THIS week Gazette Music reviews Electric Picnic 2015, which provided plenty of flavour for music fans to tuck in to at this year’s festival.
The addition of a few thousand more punters – to the official capacity of 51,000 – did little to dampen the boutique vibe. The absence of rain this year in the lead up to, and right through the weekend, was the icing on the cake.
Kicking off the main stage, festival favourites Ham Sandwich provided the first of many encroachments by band members to the crowd.
The Coronas followed suit, and got the job done to a rapturous welcome, and a no less powerful set.
With the majority of the stages not opening until the following day, a scheduling clash offered 90s shoegazers Ride their set a day early.
The opening chimes of Leave Them All Behind got the crowd going as they blazed through a blistering set of distortion-drenched classics.
Grace Jones and Underworld are no strangers to Stradbally. With the former still as eccentric and spellbinding as ever, she kept a hula hoop spinning in high heels for the duration of Slave To The Rhythm.
Underworld, after the tingling Spoonman, and Dark & Long et al, finished up the evening with the obligatory Born Slippy, leaving the crowd to float off to wherever the evening took them.
The sun came out and remained for the duration of the day, adding a psychedelic hue to the by now completed site.
Battles were on top form, with drummer John Stanier’s rhythmic assault at the heart of everything.
The War on Drugs, over in the Electric arena, melted their epic American rock with sprinklings of Mike Scott’s Waterboys to produce a sound that stretched beyond the loyal throngs within.
A quick dash to hear the last few verses of Horse Outside from the Rubberbandits over in the comedy tent, and it was on to the main stage.
Hot Chip brought a little samba to the main stage, reworking Ready for the Floor with a wash of percussion. With a back catalogue of hits, they’ve grown into bona-fide party starters, with a quirky take on Dancing In The Dark as the sun started to set.
It’s a shame that the sound system let them down in the volume department.
Chvrches were a huge draw at The Electric Arena, thanks to their blend of electro-lite pop. But we were happy to make do with Yasiin Bey, arriving just in time for a seemingly spontaneous Biggie Smalls cover.
For such a genuine music icon, it was a relatively under-attended show, most likely because the average punter may only know this man by his former stage name, Mos Def.
Dublin’s Meltybrains? were perfect for Body & Soul. A quick 360-degree look-around took in weird art installations, a distant fairground and a lot of trees, all soundtracked by the band’s genuinely unique brand of beautiful, trippy rock-psychedelica.
Even a moment spent watching Meltybrains? defined this festival in a nutshell.
Just next door, and things were equally wild and wacky at the Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow. Fight Like Apes were dealing with stage invasions and general chaos, with more people outside the tent impatiently peering in than could actually see the band. Push It, by Salt ‘n’ Peppa, was a car-crash cover.
As for Saturday’s headliners, Blur, they were arguably the biggest band to have played Electric Picnic.
With all interpersonal issues put to bed and energised with a new album, Blur were clearly enjoying themselves and the pressure is off.
Damon had the crowd in the palm of his hand from early on. Every song was gold, from There’s No Other Way through Badhead, Beetlebum and This is a Low.
A muted greeting for the likes of For Tomorrow and even To the End suggested the average audience age was lower than we thought, however.
On the other hand, timeless classics such as Song 2 and Parklife (performed with 11 fans plucked from the crowd – apparently one for each percentage of Irishness in Damon’s DNA) provided the greatest response from the crowd.
Jurassic 5 were the early afternoon crowd pleaser, with Cut Chemist and Dj Numark in tow. Concrete Schoolyard provided the biggest cheers of the afternoon, with heads bobbing in unison to a classic.
With the all-Ireland hurling final shown on a big screen next to the Mindfield, there was plenty to keep punters busy.
Heritage act Boomtown Rats gave it socks, with Geldof in great form, prowling the stage in his fake snakeskin suit, with killer tunes in tow.
Later, Manic Street Preachers launched into Motorcycle Emptiness, and their energy spread throughout the crowd. A perfect slot to have them in, and they wasted none of the opportunity.
It began here, six years ago for headliner Florence and the Machine. Now a festival headliner, her set was reminiscent of the Glastonbury headliner set back in June.
As the closing echoes of a manic Dog Days are Over waved over us, it was time to see what we could salvage from the remainder of the evening.