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Electric Picnic Festival at Stradbally Estate, Laois on August 30th – September 1st 2013

All too soon it was Day Three at Electric Picnic, and although weary from the round-the-clock routine of drinking, eating, dancing sleeping, and engaging in various acts of revelry, the crowds are no less up for it than they were on Friday afternoon. The campsite is looking well lived-in at this stage of the weekend, and the nooks and crannies of the site well-explored, so it is with an air of seasoned veterans that we make our way in for the last hurrah. Here are a few of our top picks from the final day of the Picnic’s tenth birthday…

Black Uhuru

Last year it was Lee Perry and Max Romeo who brought the sunshine reggae to the main stage on Sunday. This year it’s the turn of Black Uhuru, and as our guide into this set from the Jamaican legends clutches a flag and leads the crowd in a call and response warm-up, the final day revellers are indeed ready for some roots rock reggae. Rasta proclamations abound before he wanders backstage to introduce Black Uhuru; Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, Andrew Bees, and Kaye Starr. Bees takes lead on the first batch, beginning the set proper with What Is Life. The band’s mainstay since the beginning, Derrick Simpson, then takes over for Emotional Slaughter and both men stalk the stage as Starr stands stock still at the mic. The swaying, sated crowd join on vocals for General Penitentiary as the snare gets more insistent leading to the denoument –  Simson and Starr exit, followed by Bees, and the band bring to a close a sun-speckled set of first class roots. JMD

Noah & The Whale

When the four guys from Noah & The Whale take to the stage, it’s obvious that this is to be a classy affair. Dressed in black suits,  black ties and black sunglasses, they’re clearly ready for action. Opening with the popular single Tonight’s The Kinda Night, the guys are on the ball from start to finish. Although a bit reserved, each tune is delivered with a certain charm and charisma. Give It All Back and LIFEGOESON are total popfests, bursting with fun, while Give a Little Love is a quieter and more reflective experience. With all angles covered, Noah & The Whale provide the perfect easy going tunes for a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine. AG

Kodaline

A huge crowd has gathered for Ireland’s golden boys Kodaline ahead of their Sunday evening set. Opening with Talk from the debut album, it quickly becomes abundantly clear just how big these guys have become in the last year. This notion is confirmed when the first few notes of High Hopes emerge from the stage, prompting a wave of uncontrollable excitement from the crowd, with all pitching in vocally for the entirety. Although a little static onstage, Kodaline have developed a very polished performance, with some cracking singles to win over any crowd. Love Like This has a very similar effect to High Hopes in encouraging frenzy, and the appearance of a mandolin adds a nice dimension to their classic guitar, bass and drum combo. Finishing up with their first huge hit All I Want, Kodaline end on a high, with the whole crowd behind them one hundred percent. AG

Johnny Marr

They’re out in force for Johnny Marr in the Electric Arena as he runs through a set heavy with material from his latest album ‘The Messenger’. He plays up the guitar hero role with some guitar brandishing and stage strutting, and as good as the new material sounds live, it’s as if Marr’s peppering of the set with Smiths classics are almost a reward for the crowd’s attention. It’s all well received, but Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before, a snappy Bigmouth Strikes Again, How Soon Is Now and the kiss-off of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out are the ones that make the emotional connection. The latter song sees Marr pull one of the most special moments of the festival out of the bag, making grown men claim that there’s only something in their eye, in a unifying, spine-tingling mass rendering. As the backdrop makes clear, though, this is the Johnny Marr show, and a blistering I Fought The Law gets closer to what he’s trying to achieve with ‘The Messenger’ than anything in his back catalogue. JMD

Warpaint

After extensive technical difficulties, Warpaint eventually manage to get going in Electric Arena. With a mixture of old and new tunes on offer, they provide lots to like. Bees sees the band living up to their sultry reputation, while Undertow sees the crowd engage a little more with the band through having a bit of a boogie. Warpaint aren’t the most talkative band, saying little through their set, except for telling the crowd that they can expect some new tunes, all of which will be something for Warpaint fans to eagerly await. However, their music accomplishes more than any stage banter could, with the crowd clearly very much enjoying the musical offering. Warpaint may not have provided the most exciting sets of the evening, but they do provide one of the more musically entrancing of the weekend. AG

King Kong Company

A siren tone rises over the PA as Waterford’s King Kong Company get off to a downright rockin’ start, joined by an ecstatic dancer in an ape mask. The she-ape takes on a more glamorous appearance with afro and sparkling top for Song 2, as the band are joined by a female singer who unleashes a deep, strong and unexpected vocal atop this danced-up version. The percussionist comes out front on trombone to form part of the triple-horn attack, with the band heading up some ska-tinged fun, and the packed out Body & Soul main stage rock the funk out. The ordinarily bizarre sight of a girl in a red tracksuit, busting out dance moves with a cardboard box on her head, makes perfect sense in this context. The whole band come to the front for the finale, the crowd jump in unison, the drummer unleashes a flurry of bongo – if this isn’t the most rowdy, rocking, rollicking, ruckus-raising party at the Picnic then this reviewer will be a monkey’s uncle. JMD

The Knife

We weren’t really sure what to expect from The Knife’s ‘Shaking The Habitual’ show; we certainly weren’t prepared for the cabaret that unfurled in an astonishing flurry of activity before our eyes. The Swedish duo are joined by an array of performers, dressed in hooded robes and playing an assortment of eclectic instruments – dominating the stage is a large beam that elicits all manner of ambient drones and distorted whines, as the band dole out a tribal beat. The choreography is outrageous from the off – if hands aren’t on percussion they’re pulling martial arts style dance moves. The band disrobe to engage in synchronised, balletic and theatrical dancing, and from here on the music becomes secondary, almost overwhelmed, by the visual feast onstage. Instruments have been completely eschewed, until Andersson appears backed by an ornately framed screen to sing, and a solo piano section follows. The kinetic parade continues in this vein, as folk gaze on in borderline disbelief. It must surely rank as the most involved performance of the festival – wildly impressive in its execution, even if the music takes a back seat. JMD

David Byrne and St Vincent

As good a show as it is, it’s hard to imagine the audience having as much fun watching David Byrne and St Vincent as the duo have performing. Accompanied by a lively brass section, the former Talking Heads frontman and the diminutive songstress dance eccentrically around the stage between songs, exchanging the spotlight as they alternate between lead vocals for songs from each of their respective back catalogues, and teaming up for a selection of tracks from their collaborative album ‘Love This Giant’. The whole thing feels like stumbling uninvited upon some extravagant ballroom soiree. The show segues from moments of pure enchantment (St Vincent’s solo rendition of Cheerleader), to pure unbound weirdness (Byrne dancing crazily around a theremin on Northern Lights) before culminating in the dazzling Burning Down The House and Road to Nowhere. Returning to a field in Stradbally isn’t easy after that. BOR

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand give it socks from the second they hit the stage. Their particular brand of music is well suited to the Sunday night crowd at EP, who clearly need a good rousing. And a good rousing is exactly what Franz Ferdinand give them. Woken up by such classics as Michael and This Fire, the audience are also treated to a selection of tracks from their new album ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions’ such as single Right Action.  The classic single Take Me Out is a huge success, proving that the classic singles from the band are just as popular as they ever were. Franz Ferdinand give it their all, and the crowd gives it back to them, each feeding off the other, and helping to bring Sunday to a close in the way it was always intended at Electric Picnic – with some good, solid indie rock tunes, a bit of a dance, and a cracking time. AG

Jerry Fish

The Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow tent is packed with late-night revellers as the man himself leads the willing crowd in this feelgood, life-affirming shindig. Get Yourself Happy sees him thump his chest in time with Jeremy Hickey’s (RSAG) heartbeat drum pulse, coming into the crowd who take the song for themselves and continue the singing. He encourages the crowd to hug and/or kiss their neighbour. Or get naked. The former wins out in this instance. “I was really worried this would all fall to shit” riffs Fish, to comedy “ahhhs” from the crowd. He then ropes the security man – who gamely joins the fun – into the act, getting him onstage and appropriating his hi-viz. The affirmation of Life Is Sweet’s “It’s alright” is repeated many a time, the band are joined by a hula hoop dancer Shir Madness, and one poor sod is singled out for having his arms folded. You don’t get away with that at a Jerry Fish gig – the atmosphere is that of a big ol’ reunion of old friends, such is the skill with which Fish ropes everyone into his theatre of the absurd, and it’s one we’ll gladly join again. JMD

Electric Picnic Sunday Photo Gallery

Photos: Yan Burke
 

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