Monday 11 December 2017

Review: Festivals - The Electric Picnic, Stradbally

Lily Allen performs on the main stage on the last day of the Electric Picnic
Lily Allen performs on the main stage on the last day of the Electric Picnic
Ed Power

Ed Power

There can be a bittersweet quality to the final day of a music festival. With only a few hours to go, the atmosphere turns autumnal as, somewhere at the back of your head, you begin to visualize the travails soon to be upon you: the trek home, the hangover, the reconnection with everyday life. The party is almost over: you can feel it slipping, like sand, through your fingers.

Just as well Electric Picnic Sunday saved the finest until the end. On the main stage, slacker icon Beck put on a masterclass. Jaunty in wide-rimmed hat, the 44-year-old delved into a era-spanning catalogue - lots of melancholy new stuff from his latest LP, but lashings of Gen X classics also.

Groovy in a tremendously nerdy fashion, Beck might have been the best showman you've seen all weekend. In a good way, it briefly felt you had fallen into a vortex and travelled back to 1993.

He was followed by OutKast, the Atlanta rap duo whose comeback is dogged by unkind reviews (their inaugural reunion show, at Coachella Festival was judged an indulgent flop). Four months on, Andre 3000 and Big Boi appear to have straightened some of the kinks -whatever you think of their music, it was impossible not to be a smitten by Andre's platinum dye-job (or be amused as it was reported their post-Picnic party was at Copper Face Jacks, land of non-ironic GAA jersey wearing).

Through a quirk of scheduling, day three spilled over with idiosyncratic female talent. Jenny Lewis was on early, showering Picnic-goers in glossy heartache; elsewhere Sinead O'Connor, Laura Mvula and St Vincent put in committed appearances (24 hours previously there was a sense of disaster averted as queen of early '80s naff Bonnie Tyler was required to delay her turn due to a power failure - the tent of course sponsored by an energy company).

Persisting with the baffling giant baby bottles backdrop that was the talking point coming out of her Glastonbury, back on the main stage Lily Allen (left) was slight and sweet, more likeable than you expected (her charisma effortlessly overshadowed often threadbare songs)

As night closed in, the veteran music lover may have found themselves in the jaws of a dilemma. Should they sample ever-green instrumentalists Mogwai? Or breath deeply of the balmy melodies of Slowdive, elusive flag bearers for the early '90s 'shoe-gaze' movement? If opting for the latter, you may have been surprised to see the band acknowledging the clash by donning Mogwai t-shirts (apparently Mogwai likewise wore Slowdive merchandise). It was a glimmer of humour in a performance that otherwise vibrated with tremendous pathos: a brooding end to a memorable weekend.

Irish Independent

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