On paper Friday’s line-up looked the weakest of the weekend. Indeed, it seemed the majority had made the journey out to Marley Park solely to see Hozier. There was, however, no shortage of international talent to justify the ticket price; with SBTRKT on hand to provide the Irishman with stiff competition, putting in arguably the strongest set of the weekend headlining the Heineken Tent.
Despite clouds threatening all day, the sun is out to compliment Metronomy’s pleasant, airy synth-pop. There are few songs likely to ease you into a summer’s evening of music as capably as The Look, and the band are well aware of this, giving it an early outing and loosening up weary limbs in the process. Cuts from 2014’s ‘Love Letters’ are beautifully executed and showcase the band’s talent for dreamy keys and drum clicks.
The Heineken tent crowd receives Todd Terje with about as much gusto as they can muster at 8pm as the sun shines brightly outside. However, the DJ doesn’t seem too bothered by any of it, slamming away alone on stage with little interest in or awareness of the crowd below. Enthusiasm is not lacking, but a ¾ full tent is not able to match the energy of the music, and a lack of stimulation from the man on stage doesn’t help things.
SBTRKT’s set is the musical equivalent of being tossed in a bass drum and thrown down a moderately sized waterfall. When you get to the end you’re a bit shaken and a bit wet, but you’ve had quite a good time along the way.
The producer and his band bounce energetically about the stage, with Aaron Jerome’s unmistakable mask acting as the centrepiece as he orchestrates things from behind a desk. A packed tent encloses the sound, allowing the bass and drums to reverberate in the bodies that flood the stage.
While they are unafraid to dip into their catalogue of hits, it hardly seems to matter. It’s all about the energy of the performance and consistency of Jerome’s music; each song is a fantastic blend of powerful bass and melody. The bassy buzz of New Dorp, New York still resonates in the chest hours, even days, after the set ends.
A true Dublin fairytale; Andrew ‘Hozier’ Byrne and his band play to a 20,000 plus crowd at the main stage of a festival where one year previous he had been scrubbing the floor of the same stage in the early afternoon. Oh the difference a year can make. This year Hozier is the belle of the ball; the biggest draw on Friday evening.
There is no doubt that this represents a particularly sweet moment for him, and a fantastic reception from the crowd leaves him rosy-cheeked. His sound is large and impressive; his powerful vocals filling the park, almost piercing SBTRKT’s tent hundreds of metres away.
The set is laden with hits from his début album, but a tepid, cringe-inducing rendition of Ariana Grande’s Problem puts a lame but soulful spin on the bubbly pop tune. Some of his bluesy rock feels a bit slow-moving for a festival headlining set, but for the most part, Hozier delivers exactly what his music promises. Takes Me To Church leaves the audience in convulsions of joy and the amiable singer has thousands serenading a bandmate with Happy Birthday, before culminating with a delightful sing-along of Work Song.