisers must have made some murky Faustian pact.

While the scores of national and international acts were a huge draw, it's safe to say that the old adage of Glastonbury, "it's not just about the music", also rings true for Electric Picnic. The lush fields of Stradbally Estate perfectly host a cornucopia of musical thrills.

On Friday night, some of Ireland's brightest new lights kicked off the festivities. Giveamanakick, Pinky and Jape provided three great reasons to be cheerful about the future of Irish music. Richie Egan's Jape brought the Crawdaddy tent down with his slick electro-pop. He even dropped a snippet of 'Put 'Em Under Pressure'.

Kila, The Stunning and The Mighty Stef also kept the homefires burning while opening night headliners Sigur Ros played a gorgeously-choreographed and slickly-produced show that climaxed with a sense-shuddering blast of white noise.

That Petrol Emotion tore out of the blocks on Saturday, and the Derry/Seattle outfit, last seen in public in the mid-nineties, didn't disappoint with their blistering guitar anthems 'Sensitize' and 'Last of the True Believers'.

However, Franz Ferdinand most certainly did. The new material from their forthcoming third album was good, but the bulk of their set plodded rather than sparkled.

Saturday's best show by a few country miles was the one-man electro freak show that is Dan Deacon. Baltimore's finest created the wildest euphoric atmosphere of the weekend.

And on a rare sunny Sunday afternoon, there can be nothing on earth better than some sun-kissed Jamaican reggae to banish the memory of another horrid summer and the legendary Congos delivered a short but extremely sweet set of sublime reggae-roots tunes.

But Sunday really belonged to two of the most intriguing enigmas in modern music, Nick Cave and Kevin Shields.

Cave's Grinderman are a stunning live proposition, and they kicked up a maelstrom of raw noise, letting loose on a delirious audience.

Straight after Grinderman, My Bloody Valentine took to the stage for the most hyped gig of the weekend. The opening trio of songs, 'I Only Said', 'When You Sleep' and 'When You Awake (You're Still in a Dream)' hammered home the transcendental live power of the Anglo-Irish quartet.

Their secret weapon is Dubliner drummer Colm O'Ciosoig, who pounded the kit with breathtaking intensity all the while looking not unlike Animal from 'The Muppet Show'.

The Sex Pistols, unfortunately, delivered nothing more than a text book lesson on why some bands should never reform. The ghastly karaoke of 'Anarchy in the UK' is something I hope I will be able to cleanse from memory. It was heartbreaking to hear such a great song ruined.

While 2008 wasn't quite as vintage a year for the Picnic as 2005, it was still a terrific weekend of eclectic fun.

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