Live Review: Electric Picnic 2012 – Sunday 2nd September

Posted: 05/09/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on in the aftermath of the weekend…

The Staves – Cosby Stage

Sunday morning at Electric Picnic can be tricky, very tricky indeed. Achy feet from dancing the night away in wellies and bleary eyes from the resulting lack of sleep makes for many a weary festival goer. Thankfully, The Staves are on hand to soothe the pain. Hailing from Watford, this trio of sisters – Emily, Jessica and Camilla – have slowly garnered attention with a series of EP releases as well as supporting he likes of The Civil Wars and Bon Iver on tour. They create a beautiful brand of harmony-laden folk, swapping guitars and ukuleles between them and sharing vocal duties, with their influences proudly audible. The soaring melodies of ‘Tongue Behind My Teeth’ make it the most captivating song on their agenda, but ‘Icarus’ indicates that there is more depth to them as a band rather than being just another folk-troupe. They’re charismatic too, possessing an endearing wit as they regale the crowd with tales of rage at Ryanair’s baggage policy. The Staves release their debut album Dead & Born & Grown soon and after this we’re certainly intrigued as to what it will have to offer.

Elbow – Main Stage

“They’re a great festival band” is a phrase that always knocks around during the summer season, describing in blanket term the mass appeal of the likes of Kings of Leon, Snow Patrol, and The Killers as headline acts. Well, Elbow quite simply trump them all. Guy Garvey & co are firm favourites with Irish audiences, and by the time Sunday night rolls around and weary festivallers just want to be entertained there’s no better big band to be in the company of – string section and all. From the dramatic refrains of ‘Mirrorball’ to the raucous riffs of ‘Grounds for Divorce’ to the beautiful stripped-back intro to ‘Weather to Fly’, Elbow give the crowd what they want, with a serious charm offensive to boot. The more tender moments of most recent album Build A Rocket Boys! shine bright – a mass-toast is raised “to absent friends” before ‘The Night Will Always Win’, and the Irish Youth Choir arrive onstage to add extra weight to the magnificent ‘Lippy Kids’. ‘One Day Like This’ is unsurprisingly reserved to wrap things up, an extended rendition which truly captures the hearts and minds of the Main Stage masses as the closing refrain echoes around Stradbally as the sun sets – “one day like this a year we’ll sing it right”, indeed.

Bat For Lashes – Electric Arena

She’s here. FINALLY. One of the big draws at the 2009 Electric Picnic, Natasha Khan broke many a heart in Stradbally when she unceremoniously cancelled at very short notice. It’s been a long wait, four years to be exact, but she’s gracing the Sunday lineup with her presence and the Electric Arena masses are more than happy to see her. “I made it!” she shouts jubilantly, before launching into ‘Glass’, dancing wildly around the minimal stage setup and instantly casting her spell over her audience. With the release of her third studio album imminent there are several new tracks showcased, indicating that The Haunted Man will continue in the vein of mixing heavy beat-laden dark pop anthems alongside evocative piano-rooted melancholy ballads. Bat For Lashes does what Villagers failed to at the same time on the same stage the night previous – she doesn’t churn out the newbies all at once, but instead performs intermittent classics to balance out the fresh material, meaning the set is engaging throughout. The beautifully-crafted advance single ‘Laura’ leads the charge, with just piano for accompaniment Khan’s voice is stunning; likewise when she takes to the keys herself for a powerful rendition of ‘Siren Song’. The always brilliant ‘Pearls Dream’ is the standout moment, before ‘Daniel’ finishes out the set – all too soon.

Glen Hansard – Crawdaddy Stage

Appearing onstage alone armed with an acoustic guitar, there’s a real treat of a verse and chorus of ‘Say It To Me Now’ to open up Glen Mansard’s headline set – a far cry from the Electric Arena across the way, heaving with Hot Chip fans. The band makes their way onstage, looking awfully familiar…yes, it’s The Frames. With a brass contingent added for the occasion. Having relocated to New York, Hansard flew the musical coop earlier this year with the release of his debut solo album Rhythm and Repose, on which he poured twenty years of experience into eleven songs which came to establish him as an artist independent of his long-time comrades. The gang are all back together tonight, and it’s a beautiful thing to hear the flourishes that the fiddle of Colm Mac Con Iomaire adds to the solo material in a live setting. There’s a belated birthday tribute to Van Morrison with an acoustic take on ‘Astral Weeks’, Hansard really making the song his own with some very exuberant guitar playing. Having roamed around Stradbally for two days in advance of his set, Hansard is philosophical about his experiences – “the country is in ruin, yet here we have thousands of people gathered here to have a good time…” And he’s right to be, because as this is one of the final gigs of the weekend there’s a real air of reluctance for it to end. But all good things must come to an end sometime, so best to do it with a bang –euphoric performances of both ‘Revelate’ and ‘Fitzcaraldo’ – and we can’t really ask any more of him than that.


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