Once again, it’s time to pack the wellies and suncream and head for Westmeath, and the glorious grounds of Ballinlough Castle, for this year’s Body & Soul festival. Always armed with a plethora of sights and sounds with which to enthral its patrons; Body & Soul has pulled some great acts together amidst the many peripheral nooks and crannies full of hidden gems. Those nooks are for you to discover yourself, but if you’re still undecided on who to catch we’ve rounded up some of our own favourites for your consideration…
Overhead, The Albatross
Saturday – Main Stage – 2.30pm
This six-piece are the first band to grace the main stage for the weekend as they bring their mammoth sound to the serene and natural Body & Soul amphitheatre. These guys absolutely knocked (the more than likely dirty) socks of our James in the Twisted Pepper only a few months ago (read here). On that night, the sound and atmosphere was too small to cater for a band that are quickly making a big name for themselves. If they can ever hurry up and give us an album to play to death, we’ll be happy. In the meantime, bring your appreciation-face along and enjoy Irish music at its most triumphant.
Saturday – Midnight Circus – 8pm
Kilkenny multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Hickey, better known as Rarely Seen Above Ground (R.S.A.G) is an old hand at the festival circuit by now. He plays alone with a drumkit while a backdrop displays the backing tracks being played, and it’s a fascinating show to watch as Hickey relentlessly punishes his toms. Tribal drums underpin everything else that’s going on with Hickey vocalising, and shifting from solid, locked-tight beats to pounding flourishes all around his kit.
Sunday – Main Stage – 8:15pm
Legendary Jamaican band The Congos are most well-known for their 1977 Lee Perry collaboration ‘Heart Of The Congos’. This is the chance to see a legendary group in an intimate setting, and we can’t imagine a better limb-loosener before the double whammy of Solange and PiL. Get yourself ready for some blissed-out beats down in front of the main stage.
Mikey & The Scallywags
Saturday (1.15am) & Sunday (11.15am) – Natashas Living Food
This band of folk rapscallions will take to the Natashas Living Food stage not once but twice over the weekend, so you really have no excuse not to head along. Mikey et al took part in our Coast to Coast event and played a gig (see here) in the most intimate of surroundings, and thoroughly made our ears crave more. Both of their performances take place very late so bring your favourite dancing boots/wellingtons along and enjoy this bundle of band joy.
Saturday – Main Stage – 6:15pm
London band Breton are an interesting prospect – styling themselves as a multimedia collective, they have released a string of EP’s since 2010 from their Breton Labs studio base, as well as last year’s ‘Other People’s Problems’ album. We don’t know exactly what the band’s live show will entail, coming as they do from film-making backgrounds, but that just makes it all the more curious.
Saturday – Midnight Circus – 6:30pm
Of course, if Breton aren’t your thing you can slip off to catch Galway man Daithí do wondrous things with loop pedals, synths, drum samples and a Kaoss Pad, all structured around his more organic fiddle playing. His live set is never less than entertaining, but this is meaningless if the music can’t back it up. In this case, it can.
Sunday – Main Stage – 9.45pm
Yes, we get it – it’s Jay-Z’s missus’ sister; if that makes any sense. But believe us, while still holding much of the talents of her elder sibling, Solange is an altogether different entity. Luckily, she’s an act with far more musical depth than the one who’s name we shall not utter. Also, you can enjoy a set that is far and away the most unique of the weekend so get on down and enjoy a mini-diva at her best.
Charles Bradley & His Extraordanaires
Saturday – Main Stage – 9:15pm
It’s going to be tough to top the soul highlight of Lee Fields & The Expressions at last year’s Body & Soul, but if any man is up to the task it’s Charles Bradley. He served his time as a James Brown impersonator before his discovery by Daptone Records; releasing two albums of original material since 2011. Expect an impassioned and foot-stomping set – we can’t wait.
Sunday – Main Stage – 4.30pm
Flying the flag for Irish lady singer-songwriters on the main stage for the weekend, Wallis Bird is no stranger to the festival circuit in Ireland. An act that will no doubt feel at home on the Body & Soul stage, Wallis Bird is an absolute guarantee to impress and thrill throughout her set, which is choc-a-block full of up-tempo dancing tunes. You’ll also get a sprinkling of heartfelt slowies too so make sure to get the highlighter out and mark this slot down.
Gypsy Rebel Rabble
Saturday (1.45am) & Sunday (9.45pm) – Natashas Living Food
Once again, it’s off to Natashas Living Food stage where you’ll get to check out this band not once but twice over the weekend. As per their own website: “Gypsy Rebel Rabble are a Dublin based Irish, bluegrass folk band with a reputation for energetic live shows” – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. The only thing we will add is that we have caught these guys countless times and have been blown away so don’t be surprised if you catch the Goldenplec crew sipping some forest mystery juice concoction down at both these sets.