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ELECTRIC DR EAMS AT STRADBALLY: IRELAND's C OOLEST PICNIC is back

Has it really been 10 years? It looks that way. With just two weeks to go before the Electric Picnic kick-starts a new decade in the sun, it's worth remembering that, back when it made its debut in 2004, Ireland's premier music and arts festival was just a one-day event, featuring a small army of button-pushers (Groove Armada) and spacey alt-rockers (Super Furry Animals).

On Friday August 29, an estimated 41,000 punters will be packing up their tents and making their way to Stradbally Estate, Co Laois for a long weekend of vintage goldies, pop favourites and hipster goodies. That's progress.

There's a whole lot of fun to be had, too, for comedy-seekers, poets, literary types and food lovers, but for now, let's talk tunes. And this year's line-up is quite tasty, indeed.

2014's shindig marks the long-awaited comeback of Atlanta hip-hop duo, Outkast. True, it's been years since Andre 3000 and Big Boi released an album, but can you imagine how the wonderful Hey Ya! is going to sound on that main stage at the end of the month? Oh, there will be fun.

The genre-spanning king of cool, Beck is also coming out of hibernation for a rare Irish visit, as are British trip hop pioneers Portishead.

Further on down the bill, however, is where the real magic begins. Debbie Harry turned 69 last month, but anyone who has had the pleasure of witnessing the iconic Blondie on their numerous visits to the capital in recent years will know that Debbie and chums still pack a powerful punch.

Similarly, the Pet Shop Boys and Simple Minds should please punters of a certain age, but the real gem in the mix has to be the festival return of Ringsend rock trio, The Blades. Paul Cleary and the gang played their first gig in 27 years at the Olympia last Christmas, and boy, was it emotional. Rockin', too.

Elsewhere, we have the stunning St Vincent (dancing shoes on for that one), the fabulous Chic, featuring Nile Rodgers (that dude can't get enough of us, pictured above), and a couple of chart favourites in the form of Scottish golden boy, Paolo Nutini, who's certainly rediscovered his groove of late, and Lily Allen (be sure to bring the hits, Lily, above right).

Oh, and Sinead O'Connor is bringing her critically-acclaimed new album to the great outdoors. Happy days. Happy Picnicking

The Electric Picnic takes place at Stradbally Estate, Co. Laois, August 29 - 31. Tickets are sold out.

Ten Picnic memories…

1. Arcade Fire (2005): Are you one of the many thousands who claim to have witnessed the 
Canadian outfit's game-changing Irish festival debut? Some fans called it a religious experience. 


2. My Bloody Valentine (2008): 'Deafening' is an understatement. A few folks walked away from this late-night, end-of-weekend display with hearing problems for the rest of the week. Front man Kevin Shields must have been pleased.

3. John Lydon: Mr. Rotten headlined the main stage in '08 with the Sex Pistols. Two years later, he returned with the far superior Public Image Ltd. Oh, and he also mooned us 
during the Pistols' set. Lovely.

4. The Walkmen (2009): We'll never forget stumbling across this raucous, American indie-rock five-piece on the Cosby Stage. We were instantly hooked.

5. Madness (2009): Suggs and his merry band of ska merchants, performing It Must Be Love in the middle of a field? A joyous occasion, indeed. Nice suits, too.

6. The Flaming Lips (2009): Psychedelic warrior Wayne Coyne's trademark, man-in-a-bubble routine has been done to death at this stage, but the Lips' jam-packed Electric Arena set that year was pretty darn spectacular.

7. The Frames (2010): Only because Glen Hansard and his buddies hadn't played together in ages. Oh, and remember those giant Styrofoam letters (F-S) unleashed upon the crowd? We all took a piece home, prompting the flame-haired chief to scold us for "breaking up" his band.

8. The Cure (2012): A greatest-hits set (and then some), Robert Smith's band played for three hours on the main stage. Yes, it dragged on, but Friday I'm in Love sure did sound glorious under the stars…

9. The National (2010): Incredible performance, as always. Y'know, despite the horizontal rain. Yep, the Brooklyn boys brought on a storm that year. And we didn't care.

10. Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters (2013): Oh my. What an astonishing feat of musicality, with a few Zeppelin tunes in the mix, too. Forget Bjork and Arctic Monkeys; Plant's exquisite, sunset stretch was the highlight last year.


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