An interview with Howard Marks in the conversation room provides a cheerful introduction and the perfect way to ease yourself into the proceedings of Metropolis day 2. Despite being 70 years old and diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer, Marks’ quick wit and enthusiasm has not suffered – he regales the conversation hall with stories of his drug smuggling days as well as answering questions from the crowd for 45 minutes.
Right next door, Kerri Chandler’s supreme mixing and thumping bass is creating an immersive experience in the small confines of the Serpentine Hall. Of the many electronic DJ acts on over the course of weekend, his set is one of best delivered and best received, despite it still being relatively early on Sunday. He never runs the risk of becoming repetitive and constantly keeps you from leaving to see who might be on elsewhere with an entirely mesmerising performance.
Mark Ronson’s energetic DJ set is made up of 70% hip hop and 30% everything else. Despite there being a considerable lack of brass on stage, it’s still exactly what you’d expect from Ronson – something to keep everyone happy and then some. It is often overlooked that he is a DJ as well as being a producer/songwriter, but he definitely reaffirms this amongst the massive crowd that has gathered to see him in the main hall. It also serves as a reminder of just how many hits he has under his belt, and just how good his ear for music is. With everything from Amy Winehouse to Bruno Mars getting airtime, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the riveting song selection. He blends Ol’ Dirty Bastard into Rihanna like no one else really could, and easily delivers one of the most entertaining sets of the weekend. Keeping the masses excited for over 90 minutes is no easy feat, but when you can play ‘Uptown Funk’ twice in your set it might be a small bit easier.
Where The Roots’ extended jam session had somewhat fallen short the night before, Chic and Nile Rodgers were built exactly for this exercise. With two fantastic back up singers, and a host of musicians in tow, they bring more funk than Mark Ronson and it isn’t tied down to one geographical side of town. While each track seems to end in an impromptu jam session, they still keep the audience on their heels. Perhaps this is due to the phenomenal set list that Nile openly explains consists of the best songs he’s written for everyone throughout his career. Diana Ross, Duran Duran, Daft Punk and Sister Sledge being just some of the artists that he has contributed his talents to. His speech about beating cancer with the help of music and touring is nothing short of inspiring and is also the best way to introduce the inevitable ‘Get Lucky’. Knowing the story behind the track adds a new layer to what has become the biggest song of 2013 that everyone forgot about.
After catching a portion of Jeff Mills‘ abrasive two hour set, it’s straight back to the Shelbourne Hall for the last time to see Kaytranada suitably close out the weekend with astonishing visuals and even better music. It’s a fitting end to a weekend that has went better than anyone could have expected, in that the rain held off, mostly, and each artist has delivered their best. Another thing that the Metropolis organisers should be commended for is the layout of the festival. There is no need for countless hours of walking as each stage is fairly accessible, allowing you to catch more acts than at your average ‘stages in a field’ set up. If this becomes an annual affair, which I think it might due to the massive attendance over the weekend, the idea of Winter in Ireland just became a lot less depressing.
Nile Rodgers and Metropolis photographed for State by Leah Carroll