Barn Dance at Glendalough House Estate, April 18th 2014

Glendalough House Estate played host to the seventh annual Barn Dance on Good Friday with five thousand revellers descending on the venue for the day of music and arts. Reports leading up to the event had suggested Avondale was to stage the mini festival but organisers surprised everyone with the idyllic Wicklow setting. Despite the confusion over the location and some haphazard organisation regarding buses, the festival proved a resounding success, aided in no small part by the glorious weather and the festivals anti-prohibition BYOB policy.

While Friday’s line up lacks any ‘massive’ acts, there is still plenty to appreciate with the festival providing a fine mix of indie and electro music over five stages. What’s more, the Irish music scene is very well represented with the majority of acts being promising up and coming home grown talent. Come On Live Long certainly meet that description with the indie five-piece treating the Courtyard stage to an enjoyable set list consisting of soulful, smooth folk music. GoldenPlec have been championing this band for some time now and  the plaudits are deserved –  a must see act on the festival circuit this summer.

Over on the Garden Stage Hermitage Green draw a sizeable crowd. Not a surprise, given they’ve upgraded to playing venues as big as The Academy. The band do little to justify their recent success though with an uninspiring performance. It’s telling that a cover song, Teardrop by Massive Attack, is the best thing about their set, with their original material sounding like Mumford & Sons-lite. They are followed by The Minutes who are more impressive, delivering a set of old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. They have a new album coming out in the next couple of weeks and based on the material played, it should be well worth a listen. Fans of ’70s rock a la T.Rex should definitely take note.

It wouldn’t be a festival without at least one novelty act and Smash Hits are just that. Delivering a set list that seems to consist solely of ’90s one-hit wonders the band are shamelessly cheesy and are about as far from cutting edge as you can get but they are the perfect party band. The good time vibes continue back over at the Courtyard stage with the excellent Booka Brass Band. Again cover versions are the order of the day with the seven-piece New Orleans-style brass band giving rousing renditions of Beyonce’s Crazy In Love, Pharrell’s latest single Happy and best of all New Order’s Blue Monday. As fun a band as you’ll see, these lads are the highlight of the day.

The Barley Mob are given the unenviable task of following the Booka Brass Band but they prove more than worthy headliners of The Courtyard offering a refreshing change of pace with their Dublin flavoured brand of reggae. Loaded with feel good vibes and chilled out rhythms it is the perfect soundtrack to close out the night.

Irish music festivals have taken a bit of a battering in the press over the last few years with a lot of focus on the behaviour of concert goers. With pubs, clubs and off-licences closed across the country there was always the worry this event could have attracted the same undesirable crowd. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. There was a great atmosphere throughout the day and the crowd was reasonably well behaved too. It certainly represented a victory for the Irish music festivals in a weekend that has seen Oxegen fall to the wayside. Let’s hope it returns for an eighth instalment next year as this festival has become the place to be on Good Friday.