by / September 5th, 2012 /

Electric Picnic ’12 Sunday: the State highlights

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. (EB)

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. (EB)

Elevens – Trailer Park Stage

Sack’s Martin McCann’s new band, flanked by members of Dublin 90s heroes Brilliant Trees, have a pleasant Sunday afternoon gig in the Trailer Park. Perched high up in an inside-out mobile home the play an acoustic set of new songs to an ice-cream eating, milkshake-drinking collection of very relaxed people and a few quiet kids. McCann encourages us to imagine an orchestra backing them, which hopefully he has in mind for future recordings. It’s a joy to hear McCann’s bruised tenor again and while it’s a pastoral affair missing some semblance of a rhythm section (and orchestra of course), it seems that everyone who found their way down to the show stays till the end. A sweet distraction. (SR)

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. (EB)

Ham Sandwich – Body & Soul Earth Stage

Their third performance of the weekend and quite possibly their best. While yesterday’s Cosby Stage show took a while to connect (although it finished on an incredible high), this semi-acoustic turn just feels right from the off. A sense of genuine event pervades and it only takes an early cover of ‘I Feel Love’ to get everyone up and losing all sense of reason. From there on it’s highlights all the way and they even manage to bring their giant bouncing balls along. And if anyone is not grinning like a fool when Niamh’s little sister joins them for ‘Ants’ then they have no soul. (PU)

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Max Romeo – Main Stage

A sunny Sunday afternoon calls for some authentic reggae and here two of the art-form’s true elder statesmen to bring it to us. Romeo is first out, after a rather wordy introduction from his band, straight into ‘War Ina Babylon’ and sounding as good as ever. His thirty minute solo set (featuring a roaring version of ‘Chase The Devil’ tees things up nicely for the coming of one of music’s genuine innovators, the Upsetter himself. Arriving to a shunting backing track Perry launches into a monologue that most of, if not all of, the crowd failed to understand through his thicker than thick Jamaican accent. Hair and beard dyed bright red and dressed in Jah knows what, Perry hops and skips like a man half his age and delivers a real master-class. (SD)

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  • Alex

    Bat for Lashes supported Radiohead at Malahide Castle in June ’07, so the 2009 EP wouldn’t have been her debut…