While I was otherwise engaged at the weekend, my frequent gig-going accomplice and all round good guy Johnny Feeney was at Electric Picnic. Without further ado, here’s what happened on Saturday (his thoughts on Day 1 are here).
Opening proceedings on Saturday on the main stage were the Trinity Orchestra playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I don’t think there could have been a more perfect start to the day. In pleasant weather with the sun still deciding whether to come out or not, the sizeable crowd were treated to grandiose, sweeping renditions of Floyd classics such as ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them’. The showstopper for me was ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ – there was a serious set of lungs on the female vocalist for this one. As if all this wasn’t enough, for encore we were treated to a dose of funk with some Stevie Wonder songs including ‘Superstition’ and ‘Sir Duke’. Heavenly.
Next up was the performance of Tieranniesaur on the Cosby Stage. Annie Tierney and co really know how to put on a party with catchy songs such as ‘Sketch’ and ‘Here Be Monsters’, funky percussion that’s heavy on the cowbells and groovy basslines. If you haven’t seen this band live yet, you’re really missing out.
Quite by accident I caught Róisín O playing the Bamboo Stage in Body & Soul. They grabbed my attention while I was passing and they were doing a boisterous cover of Florence & the Machine’s ‘Dog Days Are Over’. My interest piqued, I stayed for a few songs after and was impressed with what I saw of their country-flecked rock. They release their debut album The Secret Life of Blue later this month and it should be worth keeping an eye out for that.
Back at the Cosby Stage the Cast of Cheers were doing what they do best with their super-tight, angular indie rock. The tent was packed to capacity as the Swords four-piece blasted through songs from their debut album, Chariot, and the recently released follow up, Family. It’s always a treat to see these guys live.
Wild Beasts played to a surprisingly small crowd on the main stage for this mid-afternoon slot. I positioned myself to the side at the front near one of the speakers. The sound was once again superb and the bass was actually rather unsettling on the stomach it was that heavy. Nevertheless, this was a solid performance as they ambled through songs such as ‘Albatross’, ‘Loop the Loop’ and ‘Hooting and Howling’, where singer Hayden Thorpe’s ear-piercing falsetto is showcased to its true potential.
Not Squares’ sound has certainly changed since last year’s brilliant Yeah OK. The first half of their set in the Little Big Tent included new songs such as ‘Fall Far’. It’s got a more disco sound with really distorted vocals but it’s still highly danceable and it’ll be really interesting to hear more. Things pick up in the second half as they play the older more gung-ho electronic stuff like ‘Release the Bees’ and the excellent ‘Asylum’ with some of the best live drumming you’re likely to see. Great show.
Richard Hawley is always someone who I would have labelled a crooner but his latest album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, is a new direction for him and an absolute treat of psychedelic rock. In the Electric Arena he played primarily new songs such as ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’, ‘Down In the Woods’ and ‘Don’t Stare at the Sun’ which all sounded fantastic live. There was also room for older songs such ‘Tonight The Streets Are Ours’ and ‘Open Up Your Door’. Gorgeous from start to finish.
I’ve had problems with The Horrors live in the past due to a number of different reasons mainly involving sound issues but I was willing to give them another try at the Crawdaddy Stage. While still not perfect, it was a much better show from them. They have some of the best songs of the last few years in ‘Scarlet Fields’, ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and ‘Still Life’ so it was a pleasure to hear them live and not have them reduced to a squall. The different instruments and synths were discernible throughout although Faris’ vocals were a bit low and hard to hear. The closing ‘Endless Blue’ was superb, a treat of pure space rock which sent me off satisfied.
Baxter Dury drew a rather pathetic crowd to the Cosby Stage but he was competing with the Cure so we can’t give out too much. He released a gem of an album of quirky, lo-fi pop in Happy Soup last year. His cockney-geezer half spoken-half sung tales of everyday life sounded great here with the likes of ‘Hotel Brixton’, ‘Claire’, ‘Afternoon’ and ‘Isabel’ standing out. This deserved a much bigger crowd.
I was a little bit disappointed with Grimes at Forbidden Fruit earlier this summer but once again felt she was worth giving another try. There were no excuses here – a guy helping out on a drum machine (although he seemed only to wave about a fluorescent wand), two male dancers and a packed Cosby Stage. She has the songs such as ‘Genesis’, ‘Nightmusic’, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Circumambient’ that should really get a crowd going but, as before, there just felt like there was something missing. Halfway through a girl standing beside me turned to me and asked “Does it not get more intense than this?” I replied “No this is it”. “Oh,” she said. That sums it up really. Not bad, just slightly underwhelming.
There was nothing underwhelming about Orbital who delivered a whopper of a closing set on the main stage. A huge crowd going crazy, dazzling visuals and cracking tunes such as ‘Halcyon and On and On’ and ‘Chime’. What more can you ask for? Another triumph from the Hartnoll brothers who were similarly impressive on the late Friday night main stage slot a couple of years back.
After this it was on to the Salty Dog with me for one more slice of funk from the hard-working Tieranniesaur. The Salty Dog is such a great stage – a pirate ship set into the forest with a band stand, sound system and canopy overhead – and was still going strong at four in the morning. Unfortunately I wasn’t and retired shortly after.