Longitude Festival 2013 at Marlay park on 26th – 28th June 2013
It’s been a much anticipated addition to the summer festival list, but Longitude finally appeared on a glorious weekend in Marlay Park for its inaugural outing. The setting is somewhat reminiscent of Body & Soul, with the more expansive main stage area giving way to the forested pathways leading to the Woodlands Stage, The Red Bull Music Academy stage and the carnival vibe of the Dirty Old Town Speakeasy marquee. Over the gentle hill and past the banging Bacardi area lies the Heineken Stage, the second, dancier main area. Between these five venues an array of acts plied their wares, while punters soaked up the sun with delight and the six euro pints with resigned acceptance. We sent Ros and Justin off to check out the acts over the weekend, here’s how Friday looked…
SOAK takes to the Woodlands Stage at early doors on Friday in the most impractical costume of the weekend, decked head to toe in a furry suit – “I’m SOAK, but today I’m a fox…or a kangaroo.” She kicks off with Blood, interspersing her set with some new material, her strong vocal the abiding sonic over the gentle, picked guitar work. Snow is a fine example of this, although she suggests we illegally download it rather than buy the badly recorded iTunes version. The singer has an amiable rapport with the reclining crowd, and it’s funny to watch how people simply collapse onto the cool grass of the marquee as they enter, even before the music has started. This may well be heat exhaustion, but we prefer to think it’s because it’s the perfect way to enjoy SOAK’s chilled out vocal accompaniment.
Jake Bugg brings a reggae tinge to the main stage with his opening salve, but from here on it’s a set that takes in folk, country rock, blues and a bit of Crazy Horse style rockin’ out for good measure. Bugg seems to have a loyal following, judging by the screams from the female fans down front, but it’s all a bit same-y and derivative, phoning in Dylan, Willie Mason…Lee Mavers even. Songs tend to inevitably break out into the same bass drum-driven stomp, but the gig does briefly step out of its comfort zone when Bugg switches to electric guitar. This momentum is halted as the band leaves him for a lone rendering of Broken, but the crowd respond both to this and particularly to a following Two Fingers. Funnily enough, it’s his snappy cover of Neil Young’s Hey Hey My My that garners the least interest from the crowd in what is ultimately a solid, if unremarkable, gig.
After missing Matt play by mere seconds on The Phantom Green stage earlier in the day, we sought out the Woodlands stage nice and steadfast for his full-set. As trouble and confusion brewed on the side of the stage as to whether the stage is ready to go, the monitor engineer reluctantly gives the go-ahead as Matt glides (as if carried by the fawning crowd) to the stage to the sound of polite applause. Souls A’fire begins with a clean Seasick Steve’esque guitar vibe before the opening line of “Oh he got poison in his lungs” instantly grabs the crowd’s attention, leaving everyone to double check the stage to find this incredible power thrusted from the larynx of Matt Corby. His stunning voice contains the best lifts and lilts of Rory Gallagher and Jeff Buckley. Resolution showcases his impressively tight backing unit that builds slow with a type of flow that befits a seasoned session band. It then grows as Matt reaches silly notes as he screeches (beautifully) and roars (sweetly) to the songs crescendo, accumulating in a four person-strong drumming marathon. Brother, as imagined, stands out as not only one of the moments of the day, but as one for the whole weekend. The pitch changes, vocal runs, tempo-prancing and emotion-tinged lyrics make this a spectacle to behold. Having only released three short EP’s to date, expect to see more of this hunky loin of Australian beef as he will no doubt continue to dazzle audiences worldwide.
If you want a stark example of varying persona’s on and off stage, then look no further than Aluna and George; you know AlungaGeorge. Sitting in the Phantom Green area watching our own Claire Beck interview the duo would see two shy and timid characters. Fast-forward an hour or so and watching Aluna Francis bounce around the stage to their version of Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, is like witnessing a character rejuvenation. This isn’t a once off as George Reid calmly controls the production while the center of attention Aluna captivates all within the vast tent beyond the woods. The recent Disclosure track White Noise then bounds out, but make no mistake, the crowd are going wild for AlunaGeorge, not Disclosure. Aluna’s long legs catch the eye on first glance but her boundless enthusiasm and strong vocal performance make this one hell of a gig to remember. With a show already announced for the Academy later in the year; the future looks bright for this Jackel and Hyde duo.
Opting against our usual hangout somewhere in the middle of the crowd, we found ourselves front row and center for Devotion, the first track for this hour-long set. The album opener works similarly perfect in a live setting as Jessie effortlessly caresses every note while the crowd sways in time (mostly). Jessie is quick to pour love on to the Irish crowd as the Sugar Club gig back in November of last year was her first tour-date of her debut album. She recalls the special crowd and challenges all in attendance to match the atmosphere. This turns out to be a simple request as Night Light soars above the hot, humid and stale air. From the mass induced two-stepping of Sweet Talk to the gorgeous and sublime moments of Swan Song and Taking in Water, it’s becoming quite clear that Jessie has evolved into a cocksure performer; vastly improved and polished from the Sugar Club gig. Wildest Moments and Running ends an immaculate set, full of great banter and crowd interaction but above all else the emergence of one of the most dazzling and versatile female artists to surface from our neighbours across the waves in many a moon.
Fridays’ headliners blast in without fanfare, and folk rush towards the main stage as Phoenix begin under a clear but steadily darkening sky. Lisztomania is dispensed with early in the set; from here on in it’s party central in the main venue. New wave bloodlines run through certain of the tracks, with a stuttering drumbeat rolling Run Run Run along at an irresistible pace, while New Order reminiscences shine through others. Frontman Thomas Mars engages the crowd throughout, conducting from the monitors, turning the lights on them and getting a mass handclap going. The light show and visuals pick up as the night goes on, a multi-coloured strobing accompaniment to an increasingly banging set that hits a crescendo with 1901. Mars comes down to the barrier and remains there for the last few numbers – the band cut out at one point during If I Ever Feel Better to let him carry it; the drums come in, and then the band, for what is no less than a classic rock ending. Mars indulges in a bit of crowdsurfing for the finale while the band pound it home; things quieten, it seems like the end, but they barrel in for the final, storming outro of Entertainment (reprise). A belter to round off day one.
Longitude – Friday Photo Gallery
Photos: Owen Humphreys