Review: Electric Picnic 2012 – SundayTweet
As the weekend drew to a close, James Hendicott and Ros Madigan attempted to wipe away the tears as the thought of leaving the magical Electric Picnic was fast becoming a reality, just before the tears set in, they managed to pen their thoughts on day three of Electric Picnic:
The Dublin Gospel Choir (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)
Decked out in full robe attire, The Dublin Gospel Choir take to the main stage at the pain-killer hour of 1 o’clock. The weekend woes that are felt by most at this delicate time seem to have bypassed the choir as they rip-roar through a set comprised of clever and engaging covers. Despite the early witching/hangover hour, the main stage is packed as everyone chooses to lay down and enjoy the gospel gang under blue skies. Don’t believe us? Then take a look at this video taken by one of the choir on stage during the excellent Somebody To Love. The usual Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Bridge Over Troubled Water give the crowd that classic choir feeling, but it’s with songs like the David Guetta and Sia chart topper Titanium and Arcade Fire’s Wake Up, that really deserve the tasty appreciation nods. The perfect start to one of the hottest days in recent Electric Picnic memory. RM
Lee Scratch Perry (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)
If there’s a place for reggae in festivals – and there certainly is – it would be main stage in the early-afternoon sun, ideally during the Sunday hangover. Good planning, Electric Picnic. Jamaican legend Lee Scratch Perry has an accent so thick with Caribbean soul we’re struggling to pick out a word he’s saying (from what we can gather he certainly likes talking about war, though whether he’s advocating it or slamming it we’d struggle to tell you), but when the band open up in song, that twang just sounds like a dose of sunshine. For a man who played a key role in the very development of his genre, Perry’s clearly no longer quite at his peak at 76, but as far as hangover-clearing moments of laid-back pleasure go, it’s hard to argue with this, especially with a beer in one hand, collapsed on the grass and feeling the excess of the previous night’s Forest Stage wash away. Pure sunshine music. JH
Bombay Bicycle Club (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
The main stage really was the biggest winner of all on day 3 as act after act provided the perfect climax to the weekend of frolics and sun. Bombay Bicycle Club were next up to perform to the throngs of sunburnt punters who had made the floor their home for the afternoon. It was hard to see how BBC would translate to the main stage before the gig began but we shouldn’t have worried as the London-based band thrilled and glided through the best easy listening set of the weekend. Jack Steadman, lead vocalist, took the mantle of king-pin within the band to deliver a rousing performance throughout their 1 hour set.
Always Like This and Lights Out, Words Gone showcase the immense talent that these guys hold and leaves everyone kicking themselves as to why they didn’t attend the Olympia Theatre gig during the year. Shuffle with that infectious hook that surely takes influence from All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem proves the big hit of the set as the song proves the perfect accompaniment to the warm rays shining down upon Stradbally. The perfect soundtrack to the sun-cream drenched Electric Picnic weekend. RM
Ham Sandwich (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
We hear of Ham Sandwich’s ‘secret’ Body ‘N Soul plans – the Earth Stage on Sunday afternoon – only a few minutes before they’re due to kick off, and arrive just in time to see the Meath natives set up behind a quite shockingly awful comedian. Tucked beneath the undergrowth of a stage that still has birds flying in and out of its roof, and strumming through acoustic hits with a selection of Ham Sandwich uber-fans seems like the perfect festival end for the group: Carry The Meek, The Naturist and a couple of cover songs get several hundred on their feet singing along, but it’s the usual set high of Ants that‘ll go down as one of the moments of the festival.
Lead singer Niamh’s tiny little sister has been sat in the front row for the entire show, and joins her nervously on the mic, before delivering the hit single with all the power her elder sibbling’s become known for. There are eyes as far back as the stage can be seen from, and further, getting in on the act of a truly brilliantly duet of a chorus. We’d been hearing good stuff all weekend, as Ham Sandwich flitted from stage to stage energizing the festival with confetti cannons and touching melody. It’s hard to imagine even the late-night Salty Dog set got close to this. JH
Lianne La Havas (★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆)
Lianne La Havas has come quite a long way from playing The Sugar Club earlier in the year to the Electric Arena at Electric Picnic, only to later in the year perform at The Olympia Theatre. Not a bad upgrade in venues in the space of 6 months. For now, it was time for her to impress the Stradbally based crowd for the day. The set began as the set would go on – boring.
Admittedly, it was a big step up playing what is essentially the second biggest stage at Electric Picnic. Unfortunately, La Havas seemed to get swallowed up by the size of the occasion. The songs never quite took off and seemed to peter out before they had even begun. She still has not outgrown the intimate surroundings from which she appears to be most comfortable. Her talent is unquestionable and a number of songs hint at promise but this was not translated on the day which is a disappointment for the promising soulful folk singer from London. RM
Perfume Genius (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)
Mike Hadreas – better known as Perfume Genius – is an unlikely pop star. Working through dark, snails-pace melodies on his keyboard, often solo, he emphasizes an immaculate voice, and has his minimal crowd in eyes-closed, soak-it-up mode. The live reproduction admittedly, is brilliant, adding flourishes along the way and full of that minimalist beauty.
What Perfume Genius entirely lacks is stage presence: he seems notably uncomfortable throughout, apologizing several times for his music being slow and generally looking a little like he’d prefer it if he were playing in his own living room. Such beauty shouldn’t be confined, but it’s also diminished somewhat by such a lack of recognition of his own talents, and after a while becomes somewhat difficult to watch. That’s a real shame, as this has the potential to be something really special. JH
Of Monsters and Men (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
Of Monsters and Men have crept up from the depths of the unknown to become one of the hottest properties around. The folk lashings contained on debut album ‘My Head Is An Animal’ have catapulted the band into festivals lineups all around the world. Not to mention launching them straight to the top of the Irish album charts. This set would turn out to be one of the most jammed gigs of the whole weekend. Within moments of them taking to the stage, it was darn next to impossible to gain entry to the Crawdaddy tent. Soon, it would become apparent as to why people are lavishing so much praise upon this pack of Icelandic strangers.
Immediate comparisons can be made to Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in the delivery of this brand of new-folk but it fortunately stays that little bit different as to not be deemed a copy. Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, the bands dainty and charismatic lead singer provides a unique, if sometimes off-key, vocal that demands attention. The King and Lionheart provides a big reaction from the crowd until Little Talks, the recent mega hit sends the crowd into an hysteria based mood unrivaled by all other events over the weekend. Little Talks fast becomes the standout song and moment over the whole weekend which will live long in the memory as the thousands of Irish in attendance eagerly await the announcement of a solo headline show. (*Update* – They have since announced a headline show at The Olympia Theatre – read here) Until then, we’ll all be humming - ”da da da da da da da daaaa… Hey!”. RM
James Murphy – DJ Set (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
With ‘Shut Up and Play The Hits’ gathering international acclaim, former LCD Soundsystem frontman might have left his prodigious band behind, but he’s never been all that far from the spotlight. So much so, in fact, that The Little Big Tent is heaving on his arrival, which soon results in the only case of ‘one in one out’ we saw on a major stage over the entire weekend. Murphy, of course, was never going to relate his set to ‘that band’, but he does make for a predictably impressive DJ, too.
What lifts Murphy is his ear for a clever change of pace; how he whips a simple backing beat into a complex swirl of tribal noise or euphoric percussion with a quick flick of his wrist, and the entire tent bounces happily in unison. It’s not the reception that Murphy received last time he was over – a truly sensational tent-wide rave to LCD Soundsystem’s monstrous second-stage performance – but it was never going to be. The whole point of saying goodbye was that he would be different, and in turning his hand to lyric-less beats, he is just that. At least he’s still utterly immaculate. JH
Elbow (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)
Elbow always seem to be that band you never quite want to miss in a festival surrounding. They hold a collection of songs that were made for open air summer festivals and not just for BBC montage sequences. Either way, they always rank highly up most people’s ’must-see band’ lists at festivals. So the blend of Elbow on the main stage at Electric Picnic was all too tempting as they filled the field as far a the eye could see.
What you get with Elbow is a catalogue of songs with big euphoric chorus and sing along refrains, couple that with one of the nicest and down to earth lead singers in the business in Guy Harvey and you’re on to a winner… or so it would seem. The problem with Elbow with all their good points is that every one of their gigs at festivals is identical to one another with the same crowd interaction at each show. The set list has rarely changed and seen very little additions since the release of ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ back in 2008. My advice, if you have seen them more than once – steer clear and experience something new. If you have yet to see them – head along and revel in the euphoria that is One Day Like This. RM
Fatoumata Diawara (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
One of the highlights of Electric Picnic always comes in the outlying tents, and in the artists we couldn’t normally hope to see in Ireland. Fatoumata Diawara fits this category: a folk singer from the Ivory Coast who’s repute has grown notably in the English-speaking world (she sings predominantly in French) through her association with Blur/ Gorillaz man Damon Albarn’s African projects. Dressed in colourful hippie-chic and smiling uncontrollably throughout her set, Fatou’s style focused on laid-back ballads backed with an array of instrumentation unfamiliar to us, but built around her electro-acoustic. It’s bubbly, full of toned-down melody and enthralling in its assorted changes of direction. Well worth a look. JH
The Killers (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
It might have been over half a decade since they’ve released a song of any real status (and even then it was relentlessly ripped apart, though that Human is in fact a Hunter S Thompson reference makes it somewhat less stupid than widely assumed), but what’s of little doubt is that the Las Vegas outfit have always had a sense of the big time. Today, with a crowd bouncing euphorically through large chunks of ‘Hot Fuss’, and even the new tracks sounding more pleasingly anthemic and pounding live, they prove they’re still up to the task.
For a headliner, this is short and sweet: an hour and a half of slamming melody and poppy hooks, with singles nicely spread through the set and a festival-themed emphasis on the old and successful. There’s the obvious: Mr. Brightside, Somebody Told Me, All These Things That I’ve Done and Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine are the huge sing-alongs they always were, delivered confidently, and backed up with an impressive pop-rock selection of back up tracks that has a tendency to slip through our consciousness. When You Were Young sounds like a disaffected anthem turned charming; Read My Mind comes across cleverly plodding against the barrage of riffs, and the aforementioned Human has shapes flying.
Daytrippers aside, The Killers weren’t a hugely popular choice for headliner. ‘Too poppy” seemed the general consensus a few months back, but what Electric Picnic needs above all else are bands that show up and put on something memorable. On the Saturday night, a band on many people’s wish list failed spectacularly to do so. The less favoured Nevadans, on the other hand, might be the infectious cheese-fest of the modern-day rock scene, but they absolutely nail it. JH