Day two in the All Together Now and it’s a scorcher, hotter perhaps than the chorus to Hot Hot Hot by The Cure. Many of the ice-cream vendors missed a trick by not offering the cold delicacy as a breakfast option (fools) but luckily there were plenty of other options including a Waterford Blaa which received Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status from the EU in 2015. And the ‘when in Rome’ festival spirit insured that Blaaginities were lost left, right and centre across the weekend – expect massive queues in 2019 for the Blaa, cause the secrets out.
Netflix improv star and man of a thousand voices, Reggie Watts, delivered an astounding performance to an early afternoon crowd on the Bandstand. Many acts struggle with local references when they come to Ireland, stumbling through half-learned Irish phrases with good intentions – we’re looking at you Mick Jagger – but not Reggie Watts. Watts built his entire set on Ireland and nailed each and every reference with sarcasm and stoic humour, and by the end of it he had a sizeable crowd singing “Gardai, not Garda” a refrain that could be heard into the wee small hours and through the next day. Watts took aim at the Irish government, the pope’s visit, and the housing crisis with vicious accuracy and a friendly wit that said “you’re fucked, but I’m on your side”.
The Bootleg Beatles
It’s as much a testament to the enduring appeal of The Beatles as it is to the prowess of the reproductions that 50+ years on these songs still have the power to get people onto their feet and dance and sing along. The Bootleg Beatles know what they are doing, both in terms of what the people want to hear and how to reproduce the songs perfectly. This is theatrical performance with costume changes, Liverpudlian accents and in-jokes that chart the career of The Beatles, and it’s perfect fare for warming up the main stage crowd on a sunny afternoon. It was great to see families up dancing and kids being indoctrinated into the church of Ringo, George, John, and Paul.
Richie Egan and Co. returned to Ireland for their first performance in around two years, armed with a new collection of songs which will no doubt irk Thomas Walsh of Pugwash when they invariably get nominated for the Choice Music Prize ahead of his own. Unusually for Jape, they were clearly nervous about introducing the new material and the nerves will no doubt have been strained by intermittent sound and equipment issues. Commencing with two new instrumentals under the circumstances probably wasn’t the wisest move in retrospect, but things picked up once Egan took up the bass and ran through the band’s back catalogue. Of the new material, European Da was the standout, while new single Yeah was well received, but the girth of the set was found in tracks such as Metamorphosis and an extended version of I was A Man dedicated to Dublin Oldschool.
Róisín Murphy has been in the limelight recently for less than positive reasons due to her exasperated Twitter commentary on the state of the arts which left many concerned for her state of mind. Thankfully, Murphy more than justified her worth and pedigree as an artist with a powerhouse performance which was hands down the highlight of the festival. Perpetual motion on stage, Murphy swaggered her way through umpteen costume changes with staggering ease, never missing the opportunity to add a visual aid to her intricate musical compositions. Vocally, Murphy is imperious, her ethereal voice pitch-perfect throughought the hour-long set. Her live band are put through their paces too, constantly switching instruments and genres. Murphy kicked things off with Innocence and Plaything, tracks that inspired her to bare her soul on Twitter. Like and All My Dreams would follow mid-set, all sitting comfortably alongside Murphy’s better- known solo material such as You Know Me Better and Overpowered .
Murphy finished with a double shot of Moloko in the form of Forever More and Sing It Back, the latter musically unrecognisable from the original dancefloor filler. But who could argue with Murphy’s impetus to rework her past glories when it works so well?
God bless Mura Masa but following Róisín Murphy’s mic drop performance was an unenviable task. Subsequently, his brand of simple and safe summery vibes felt like a bit more basic than they normally would in her wake. That said there’s nothing wrong with safe and simple, and Mura Masa does it with aplomb. The Channel Islander mixes live drums with processed beats, samples, and live keys. He was clearly enjoying himself on guitar too, leaving singer Fliss to be the focal point for much of the show. His self-titled 2017 album was full of female heavy-hitters such as Charlie XCX, Nao, Christine and the Queens, and our very own Cosha (formerly known as Bonzai); big shoes for Fliss to fill, but she more than held her own and based on this performance she is deserving of a much bigger profile in her own right.
The artist formerly known as Mos Def delivered a masterclass in old school flow on the Something Kind of Wonderful stage. It is 9 years since he released anything of real substance, his delayed album quickly becoming the Chinese Democracy of hip hop as behind the scenes contractual disputes and his muted retirement from music ferment. He’s still playing live though, so who knows what’s actually up, but tonight the former heir apparent to hi-hop reminded us that he still has the goods on stage at least. Rolling back the years in a gangsta hat, Bay took to the stage backed with just one DJ ready to get down with no delay, as the Beastie Boys used to say.
Dexy’s main man brought All Together Now to Northern Soul Boogie Wonderland with a late night set on the Bandstand. Along with forgotten classics from his personal collection we were treated to Rowland’s velvet voice when he felt inspired to sing along from time to time. It’s great to see someone still so in love with music after such a lengthy career, and he clearly still gets off on making people dance. A double spin of Groove is in the Heart – second time with Rowland on vocals – was an unexpected moment of bliss. Why not flaunt it if you’ve still got it at 2am?