Southern Spain: A Trek Through Andalucia


Monday December 28th 2015 – Monday January 11th 2016.

So off we set, myself, Marguerite, Brendan and Oisin on our second sojourn, the first being in Istanbul in 2012, this time it was to Malaga in Southern Spain and an exploration of the Andalucia region.  From the brisk and breezy climate of cold Dublin to the warm climate of orange trees, magnificent cathedrals, churches and castles. terraced balconied houses, incredible food and drink and the happy Spanish vibe.  We couldn’t have set off at a better time, through the throes of mid winter near the end of December to what seemed like mid summer to us Irish folk.

December 28th, 29th 2015  Malaga.

Having just come out of Malaga airport it still hadn’t dawned on us how hot it actually was, it was just amazing to see bright sunshine and dry pavements.  Our first encounter with Spanish public transport was a bit weird, all we had was an itinerary with a rudimentary address in Malaga, the bus driver had no English so we had to work out what he said.  It was nearly a disaster when I hopped off the bus at one point thinking it was our stop, which it wasn’t.  The doors closed again and the rest of us didn’t get off, so I had to hammer and hammer the doors to get back on again.  God knows what would have happened if the bus sped off without me and myself with no notion where I was.

We eventually got off in the town centre with wide marble streets and set about trying to find Pepa’s place, our first landlady in Spain and our first Air B and B.  It was a bit of a task, Por Favor was the most used phrase asked to strangers here to find our street.   Luckily we bumped into Pepa I think outside the Ispana cafeteria and bar where she was having a coffee and we found our first little bit of paradise tucked in behind the tapa bars, castles and cathedral.


The Living room in the first floor of our accommodation.


The bedroom in the first floor.


Some of the pictures that adorned the wall of our apartment.


The Entrance to our humble abode.


Some of the art or cool graffiti outside our apartment.


The coolest thing of all was the top floor was the roof.  Oisin and Brendan playing footie.

I have no real idea at this stage where we visited on that first Monday afternoon and evening, all I know was that Oisin was on a quest to taste churros, a doughnut type stick that you dipped into a cup or mug of hot chocolate.  This is the cool kiddies breakfast in Spain but you have to be fast, most places stop serving them after noon.

We did eventually find a place just off the square in Malaga central somewhere, a bar and also a cafeteria like most other places in Spain.  The adults settled for a cool glass of beer whilst Oisin got his desired churros.  That is the thing with this part of Spain, everything is so pretty to look at that you cannot stop taking photos, right down to small details like the balconies on nearly every building and intricate details on ceramic tiles adorning halls, doorways and arches of buildings.


Oisin enjoying his Churros breakfast.


The beautiful balconied buildings of Malaga.


Oisin choosing Barcelona football postcards to send to his mates.

Another cool aspect about Spanish culture is the tapas thing, instead of getting one square meal, you choose a bunch of things in the menu, I will elaborate the more I get into this review.  All the different portions come out in three or four plates and you just sample a bit from each dish.  One of my favourites was Calamari rings fried in batter, deep fried pieces of Squid.  Bread was customary with your tapas and normally you are given bottles of olive oil and vinegar to soak the bread in, simply delicious.  Lovely plates of Manchego cheese and incredible red wines.  Ah, this is the life.  Washed down with a Cafe Con Leche, a Spanish latte made with half espresso and half scalded milk.

I think we checked out a few other places, in particular a restaurant called Taberna el Piyayo that was adorned in ceramic tiles where we had some lovely wine and I had a nice meal of Iberian ham and egg and a nice strong Americano coffee.

I didn’t sleep great, the Spanish love their fireworks and they were going off intermittently during the night, I probably didn’t help the situation by having a strong coffee so late last night.  Anyway was first up and showered when I called Brendan.  We both set off to find a place serving coffee to go and orange juice to bring back to the apartment for breakfast.


The Xmas light display during daylight on the main street, Malaga.


Cool art in the streets with Oisin, Malaga.

I caught a short clip of the ambience outside the TragaTapas bar/restaurant in Malaga.

We were walking about the area near the Alcazaba, a fortress dating from 700 but completed in the 11th century, It was also in the area outside the Alcazaba I spotted my first Flamenco guitarist busker, I threw in a few coins.


The Alcazaba in Malaga.


The Amphitheatre at the Alkazaba, Malaga.



Marguerite on the Carousel.


Brendan, Oisin enjoying a chocolate crepe and myself at the amusement park in Malaga.

Oisin on the Slide at the Amusement Park in Malaga.

This was a real twilight place, it seemed the later it was the better it became.  The additional Xmas lights came alive and Malaga lit up.


The Xmas lights display in Malaga’s main thoroughfare.

A busking jazz group who moved about the main cathedral square in Malaga.

We were hanging about around the cathedral square area, which had many outdoor bars and dining areas so this attracted wandering buskers such as the jazz band in the video above and an accordionist who was playing pleasant waltzes, a few beggars mingling in too.  Wonderful drinking areas that insured we wouldn’t be cold in the night with neat little fire lamps blazing near the tables.  I tried various beers, Sam Miguel lager I suppose works out like Spain’s answer to Tennent’s lager in Scotland but I still consider it a nice crisp beer, there was some nice local Malaga brands and Alhambra beer, Estrella Damm among others.  Our final port of call for the day was the Mercado de la Merced bar and dining area, I never seen anywhere quite like it, groups of restaurants and bars like little stalls under one roof with a general seating area in the middle and an array of different Xmas cribs near the seating and the place was absolutely rammed.


Mercado de la Merced, Malaga.


Mercado de la Merced, Malaga.


The flood lit Roman amphitheatre just outside the Alcazaba, Malaga.

December 30th  Malaga / Seville.

I awoke first this morning again and woke up everyone else, we were meeting Pepa at the apartment at 11 pm so went for a walk in search of breakfast, we found the same cafeteria myself and Brendan got the carry out from yesterday.  I settled for a Spanish fry up which was delicious, lovely thin sausages, real yolky fried eggs and lovely crisp Iberian ham.  The orange juice made your eyes water it was that fresh and probably fell from a nearby tree that morning and of course, I have never turned down a cafe con leche, simply the business.

Today was the clearest and hottest day so far, we chanced upon this really cool second hand store which seemed to specialise in psychedelic clothes from the late sixties, I bought myself a psychedelic waist coat, Oisin spotted a bag that Marguerite might like and when she saw it she fell in love with it, so I bought it for her Christmas present and she got herself a lovely velvet hat and Brendan kitted himself out with a new pair of jeans.

So with taxi booked from the apartment, we met Pepa at eleven and handed back her keys and said our goodbyes, she took a photo of us on my camera.  We would be back in Malaga for a night on the 6th January.


Photo taken by Pepa as we were leaving for Seville.

The trains were quite cheap and fast compared to Iarnod Eireann and buses even cheaper to travel, public transport being fairly affordable in Spain. I put on the last Harry Potter film for Oisin on the laptop, Deathly Hallows Pt 2, I timed it perfectly the film finished up fifteen minutes before the journey completed.  Half the time I was looking at the film the other half of the time with my jaw dropped looking at the Spanish scenery, such as the mountain range we passed through coming out of Malaga.

Our next destination was the Hosteria Del Laurel in the heart of Seville, it took a bit of walking to find the place as the taxi can only drop you off at a certain part of the town, but once we found the place, we immediately set about exploring Seville.


Hosteria Del Laurel, Seville.


The courtyard outside the Hosteria Del Laurel, packed with tourists, gift shops and bars.

Seville had a similar feel to Malaga, but seemed more local and with cool narrower alleys and streets that winded this way and that and some incredible musicians plonked in street corners earning their dinner for the night.

There was price differences in Seville, postcards and gifts seemed to be a bit cheaper and there was a concentration of more tapas bars and restaurants, although that is not to say Malaga had any less, its just I suppose some of the streets seemed narrower, so the eateries seemed closer and more in abundance.


Seville thoroughfare in the late evening lit up for the festive period.


Lovely  Christmas illuminations dotted the streets of Seville.


Great big Christmas tree in Seville.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you the first restaurants we stopped at on the first night in Seville, we were all walking around awestruck that sometimes you forget you have a camera on you.  The first tapas bar we stopped at wasn’t too far from the hotel but all of the family voted that it was a bit expensive although it was nice food.  There was a memorable harmonica busker who played a low down cowboy version of White Christmas which I liked and handed him a few coins but he got shooed away by bar staff.  He started up at another place nearby playing the same tune, I wish he varied it, maybe played a little blues too.

We came to another children’s Christmas theme style park, that had a skating rink blasting out classic Christmas melodies, Oisin was in a wonderland.  The Spanish really know how to look after the kids, lots of play parks, theme parks and amusements, perfect for family holidays.

Oisin having his first ice skate in Seville.

Walking about the streets we chanced upon an ice cream shop that was crammed with customers and I could see why, some of the loveliest ice cream I’ve ever tasted in my life. La Campana was the name of the shop, I treated the family to a cone each, the chocolate ice cream was a clear winner for the majority whilst Brendan went for a coffee flavoured ice cream I think.


La Campana Ice Cream Shop, Seville.

The first night was tricky trying to find our hotel, we were accosting people with Por Favor and Perdon and showing them our hotel receipt with the address, Marguerite could speak the best broken Spanish of the lot of us.  Most gave directions of go left and left again and possibly a right.  I don’t know how we done it in the end but we just walked into the square and there we were at the hotel.

December 31st 2015, January 1st 2016, Seville.

I awoke early again, it must be something to do with the climate, no bundling bed clothes around me to keep warm, or maybe I was just pinching myself looking at orange trees in the sunlight whilst having my morning roll up.


Orange trees in Seville.

I got talking to the receptionist at the Hosteria del Laurel, the hotel was run by two brothers and a sister, one brother is a Flamenco guitarist and the other brother is a Flamenco dancer and the sister too, so we were living in the centre of Spanish tradition. Now time for my morning shower, did I tell you about this shower.  Its the weirdest contraption I have ever come across, apart from the usual shower head it had various shower heads lined up from the top to the bottom, if you didn’t know what you were doing it came across like being stuck in a sinking U Boat, with leaks springing everywhere, eventually I got it to come out the main nozzle.  Oisin was apparently in stitches laughing at the sounds of me coming from the bathroom.


Fancy bull ornaments that were in the hotel lobby of our floor.

Yesterday Marguerite and Brendan worked out a two way deal with some guides for today, we got tickets to go on a open top double decker bus with accompanying headphones to relay the history of Seville to us and later on a Flamenco show with the complete works and a drink included.  We discovered that the Spanish are quite protective about their traditions, they wouldn’t be doing free shows in the bars with their traditional music, it was usually a drinks or meal deal with a Flamenco show provided afterwards.


One of the churches of Seville.


There was some amazing castles in Seville too.


Some of the amazing buildings photographed from on top of the double decker bus.


Buildings photographed from the bus.


Beautiful water fountains in every Spanish town and city.

It started raining during the bus trip so we trooped down to the covered section although the impact and view was ruined, so we decided to hop off and head for a restaurant out of the rain taking in a few shops on the way.  We stopped at a nice tapas bar called Boca A Boca, a nice cosy restaurant that had a very appealing Andalusia décor. I can’t remember specifically what we had in the menu but it was lovely food.  It was a busy enough place so we were lucky to get seats at a table there.

Boca A Boca.

After that we went back to the hotel for a refresh before we set off for the Flamenco show. Getting sort of lost again, we were trying to work out what entrance from the square to our street was, was it the illuminated cow area or the shop front with the seventies disco lights.  One stranger we accosted to get directions, Marguerite guessed from his broken Spanish that he was Scottish, to which he was and from Glasgow too.  He was the first Scot we met on our travels in Spain and he made the distinction as it was raining at the time that this was only the third time that it rained in Seville since September.


Boca A Boca Tapas Ber, Seville.


A well fed and watered content lot at Boca A Boca in Seville.

We eventually found the place for the Flamenco show, I’ll spare you the name of the place as there is just too much info to take in at this point.  But the show was fantastic, two Flamenco guitarists, five or six Flamenco dancing Señoritas and singers in colourful costume and three dancing sharp dressed men.  We were treated to some amazing singing in all its traditional Spanish glory, amazing footwork and steps stamped out in time and beautiful intricate guitar playing.  I tried to take a video clip on the camera but an usher came up to me saying photos were prohibited so I can’t show you my own clip.

We took the opportunity to visit one of the churches in town during a mass and taking a few cool photos although flash photography was prohibited.


A class crib scene in a church in Seville.


Class art in a Seville church.


A church in Seville

Brendan spotted something in the Seville map that he thought would be of interest, the Metropol Parasol, a piece of art and architecture created by a German architect ‎Jürgen, H. Mayer.


The Metropol Parasol, Seville.


The Metropol Parasol, Seville.


Some cool art displayed on a balcony in Seville.

Places were getting harder to find but there was always places still open, you just had to cock your ear and listen hard, normally chatter coming from a side street.  We found a busy wee bar down a side street and managed to get a few bottles of beer each.  Another amble and we found a small tapas place blasting out classic seventies rock.  We got a lovely sandwich and chips splattered with streaks of red sauce and streaks of mayonnaise which seemed to be a typical way we discovered throughout South of Spain.  We also had a few nice glasses of red wine and Marguerite used her amazing charm to wring a deal with the barman as it was really, really packed out and we were very lucky to fit into the place.

By now it was getting late enough so we repaired back to the hotel where we were able to buy some wine from the bar there.  Marguerite brought some home made cordial cognac with her and we headed out again to the Plaza Square to ring in the New Year and drink a shot of the cognac.  There was some crowd gathered there and the atmosphere was fantastic. Although the fireworks show never happened or else it was taking place a few blocks back and the authorities didn’t tell anyone.  It seems the state just thought that the local populace would just do the fireworks themselves, which they did.  it was quite freaky you couldn’t see fireworks but you could hear them going off right beside you, even the parents were handing their children fireworks which I thought to be a bit crazy really.

Back to the hotel for the night to put a New Year message onto Facebook, send a few texts and to have a glass of wine before we retired for the night, we put on the TV and watched the Flamenco channel for the last hour, a nice way to end the night.

We went to look at the Metropol Parasol on Friday afternoon but it still wasn’t open to the public, I can imagine some of the views you would get at the top of the cityscape.


The Metropol Parasol during daylight on New Years day, Seville.

Today was a pretty laid back day, we just took it handy strolling along at our own pace, it was decided to we would hire a horse and cart today to see Seville from a different angle to the bus tour.


A cool pottery and ceramics shop in Seville.

January 2nd Seville / Cordoba.

I think we had to catch a train at eleven or twelve pm to Cordoba so we had a bit of time to wander about for the last time in Seville, find a tapas bar and write out a few postcards or something like that.  We came to a nice place with an outdoor area called Alvaro Peregil, a tapas bar with excellent service and amazing food, the area was delightful with orange trees everywhere.


Alvaro Peregil Tapas Bar, Seville.


Brendan, Oisin and Marguerite relaxing outside Alvaro Peregil Tapas Bar in Seville.

Just as we were about to get ready to leave the Alvaro Peregil place some spontaneous folk music started up in the adjoining bar which we discovered was still part of the place we were at.  First we heard verses of song and hand claps and then a tin whistle joined too.  I could barely contain myself, I whisked out my small camera and caught a bit of the action. We were also treated to some of their unique Seville Sangria, an orange flavoured wine which was gorgeous if not a bit too sweet.

It was off after that to catch our train to Cordoba, so back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and into a taxi to Seville train station.  A thing I noticed about the Spanish train stations, there was always extra armed security around and you had to put your backpacks through a scanning machine.  The Spanish aren’t taking any chances after the 2004 Madrid terrorist attacks, so that extra security is needed.


Brendan relaxed for the train journey to Cordoba.


The lovely modern and comfortable trains of Renfe (Spanish Rail)


Cordoba was fairly effortless, the train journey and the taxi straight to the hotel, the only thing that wasted time was the hotel receptionist taking a particularly long time in registering us into the hotel, but once we were official he gave a little smile and everything was cool.  I wish I had taken a photo of the place as it was a class wee hotel.  My room looked out into the cityscape that was Cordoba with fantastic views of some of the tall spires and churches in the area.


Exploring sunny Cordoba 2nd January.




A ceramic tiled arch in Cordoba.


Cordoba gets a healthy tourist season all year round, like an never ending summer.

We had the munchies so it was an onward march to find the nearest tapas bar and get eating and drinking merry.  We sat down at an outdoor eating area that had different tables each side for different restaurants, we had waiters in red shirts whilst the tapas bar at the other side had pale blue shirts.  While we were waiting about fifteen minutes for someone to take an order, two musicians started up in the middle to make some money.  Eventually someone in a red tee shirt came and abruptly told us they were closed which was kind of annoying after waiting that time with mounting hunger.

I think that diversion came to some good as we must have came to the finest eating house in Spain so far, the food and drink was incredible, the name of the restaurant was called Bodegas Mezquita.


The finest restaurant in Cordoba

The waiters, chef and everyone was really friendly, they had a particular brand of beer unique to Seville called Cruzcampo, a lovely crisp lager that was highly recommended.


Cruzcampo Lager unique to Seville.


Salmorejo blanquiverde en homar al Cordoba CF – White and Green almond and basil based- cream or soup.


The much loved Manchego Cheese platter served with mandarin marmalade and some brie.


Bacalao frito con ensalada de primientos del piquillo – Deep fried cod with ‘Piquillo’ pepper salad.


Biscuit, chocolate and cream cake with vanilla coulis and a touch of caramel.  The sherry was a unique Cordoba one that the waiter gave us a free glass of with our desert.

To say at the very least, we were pretty stuffed after that but at the same time, I have never seen food disappear so fast it was that delectable.

Cordoba has a lovely vibe about it, cool hippy type pubs, lovely cafeterias and restaurants and some cute gift shops tucked into its streets and its architecture was second to none, beautiful churches, amazing cathedral and castles all over the place.  I noticed that there was extra police officers around Cordoba and warnings occasionally, to be on the look out for pick pockets.

We visited a bar for a snappy beer, it had cool funky rock music blasting out of it and fairly young clientèle, Oisin asked for an orange juice as they had an amazing looking juicer machine.  He got an amazing looking drink, I must have been half cut at the time as I couldn’t get a decent photo of his drink.


Oisin’s class orange juice, Cordoba.

We came across a curious wine, sherry and chocolate shop called La Casa Del Pedro Ximenez that specialised in Cordoba sherries and wines, extremely nice ideas for gifts and some scrumptious dark chocolates.  And a beautiful dark haired young señorita with excellent English who helped charm us to part with some cash for gifts, a lovely little shop worth a visit.


The hustle and bustle of Cordoba night life, this could be a street in Kinsale or Clonakilty.

There were other weird liqueur, spirits and gift shops around Cordoba where I picked up various gifts and postcards and I couldn’t resist it after reading about it in a book Marguerite gave me called The Devil’s Picnic by Taras Grescoe, a miniature of 160 % alcohol proof Absinthe, one of the small ones which you usually buy in a pack of five, of Le Diable Jaune Absinthe.  Grescoe’s chapter Absinthe Suisse is worth a read, he is trying to seek out the true original elixir that apparently still exists in parts of France and Switzerland, the stuff that pre-dates the prohibition law passed by both countries in the early twentieth century.  The original stuff went underground so still existed but was unlabelled, so kinda like Ireland’s Poitin, you can still apparently buy the bootleg absinthe in parts of Switzerland from absinthe devotees.  Personally the Diable Jaune stuff was mainly just pure alcohol and after reading the review later it was just a Spanish imitation that wasn’t distilled and not the real thing really, Diable Jaune’s speciality mainly being great wine makers.  There are some nice authentic Spanish ones too and it should be noted that Spain, Ireland and the UK never did outlaw absinthe, so distilleries have flourished in Spain, whilst the other two countries, it never has been a serious market compared to whiskey, vodka, brandy and gin.


Le Diable Jaune miniature bottle of 160 % proof Absinthe.

After another bit of walking about it was time to get a supper, we stopped at another tapas place called the Casa Rubio Bar.  I opted for a square meal this time rather than tapas, I think I went for the Bacalao frito con vizcaína – Spicy biscay style cod in tempura and was served with the chip style we seen in that tapas bar on new years eve, with streaks of mayonnaise and red sauce.  I have to say that this was incredibly delicious and Marguerite’s and Brendan’s tapas looked lovely too.  Casa Rubio Bar is worth a visit with friendly staff and nice cuisine.


Casa Rubio Bar, Cordoba.


Casa Rubio Bar, Cordoba.

I think we went back to the hotel after that and settled down for the night, I started messaging Jerry through Facebook about my travels so far and that I was taking a few sips of my first absinthe and staring out into the night scape from the back room window.

January 3rd Cordoba / Guadix. 

We popped out for a bit as you didn’t have sign out too early but I think there was a schedule, we had to catch a train and then a bus to Granada.  We went to check out the cathedral which was very convenient as it was just across the road from the hotel.


The grounds of the cathedral, Cordoba.


My fellow travelling companions in the grounds of the cathedral, Cordoba.


The beautiful sunlit windows of Cordoba cathedral.


Amazing calligraphy on display at Cordoba cathedral.


Beautiful marble arches and floors that adorn Cordoba cathedral.


A gorgeous gilded room in Cordoba cathedral.

Firstly the train journey was incredibly fast, about less than thirty minutes, I can’t remember where the bus pick up was but we had to get a taxi I think in between to the bus terminus and then just over an hour and twenty minutes to Granada.  I think we had to get a taxi to the next bus station or something as it was in the other side of town and got on a bus to Guadix.  When we got to Guadix bus station a taxi was hailed to bring us to the Hotel Palacio de Onate.   The taxi dropped us at the wrong address so we had to find the hotel ourselves.


Palacio de Onate Hotel, Guadix.


Oisin and Brendan,myself enjoying the first drink at Hotel Palacio de Onate, Guadix.


Our lovely hotel room in Guadix.


The family in Guadix.


The auld lad and me.

Guadix is probably the smallest town in our itinerary with only a handful of pubs and restaurants, hotels and not as touristy as previous places, so all the more interesting, off the beaten track.  We found there was a lively outdoor Christmas market with some cool sounds blasting out, we seen a few of these markets in other towns but nearly three quarters of the Malaga and Seville markets were selling leather handbags.  The one in Guadix was quite special and their scope of craft impressive.  There was one stall that appeared obsessed with old compasses, sea maps and old style compass maps.  There was a crepe stall blasting out a hip hop/reggae/South American hybrid music, nice stuff.  A Swiss guy with stall of replica ceramic Swiss house models and Norwegian models, strange pipes, gnomes and strange little tinkly bells.  Some delicious tapas stalls that served a nice bottle of wine too.


Outdoor Christmas Market, Guadix January 3rd.


Delicious tapas served up at a stall in the outdoor market, Guadix.

We headed back to the hotel for the night and I think I had a few pints in the hotel bar before heading to bed, stayed up for an hour to upload photos into the computer from the previous day.

January 4th Guadix.

We had a bit of a lie in today and headed into town to check out some of the shops and the general area, there was a bit more local feel to the place a kind of working class feel, very earthy and there were parts of the town that were completely empty, so maybe recession strapped too.  Oisin got the munchies and was craving churros, so we stopped at a cafeteria/bar called Versalles for our breakfast, who served up some nice food and possibly the biggest serving of the churros doughnut I ever saw.


‘Corr! Would you ever look at that!’ Churros at Versalles in Guadix.

We took a walk up to the tourist information office in the square, we wanted to find info about how to maybe visit the cave houses or for some sort of tour guide, even maybe hiring a car.  There was a small tour train but that was closed at the moment but we found out about Alfredo through the tourist office, I think he was Guadix’s only horse and cart man so we arranged to meet Alfredo in the square.  His business was known as Alfredo: Ruta a las Cuevas – Route to the Caves and he had two horses and a really cool looking carriage.


Alfredo’s horses and cart, Guadix.


Alfredo, Guadix.


Oisin sitting out front and given the reins, Guadix.

Alfredo took us out into the outskirts of Guadix which is basically a mountain range transformed into a community, people carving their homes out of stone, the caves of Guadix, home to many people for the last twenty years or more.  It was a bit chillier up here on top of the range, there was a wind blowing and it was quite cold, but the sights were amazing.


Guadix caves area.


Guadix caves area.


Guadix caves area.


Guadix caves area.

We stopped off at another bar and cafeteria, all of the places in Guadix gave you free snacks if you had a beer in their place.  One thing stood out about this bar, it had pictures of flooding disasters that occurred in Guadix in 1973, quite morbid stuff to have up in the wall.


Bar Cervantes, Guadix.

We went for another walkabout and came to a tiny bar called Bar Cervantes run by a man called Miguel, the space was tiny enough for maybe fifteen or twenty people comfortably or thirty five people would be uncomfortably packed.  But this was the most chilled bar I’ve ever walked into and Miguel, the barman and owner is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  He was playing a radio station on the telly called Radio Clasica, that wasn’t just classical music, there was folk and Flamenco and seriously old stuff from the gramophone era, vaudeville Flamenco from the 1920s and 1930s by the sounds of it.  It reminded me of Reels to Ragas hosted by PJ Curtis on Lyric FM.  It was just wonderful to hear something like this in a small pub.  We got some beers and Miguel gave us these delicious chicken bits and bread for free, this was fantastic, you get your dinner and beer together for the price of the beer, a bit like paradise really and I think Miguel really liked our company too.   It was Miguel who introduced us to that almighty and strong beer, Alhambra Reserva 1925.  My curiosity had got the better of me, I asked Miguel about the green unlabelled bottles on the counter behind him.  It turns out the glass is labelled or stencilled in itself, but a very, very strong beer.


Bar Cervantes, Guadix.



The crew at Bar Cervantes, Guadix.


The amazing Miguel, barman, chef and owner of Bar Cervantes, Guadix.


Newspaper article on Miguel and the Bar Cervantes.


Alhambra Reserva 1925.

Later in the hotel bar after a few pints with the family, I headed off on my own for a while to suss out a few other pubs in Guadix.  La Bodeguilla was a narrow enough pub that had a fair crowd in it, you got free nut snacks with your glasses of beer and it seemed amiable enough but not the same without the others.


La Bodeguilla Bar, Guadix.


La Bodeguilla Bar, Guadix.

I went into a second bar called Bodegas Calatrava, just around the corner before the hotel and had another glass of beer there, they also gave free snacks with the drinks.  It seemed a cheerful enough place.


Bodegas Calatrava Bar, Guadix.


Bodegas Calatrava Bar, Guadix.

I had a final pint in the hotel bar and headed off to bed, Oisin was in the other room.  I foolishly took another sip or two of absinthe, would regret this in the morning.


January 5th Guadix – Granada – Alhambra and Granada again and Guadix.

The schedule today was to catch a bus to Granada, taxiing to the great Muslim palace, the Alhambra from Granada bus station.  The cab ride to the Alhambra was entertaining as the cab driver was Swiss and had excellent English, he gave an interesting history of Granada and was glad that we chose to come here as he felt the people in the region to be some of the warmest friendliest people in Spain.  He relayed the funny story about the wee tourist train here, that it doesn’t have suspension, so when it goes over the cobblestone everyone hits their heads of the roof of the carriage.

There was a small queue for the Alhambra, well a bunch of queues, one for people who had booked in on line already and the other for people just buying tickets there and then.  We apparently came at the best time, had we turned up on speck to buy a ticket say, in June or July, you wouldn’t get in, everyone in the summer books on line, you would be waiting all day to buy a ticket.  We were also told that the entire length of the Alhambra and its estate is about 5 Kilometres long which is a lot of walking and was a lot of walking.  While we were in the structure, we were told a few times to carry our backpacks in front of us due to a high rate of pick pocketing and stealing.

The Alhambra was an incredible place, incredible calligraphy, art, amazing arches and ceilings, beautiful fountains and waterways, orchards and gardens.  The tourism there still seemed to be busy enough for them never to have to shut it down for the winter, which means it operates the whole year round and why not, the climate is very much the same if just a little cooler than Malaga or Seville.


Cool hedge way leading towards the Alhambra, Granada.


The Alhambra, Granada.


The Alhambra, Granada.


The Alhambra, Granada.


Beautiful etchings and archways in the Alhambra, Granada.


The intricate artwork of the Alhambra, Granada.


Incredible detail  went into this work at the Alhambra, Granada.


A cool silhouette carved out of the window ledge it sprang, Alhambra, Granada.

We hailed another taxi to bring us to a tapas bar in the city centre looking at a few shops on the way, I fancied a tee shirt for myself, I think I recognised the calligraphy from one of the walls at the Alhambra.  We eventually settled into this small tapas bar called La Antigualla  that was subtly lit like a nightclub and had some pop music playing out of the television.  We ordered three pints of lager and the barman presented us with delicious burgers free to eat with the drink, a nice touch.  We got talking about music and then folk music.  The man’s name is Luthier Ahmad Al Haj Ibrahim and he was originally from Syria but settled in Granada for about fifteen years, he is a traditional musician who plays and makes the stringed instrument called the Oud.  His bar was a nice stop off point and when we ordered a second round of beers more lovely burgers appeared.  I ended up going back to that gift shop and buying the tee shirt, I wanted to buy a memento to do with the area of Granada, Oisin got a cool hoodie too with Granada and some lovely knot work on it.


La Antigualla tapas bar, Granada.

As we tried to make our way towards a taxicab to go to the station, the crowd suddenly swelled. unbeknown to us, a crowd was gathering for the Granada 3 Kings Christmas Parade so it was quite freaky not been able to escape the crowd for ages.  We eventually managed to make it up a side street and into the back streets till we could flag down a cab, it was the busiest I have ever seen in a town in Spain.  But the cab managed to get us to the bus station where we still had an hour to mill.  Granada at this time had a huge cloudburst of rain, never seen rain quite like that for a while but you could hear it walloping of the bus station roof.  We got more beers in the station bar and because it was Three Kings day they were giving out free food, so I was completely stuffed by the time we had to board the bus plus we were drinking the Alhambra Reserva 1925.

We walked a short bit into the town centre and straight into Bar Cervantes which was pretty full this time round and Miguel the perfect host.  The rest of us wanted another drink but I asked for a cafe con leche as I was still full up from drinking earlier, the coffee was delicious and revived me, perhaps a little too much.  They enticed me to have a glass of red wine in the second round in which I relented, we watched  a Spanish news channel that was showing all the different parades that had happened around Spain over the evening, it was an interesting watch.

I think it was an early rise tomorrow as the 10 or 11 am bus was booked from Guadix to Granada, so we all headed for bed to get an early night.

6th January  Gaudix – Granada – Malaga.

The journey through the Granada mountains through to the Malaga  mountains was stunning and I was starting to get excited again, it was getting hotter and sunnier.

When we finally got to Malaga we got a taxi as far as it would go, the street leading to Petit Palace was too narrow, but not a bother, registration was fairly quick, they were a professional lot and fairly friendly.  Into the elevator to the fourth floor and room 401.    We got a plush spacious room, me and Oisin got the bunk beds and Marguerite and Brendan got decent sized single beds and loads of power points to charge stuff.  We immediately unpacked a few things, started charging up a few things and got out in search of the tapas experience again.

We stopped at a restaurant called Taberna el Mentidero for a few tapas and some beer, there was a nice selection of food there, the fried dog fish was absolutely delicious, fried in a sort of batter, it looked like nuggets but was much much nicer.  It was nice to be back in Malaga.


The Taberna El Mentidero Tapas Bar, Malaga.

Taberna El Mentidero

I think we just milled about slowly around the town centre up near the Alkazaba structure and the cafes around there.  We stopped at Cafe de L’abuela which was a nice outdoor location looking over the space towards the Alcazaba, there was a juggler who was rather good and caught my attention for a bit.  Some drunk guy turned up then and started to holler some mad sounding Flamenco acapella to a bemused drinking and eating public. Cafe de L’abuela was expensive enough I suppose considering its location, Marguerite wanted to buy wine advertised at 14 Euro, but it turns out it was a glass of and not a bottle of wine.  We just had beers and some short snappy tapas.  It was a great place though to mill about in and write some postcards.


Cafe de L’abueula


Oisin taking a break from tapping his ball around. Malaga 6th January


An establishment we may have or may have not visited, it certainly made for a photogenic bar entrance, Malaga.

There was some great music creating a nice atmosphere in the street.  We stopped at another tapas bar in one of the main streets, wider marble streets, the ambience here was amazing, helped by the Flamenco inspired folk rock of Johan Hagstrom, originally from Sweden who played Flamenco guitar and Chiara Bolignari originally from Italy who played accordion, playing this amazing music.




Me and Oisin get to share this awesome cake, yum!  Malaga.

We had a few beers here, some nice tapas, can’t really remember what, but no complaints twas lovely and of course, the chocolate cake I got to share with Oisin.  I had a few more drinks with the family and decided to split for a while and team up with Johan and Chiara and go on a bit of a ramble.


Chiara and Johan in Malaga 6th January.

Johan and Chiara have been in Malaga for about three months busking and playing gigs about the city, they also done the Canary Islands over the summer and South of Spain in general.  We had a few drinks and went off to a kebab place for a meal deal of a chicken burger and a can of Sam Miguel.  I got back to the hotel at 1 am and hit the sack for the night.

7th January Malaga / Marbella.

Got up, into the lift and out for a walk around the square, the sun was cracking the stones, bought a coffee to go and wandered about the place for a while.  Went back had a shower and we all packed up the cases, handed the pass keys back to the reception and asked if they would look after our luggage for a few hours.

It was such a fun and lovely day, we went exploring the Alcazaba. We stopped at a tapas bar called Ispana on Thursday morning, they do a lovely breakfast deal, a sandwich with manchego cheese and crisp Iberian ham, a fresh orange juice and a cafe con leche for 3.50 Euro, which is great value and delicious.


Ispana Resturante, Plaza de le Merced 16, Malaga

The Alcazaba is a gorgeous looking fortess with gardens, archways and paths leading high above the cityscape, built in the Hammudid dynasty in the 11th century and considered to be the best preserved citadel in Spain.  there is also the remnants of a Roman theatre dating from the 1st century next to the entrance to the Alcazaba.  Most of the info here is taken from the Wikipedia article on the Alcazaba.


Brendan at the Alcazaba in Malaga.


The Alcazaba, Malaga.


The Alcazaba, Malaga.


The Alcazaba, Malaga.


The Malaga cityscape from high above in the Alcazaba.


The Alcazaba, Malaga.

We stopped at a cafeteria that was doing ice cream and I bought everyone a cone, nice to have an ice cream on a sun splashed day.  We went for a trip down to the dockside area and on to one of Europe’s biggest Ferris Wheels, the Mirador Princess.


The Mirador Princess Ferris Wheel, Malaga.


A view of the Malaga cityscape from the Ferris Wheel.


Myself and Oisin on the ferris wheel.


On the ferris wheel.

We got the bus from Malaga to Marbella and met Donna Callaghan, an old friend of Marguerite’s from Glasgow at a cafeteria, on the journey down it was mostly coastal and we saw the most incredible sunset.  Donna welcomed us into her home, put out some food and drink, we talked and got merry.


Sunset in Marbella.

8th, 9th, 10th January Marbella.

Over the next three days Donna took us on a tour of Marbella and San Pedro, exploring some of the best tapas bars and cafeterias, some of Donna’s favourites.  We explored a nice chunk of San Pedro and the weather was exotic and gorgeous.  Considered to be like spring over here this would compare to my Irish summer in 1995, lovely and warm with a very mild breeze.  On Saturday we visited a seaside restaurant and a tapas bar that looked like it could have been in the Caribbean coast and met some of Donna’s friends later on that day.  Also on Saturday we just walked slowly around an area of San Pedro that seemed to be full of exercise equipment, children’s playgrounds and cool walkways.  There was a skating rink and a nice wee cheerful bar playing chill out sounds and cheap beer for a Euro a cup, a great vibe.


BAR INAKI, San Pedro.     Brendan, Marguerite, Donna and Oisin.


A gorgeous house in San Pedro, Marbella.


Cafeteria Heladeria, a particularly good cafe restaurant in San Pedro.


Cool water fountain in San Pedro.


Scrumptious chocolate cake, myself and Oisin had one each from a cafeteria in San Pedro.


Cafe Con Leche from that same cafeteria, San Pedro.


A restaurant on the beach, San Pedro.


Oisin on the beach at San Pedro.


A cool sculpture in San Pedro.


Oisin exploring the play park in San Pedro.

On the Saturday Donna suggested we visit the supermarket as it would be closed on our final day on Sunday.  So I got my tobacco, coffee and various other things some for presents and some for myself and a twelve can pack of Sam Miguel at only 6 Euro.

Donna’s villa is a gorgeous house with marble floors, a lovely front garden and driveway and the most picturesque back garden view, looking off over to the mountains and a golf course at the back.


Donna’s villa, Marbella.


The view from the back of Donna’s villa, Marbella.

On the final day Sunday Donna drove us about twenty kilometres from Marbella to a mountainous village called Ojen, all the houses were in dazzling white and sprinkled all over the side of the mountain, referred to as white pueblos houses.  It was a wonderful looking place, cool narrow streets that went uphill around corners, chilled tapas bars and cafeterias, happy families and lots of dogs.


Ojen Village, 20 km from Marbella, in the district of Malaga.


Ojen Village.


Ojen Village.


A cool chilled cafeteria and bar in Ojen Village. 


Sierra Gourmet tapas bar, some lovely food there.  Ojen Village


Mussels served up in Sierra Gourmet, Ojen Village.


Ojen Village.

On the final night Donna gave us each a Christmas present, laid out a feast of food and uncorked a few bottles of red wine.  We all took turns to sing some songs and talked into the small hours.  She was the perfect host and a perfect end to our Andalucia trek.

11th January Marbella – Malaga – Dublin. 

Donna drove us to Marbella bus station and waved us off as we headed to Malaga bus station and then the airport.  When we got through security I bought a bottle of Mari Mayan’s Absinthe for 20.90 Euros, rated as one of the more authentic ones, I learned how you take it proper, dilute to taste with ice cold water and watch it louche, it turns paler or opaque, kind of like the way Guinness settles from the cream.

Stepping off the plane at Dublin airport we immediately start to shiver, welcome back to wintry Ireland, now we have two and a half months to wait to get anything barely resembling Malaga’s or Marbella’s winter time.  What a fantastic break and worth checking out, Andalucia is the place to go for your late December break.


Marguerite,Brendan, Oisin, Donna and Amanda. San Pedro 8th January.


One of the bottles of wine consumed on 8th January.


A church in sun splashed San Pedro.


Cute little bar and ice rink in San Pedro.  Saturday 9th January.


A church in the village square, Ojen Village.


Miguel and Myself, Bar Cervantes, Guadix.


A beautiful embellished doorway, Cordoba.


The Alhambra, Granada.


One of the gardens of the Alhambra, Granada.


Oisin in the swimming pool that Donna shares with her neighbour, Marbella.


Posing for a photo at the Guadix Caves.


Lemon tree, Ojen Village.




























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Lawrence O’Hearn – Si l’hiver peut prendre (CD Review)

Pochette2 copy

Lawrence O’Hearn is a exemplary tin whistle player who has played around Galway and Cork during the 1990s and now currently resides in  near Quebec city in Canada.  He released his first album Si l’hiver peut prendre this year playing on it, tin whistle and baroque oboe and joined by André Marchand on guitar and  podorythmie (A form of rhythmic tapping with the feet.) and his wife, Judith Laforest on recorder.

Rather than go through the seventeen tracks in order I will do it in sections, the Irish section (reels, jigs, slip jigs and slow airs), Quebecosis section (Quebec reels and other types of tunes) and classical stately pieces.

Quebec Music.

1.) Si l’hiver peut prendre (trad. Québec) / Major Molly (Andrew Gow 1760-1803) , 4.) Nephtali Billette / Gigue du père Richard / Reel de Lévis (trad. Québec),                       7.)  Un reel d’Isidore Soucy / Un reel d’après Edmond Laliberté (trad. Québec), 9.) Bonnie Anne (trad. Ireland) / Reel Adrien St-Hilaire (trad. Québec)., 14.) Jack Delad / Popcorn / Reel de Chicoutimi (trad. Québec).           

Lawrence plays a lot of the Quebecois reels on the whistle with Marchand providing lovely simple beat kept by his feet to the music giving it a nice perky feel.  1.) Has a nice timely feel with gorgeous whistling from Lawrence, track two Major Molly is a Scottish tune by the famous fiddler Andrew Gow.  4.) This track has beautiful clear whistle playing and lovely elegant understated guitar backing as well as Marchand’s amazing rhythmic feet. 7.) I wrote about this track that the whistle playing reminded me of bumble bees darting about a summer garden.  There is something just lovely and simple about a sole tin whistle and a pair of stamping feet, what Lawrence refers to as the ‘crooked tunes’ where the beats are in three rather than the 4/4 rhythm.  Lawrence lands a nice surprise at the end of the track with a lovely turn of triplets.  9.) This track sounds familiar, that’s right I remember it from Altan’s Harvest Storm, the placement of it would be correct, a reel from County Fermanagh called Bonnie Anne which Lawrence makes his own and plays out with another reel from Quebec.  14.) This is a bunch of traditional reels from Quebec that Lawrence must have kept a keen ear on as they remind me a some well known Irish reels, the first one being  Jack Delad which reminds me of the Five Mile Chase reel and a few other familiar tunes, it seems Lawrence has found the Quebecois equivalents of these tunes and backed by the beautiful sympathetic guitar of Marchand.

Still on the Quebec/French influence of the CD there is a few other tracks with similar influences.

6.) Reel á Gastonguay.  This track has Lawrence playing baroque oboe as well as the whistle and beautiful soft guitar from Marchand.  This is slower and more stately than the usual Quebec reel selections, I would almost put this as classical courtyard music with a lovely jollity to it.

15.) Turlette de la Beauce, Old Mocassin Shuffle.  Judith Laforest, Lawrence’s wife guests on this track with the recorder.  A lovely soft bouncy number similar to Reel á Gastonguay with the tapping feet and Lawrence joining the recorder with what sounds like a low whistle, another nice stately piece.

17.) Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen.  This track is in a tribute to Mozart and is probably this most classical of all the tracks on the albums, the use of the baroque oboe lends this piece to sound like the time of Mozart’s era.  Classical music wouldn’t be my forte but there is no denying that this is a well crafted piece of music.

Irish Section

3.) Slip Jigs: Hardiman the Fiddler, Will You Come Down to Limerick. 10.)Reels:  Hare Island, Brandy’s, Buttermilk Lane (All Lawrence O’Hearn).  12.)Jigs: Snorkel Jacket Jig (Lawrence O’Hearn), L’Echelle (André Marchand).  16.) Jigs: Wheels of the World, The Brides Favourite.

3.) A nice rollicking number of slip jigs with graceful guitar backing and steady clear tin whistling from Lawrence.  10.) These tunes go back to the time I was playing sessions with Lawrence, Tak Tamura and Anders Trabjerg under the various guises of Pangaea and other projects such as the first demo project myself and Lawrence done in 1995 or thereabouts.  All these tunes are wrote by Lawrence, Hare Island is a nice spirited number that has a lovely urgency to it, Brandy’s is dedicated to one of Lawrence’s dogs, Brandy and Buttermilk Lane wrote in ode to the famous lane frequented by buskers in the city of Galway, each as graceful as the first tune and given a solid backing by Marchand.  12.) I have the credit in the sleevenotes for naming this first jig, Snorkel Jacket Jig, I think that Lawrence thought it was so off the wall naming a tune like that, that it stuck with him.  The following tune L’Echelle was composed by André Marchand.  The first tune has a jolly feeling to it, an uplifting jig played with exuberance, the following tune has a Galician type of feel to it or could that be Breton, O’Hearn and Marchand making a solid team.  16.) Lawrence plays a set of classic jigs, wheels of the World and The Brides Favourite on the solo tin whistle and its a lovely set of tunes with clear whistle playing and a sure rhythm.

Lawrence O'Hearn and his baroque obe.

Lawrence O’Hearn and his baroque obe.

Lawrence with his whistle.

Lawrence with his whistle.

Irish Slow Airs

2.)Liam O’Raghallaigh.  5.) An raibh tú ag an gCarraig.  8.) Bean dubh an ghleanna.  11.) Ni ar chnoc nó ar Ísleacht.  13.) An raibh tú ag an gCarraig.

2.) Lawrence plays the baroque oboe for this slow air, which give a beautiful different feeling to the tune, the tone and ambience is absolutely perfect, somewhere between the tin whistle timbre and that of the wooden flute or even the low whistle. 11.) Lawrence pays tribute here to the Late Donncha O’Brain by doing a lovely pure version of this slow air, he lists Donnach O’Brain has having done one of the the most influential tin whistle albums in Irish traditional music of all time and he certainly does this track justice. 8.) There is a wonderful job done of this track, it sounds like a harmonium was used for the drone, coupled with the sound of the oboe this actually sounds like a set of unusual pipes lending a lovely contemplative soundtrack to this Irish slow air. 5.) & 13.) On track 5 Lawrence plays a lovely strong whistle for this air, you just know that part of his soul is still in Ireland, be it in Galway or Cork, he just puts his heart into the music, you get the sense of sadness and the windswept rainy landscape from that simple whistle sound.  13.) He plays the same track again but this time on baroque oboe giving it a deeper more resonating feeling, its nice to hear Irish music on more unusual instruments.

You can visit Lawrence’s website here to buy his CD and find out a bit more about him and where he draws his inspirations from, long may he continue to make good music.

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Electric Picnic 2015 Festival Review. Ireland 4th – 6th September.



Sunday 30th August

So as per usual with a serious lack of sleep due to excitement and making sure I packed everything I hopped on the 10 o’clock Galway to Dublin Citylink commuter service bound for Kinnegad and was picked up by Lisa Lawless for the drive to Stradbally.  When we arrived we met Catherine Kehoe who wristbanded us with the pink temporary pre-event wristband.  I was going to be on the early shifts this time from 8 am – 2 pm working the crossroads for Monday and Tuesday and crew for Wednesday and Thursday.  I was thinking I maybe hit the festivities too hard as we had a feed of pints and a Chinese in Stradbally and I made the silly mistake of thinking it was still summer walking about in a tee shirt only to find it baltic when the sun slipped away.  I also woke during the night and had a good boke outside my tent which is probably not the best start to the event and probably down to lying on the inflatable mattress which made my stomach queasy.  The good thing being that most of the team last year was back, Sean, Dave, Anne Marie, campervan John (John Dooley), Lisa, Jan, Dave Curran, Cathal Johnson (Sorry I never made it to your gig), Ross (Weekend team leader) the Cork lads, Dermott, Shane and others and a few new faces such as Derek (Lisa’s husband) Anastasia, Ross, Corina (John’s friend), Jan who I met at Body & Soul festival and the like.

Monday 31st August and Tuesday 1st September.

Crossroads duty, there are numerous crossroads encircling the festival site and our main duty is to make sure that traffic adheres to the one way system, but we really are just eyes and ears looking at the four roads on each side and making sure there is no crashes and that vehicles are not driving too fast.  I think Anastasia and Ross enjoyed working with me as I had my ipod and speaker and was blasting out sounds, some of which was on the festival bill and some of which we would be hoping to see on the bill next year.  Its my firm belief that if you are listening to sounds in the background whilst working away, it is much more enjoyable experience and the time flies in better, I think the other volunteers agreed too.  On Tuesday I got stung on the face by a wasp while talking to Anastasia so off to Catherine I go to get some ointment, thankfully there wasn’t as much wasps as in the 2012 edition.

Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September.

On Wednesday I was given work in crew camp so I was supervised by Cork man Dan.  My job today was to sit at the staff campervan entrance to basically point the campervans onto the correct route and point cars up the track to the car park.  This was a very quiet job so it was a godsend that I still had juice in the old ipod and was blaring out a few Blur albums in anticipation for their Saturday night headline.  My good mate Kevin Keehan arrived today, he was due to start work at 10 am with the Soul Kids crew.  We also got wristbanded properly today which was a good feeling and that the staff trusted us to not do a disappearing act on the Thursday shift.  Thursday was a bit more busier as I was stationed at the exit road for crew camp going onto the main road and luckily I still had juice in my ipod for sounds, the security guard working across from me (At hole in the wall staff entrance) was doing this line of work for the first time and was hoping the next volunteer would also have a stereo speaker as he had another six hours to do after I finished.

John had a nice set up at his campervan, not only did he provide free tea and coffee and the use of his electricity to recharge stuff and to inflate mattresses, he brought along a projector screen, DVD player and projector too.  So we had outdoor movies too which was fantastic, The Commitments on Monday night, The Shawshank Redemption on Tuesday night and St Vincent on the Wednesday night and a ready audience of volunteers sitting in rows in front of the screen.  It was breezy the odd night so I loved how the wind sometimes would change the aspect ratio of the screen giving it a look of an upturned page of a book, it was quite cool and really added to our festivities.

Now think of the worse thing that can happen when you finish all your shifts and you are wristbanded for proper festival fun, through the duration of the night before possibly because of using my jacket as a pillow I some how broke my bank card and only discovered when using it in the Supervalu atm after my final shift that it was defective.  It was a bit awkward with my filled roll, milk and various other groceries when I had my card checked in another machine with the same results.  Thankfully another  member of festival staff who knew I had been working for the day stepped in and offered to pay for my filled roll for which I am absolutely grateful for.  When I got back to crew camp I explained my dilemma to other folk and another crew member Canadian, Jenny the Pink Lady googled my bank on her phone and discovered that a branch was open for another 45 minutes in Portlaoise and she drove me out to there, so Jenny thank you a million times again for helping me out, I was able to make a manual transaction and get an emergency payment the following day.  I took some photos over the pre-event, I was hoping to get a video of one of the marquees getting raised, but it was taking a while even though I was told that the Electric Arena marquee was raised within an hour so just took some photos instead.


The raising of the Despacio marquee.



Friday 4th September

Woke up at 10.30 am fairly fresh, probably helped by getting the early shifts previously, It was off to the Hendrix campsite to find the nearest merchandise vendor to pick up a lanyard and programme as I had no real idea of the stage times or what tents certain artists were in.

So off to Stradbally to get the emergency payment from Ulster Bank, a coffee and a breakfast roll from the Gala shop and a walk back to crew camp to sit at John’s campervan. This is where I got to meet Corina proper for the first time, a friend of John’s from Naas in County Kildare and where she introduced to me Orchard Thieves cider with ice in a glass, simply delicious.  She noticed that I got the festival programme and she wanted to see a particular chef in the Theatre of Food programme only to discover that he had already done his stint an hour or so earlier.

I was supposed to go to a meet up with folk from the Electric Picnic thread at five o’clock but was trying to locate Geoff Ward who was looking for artist accreditation area but I then realised I couldn’t do anything as it was a restricted area to me.  I was also asked by Kevin to hang around the Body & Soul area to catch his mates band, The Mud Bubble who were playing about 7 – 7.30 on the Body & Soul Bandstand stage.

Joni – Body & Soul Main Stage  5.15 – 5.45 pm

I caught a bit of this soul singer Joni resplendent in her pink jumpsuit wooing a gathering audience at the Body & Soul main stage, she has a wonderful voice and another girl on the decks providing funky beats, great uplifting music to get the party spirit going.

Sean Sheil and friend grooving to Joni.

Sean Sheil and friend grooving to Joni.


Thank Funk on the B&S Bandstand stage.

The Mud Bubble – Body & Soul Bandstand Stage 7 – 7.30 pm

The Mud Bubble are a live Drum N’ Bass act from County Clare who came from the ashes of another act called The Conectors which also used hip hop, reggae and drum n bass styles.  Debbie Ellen Higgins has a great voice and a very unique rapping style, she appeared a little nervous when doing the sound check but warmed to the reaction from people milling around who appreciated the sound.  Now they didn’t pull crowds in their droves but you have to take into consideration that they are a new act and the people hanging around you could tell enjoyed it, hopefully they will stay at it and build up a nice fan base.  Check out the little kid breaking out the moves to their music.  The drummer has a tremendous sense of the drum N bass technique, his drumming reminding me of the drummer with Engine Earz back at Life Festival in 2012.

Mud Bubble on the Body & Soul Bandstand Stage.

The Mud Bubble on the Body & Soul Bandstand Stage.

Daithi – Body & Soul Main Stage   7.30 – 8.15 pm

A short distance away at the Body & Soul main stage a rather wacky electronica was emerging, this was the first time I actually caught some music from rising DJ and traditional musician Daithi who had the natural amphitheatre filling up with eager party goers mad for some action.

I figure at this point vaguely that I went to the Charcoal Grill for a steak burger to set me up for the evening, before going to check out activity at the main stage.

Late Edit: I see this constantly crop up on the forums about Electric Picnic, the infiltration of brand name tents and a younger crowd, some who were termed dickheads.  As far as I concerned this is probably coming from people who attended the old Picnics of 2005, 06,07 etc.  Do you not realise that you are just getting older, loads of young people will be turning eighteen this year, why shouldn’t they have a slice of the EP pie.  As far a brand name tents go they didn’t really bother me that much, we are all human after all and we all have sets of legs to walk away from them.  I would just give places like the tacky carnival, Cocktail Cocktail bar, the 3 mobile place, E-Lite area the swerve and walk to the areas I liked anyway.  In fact I think they should add more next year as it acts like a magnet for the youngsters happy to hang about the areas with shit dance music.  It means that areas like Body & Soul, Electric Arena, Rankins, Cosby, Despacio and Salty Dog will be potentially dickhead free because they will want to hang about the tacky brand areas.  Bar the Bacardi Bar as that does get some reasonable line ups of good DJs.

Grace Jones – Main Stage  8.45 – 10 pm

Having caught some of the Grace Jones set at the Electric Arena in 2008 I was intrigued to how she would go down on the main stage this year.  I forgot that she has a mountain of hits from the 1980s and was the perfect recipe for the Friday night partying.  A sizeable number had gathered to hear the classic hits of Pull up to the Bumper, Walking in the Rain, Night Clubbing.  Intoxicating reggae inspired funk and pop with a few costume changes and some really cool classy lights and effects.   My videos don’t really do the show any justice as I was too far away to properly take in the spectacle with my smaller camera, I should have taken it with the Nikon where I could’ve focused it at bit more clearly.

Myself and Kevin just stuck around for the oncoming Underworld set to follow, also in attendance was John Dooley, Anne Marie, Catherine Kehoe, Ross and various others.

Underworld – Main Stage  10.30 pm – 12 am

This was my third time catching this act and all at previous Picnics too, They were a perfect main stage closer with their pulsating electronica, reeling out the classics such as Rez, Born Slippy, Into the Blood and loads of other classics.  I always thought they would be more suited to closing the main stage for Saturday night where tradition used to dictate a late night rave act for the Saturday closer but nothing wrong with a bit of change either. There was a few notable causalities during the gig with some seriously inebriated people which is bound to happen out of the 50,000 attending.  The most likely scenario being that some of these folk tried to smuggle their booze into the main arena but failed and drunk it there and then rather than trek all the way back to their tent.  A girl was dragged from the front into the mixing desk area by security who was lapsing into unconsciousness and required medical aid, luckily she came around and was helped up to the medical tent.  My one regret about Friday night was completely forgetting about Belle & Sebastian’s set in the Electric Arena which clashed with Underworld and this coming from an exiled Scot.

Myself and Kevin headed into the Body & Soul area for a while but it had grown increasingly chilly with a cool breeze blowing so we set for Trenchtown which provided a bit more shelter and stayed there until close, soaking up the various stages the Live Inna Yard stage with Karma Parking, Colonial FX and Braintheft with Oisin Daly providing the live stuff and the Treasure Beach stage with Will Softly and DJ Dodgy.  I managed to get some video clip and nice photos of Trenchtown with my small camera.









We retreated to the confines of Kevin’s tent for the final few cans for the night and a few smokes, quite a content first night of EP 2015.

Saturday 5th September

Had a bit more of a lie in this morning and took a trip to the Gala in Stradbally for a pick me up cup of coffee.

Miriam Donohue – Oxjam Tent  2 – 2.30 pm

I wanted to get into the arena a bit earlier today as I endeavoured to catch an old Galway flatmate of mine, Miriam Donohue who was playing a half hour set at the Oxjam stage in the main arena.  Unfortunately my Nikon camera was playing up and didn’t record the clip properly so I whipped out the smaller one to film the rest of the track.  I would have recorded more of the set but was held up at the Hendrix phone queue waiting to drop the ipod in for a recharge.  Miriam’s style would be s soft unplugged acoustic style in a similar vein to Natalie Prass, Joni Mitchell but strong in her own originality.

I was a little excited today which was understandable, my friends GIRO were going to be performing on the Body & Soul main stage and they wanted me to guest with them for two sets of tunes with my tambourine bodhran, so this would be my first time performing on a stage at Electric Picnic, so how could I not be excited.

GIRO – Body & Soul Main Stage   4 – 4.30 pm

GIRO: Galway International Retro Orchestra are a band with a flair for Irish traditional music, Klezmer and wild gypsy music.  They struck upon an original idea that stretches far back to the migrant 1920s/30s in New York, the cultures that were attracted to the Big Apple, its burgeoning Jewish population and settled gypsy population and the Irish diaspora that also travelled to New York.  GIRO take all the musical influences from this period and make it into their own original sound.  The band had a nice number of spectators who soaked up the sounds at Electric Picnic and a few breaking into a step.

I went along for a wander around Body & Soul and the main arena with GIRO, GIRO are Anders Trabjerg (box), Kyle Borley (Vocals, flute, piccolo and whistle), Geoff Ward (Banjolin, sax and clarinet) and Mayo Yanachi (Fiddle).  We took in the sights and sounds of the festival, a wandering drum troupe, yummy food stalls, the shenanigans at the Jerry Fish tent and meeting all sorts of crazy characters wandering about the festival.

In the course of wandering about with my buddies I missed a few acts on the main stage such as Future Islands and War on Drugs, but I’m sure these bands will come around some time again, I think Picnic time is more important sometimes to spend with good friends as well as catching the odd act.  When Anders and Mayo had to leave as they had to get back to Galway to pay the babysitter, I took a trip back to the crew camp for a wee rest and to resupply myself with more Guinness goodness, a much needed break before the madness with Jon Hopkins and all that followed.

We wandered back into the main arena about 9.15 to try and catch a bit of the Chvrches set, in through the iron gate and up one of the short cut paths near the volunteers office and right down to the Cosby Tent which is so handy, it would take the best part of 20 – 25 minutes to reach the Electric Arena the usual way through the throng of people, so these volunteer short cuts are invaluable sometimes to actually make a set or to just catch a set.

Chvrches – Electric Arena    9 – 10 pm.

Chvrches were about half way through their set when we arrived, they had quite a quirky electronic and rocky sound about them, Lauren Mayberry at times reminded me of a young Madonna or even Cyndi Lauper, she had a sweet shrill voice and I’m glad to say I did catch one Scottish band from Glasgow at the festival (Sorry again Belle & Sebastian). Chvrches had a nice draw of an audience and a nice clean electronic sound, a solid pop but with rocky edges.  This was my first time catching them live and it won’t be my last time either.

It was handy that Rankin Woods was the next tent as this left us with fifteen minutes of Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) who was finishing his set next door, my appetite for rap and hip hop had grown since Outkast last year and Nas at Life festival this year.

Yasiin Bey  – Rankin Woods Stage   9.30 – 10.15 pm.

I don’t have much to go on here as I have none of this artists albums but the crowd packed into the tent suggests that this guy has a fairly legendary status.  His music anyway came across as more of old school than modern hip hop and the particular track I caught a clip of had a nice old time jazz fusion feel to it.  He also came across as fairly articulate in his wordspeak and his backer on the beats had a classy sound.  This gig was also getting me in the mood for tomorrow when Jurassic 5 will be belting it out on the main stage. I was so glad anyway to have caught at bit of Yasiin Bey’s set.

I don’t know about you the reader but I always find when you are in the area of a must see artist its always advisable to hang around the front after the previous artist, in this case it was Jon Hopkins who is one of my top listening pleasures, so, I was in the right place at the right time, bring it on.

Jon Hopkins – Rankin Woods   11 pm – 12 am

Hopkins just keeps getting better and better, ever since I saw the Glastonbury set on the iplayer I’ve even been more hooked and have obsessed over this guy since, the performance tonight did not let me down, the sound was absolutely perfect, you could have built a house on top of the bass, it was that good.  I simply can’t wait to this new album he is working on which he is hoping to release at the end of February next year, so hint hint to family and friends my birthday is on the 18th February.  Open Eye Signal never gets tiring in fact it has become more fired the more I hear it, some of the new material is really nice too, Halo seems to be inspired and realised from the slower Collider, great scrunchy and glitchy tracks like Two Dancers (Jon Hopkins Remix) (Wild Beasts Cover) just power on like nothing else.  Yep! Hopkins is my absolute highlight of EP 2015 and he probably had the best sound of the festival too, much to the detriment of the headliners in the Cosby Tent, Low or so I read about anyway and isn’t it bloody typical that not one second of his performance is featured in the RTE broadcast of the festival.

Blur – Main Stage   11.30 pm – 1.30 am.

Myself and Kevin tried to take the short cut from the Cosby Tent to the main stage for Blur but we got chased away with another crew member by a security guard, so we just walked by the merchandise stand direction which is not actually that far and entered the main stage throng to the left of the main stage, so left but slightly centre to get a good view, the screens really help in this respect.  Blur were about halfway through the Beetlebum track when we showed up, there was a nice smattering of tracks and classics from their well known albums and some of the tracks from the new album The Magic Whip blended in nicely too.  There was a stage invasion for Parklife, well, Damon invited everyone onto the stage but it created a great party atmosphere.  Hit after hit reeled through the night Song 2 had us headbanging madly (reminds me of the energy of the Butthole Surfers or Sonic Youth), Tender created about a few thousand sore throats singing along in unison to Damon, Girls & Boys (like Blur’s take on a Bowie style track), She’s so High mixed in with Whip numbers like Thought I was a Spaceman, Ong Ong and There are too many of us.  I thought they put on a really amazing show and I’m glad to have caught Blur for the first time live, brilliant stuff.  I’m also chuffed that RTE filmed the first seven tracks so I got to see the first part of the concert I missed in Favour of Jon Hopkins, so I get the best of both worlds.

We repaired to the Body & Soul arena for a while in search of some ambient techno from Donal Dineen, its become tradition now for us to catch a bit of his set during the weekend, but man, once we came out of the main stage throng you could feel the cold big time, a fairly cold breeze blowing over wide open spaces that would freeze the balls off you.  Donal Dineen had a great crowd gathered and as usual his music was infectious, he really knows how to put the sounds into a party momentum.  The DJ that followed Donal, Neil Finn also put on a great set of ambient techno, but we split about 3.30 am as I thought I was going to turn into an iceberg with the cold, so back to the confines of Kevin’s tent for some more beers and a good smoke.  My disaster for Saturday night was leaving down my beautiful Body & Soul water flask which happened to be full of Captain Morgans and Coke to put on my ipod and speaker walking back to crew camp and forgetting to pick up the flask again, only realising when I was sitting in Kevin’s tent, so that was a small pisser for a mostly enjoyable night.  I suppose people loose things all the time at festivals but I wish it wasn’t the Body and Soul water flask that Mikey Joyride Soro gave me at Body & Soul festival.

Gorgeous decorations over the Earthship Stage.

Gorgeous decorations over the Earthship Stage.

Donal Dineen giving it the ambient unz at Earthship Stage.

Donal Dineen giving it the ambient unz at Earthship Stage.

Sunday 6th September

Woke about 11 am and headed up to the Gala shop in Stradbally to get a coffee, I find it strange that the main camp sites are full of food stalls and cafes yet no one thinks of setting up one at the crew camp which doesn’t make sense, You’d think Mocca Bean with their franchise would have one there, as there would be extra bucks to be made.  I met various folks from Galway during the weekend, Doran and his girlfriend, Ciaran and Jackie and loads of folk from my working festival past like Micheal, Michelle who landed a nice cushy number working with Body & Soul on the Bandstand Stage and various other folk who I’ve forgot the name of again ha ha.

Legend – Main Stage 2.30 – 3.15 pm.

Now Legend were a colourful Rastafari lot with concert lights to match the Jamaican colours, they were basically a Bob Marley covers band and good tight versions of the classics too but I couldn’t help thinking that it was almost a replica of the Wailers set from last year so a bit of a lazy booking there by Electric Picnic.  Especially when One Love festival in the UK was on, on the same weekend, why not Steel Pulse who played Glastonbury this year or Dawn Penn, both playing One Love festival.  Saying that Legend were entertaining enough.

Legend on the Main Stage, Sunday.

Legend on the Main Stage, Sunday.



We went to the Mindfield area to source a place showing the Galway/Kilkenny game, we settled for the News talk tent which had a reasonable size screen but there was too many people there already and could hardly see any of the action.  Galway played great for the first half and showed promise, but come the second half and they lost their power, also the people watching it swelled so we decided to go to the main stage to catch some of Jurassic 5’s set.

Jurassic 5 – Main Stage   3.45 – 4.45 pm.

Jurassic 5 is another lot I know very little about but they were hugely entertaining with their lively hip hop, I actually thought they were much more entertaining than the Wu Tang Clan from two years ago.  And of course they had DJ Nu-Mark in the ranks who I saw at Life festival this year and who is a turntablist legend, so a good time party hip hop group to crank your hangover away to, worth checking out if you get a chance.

We headed back to the crew camp for a rest, well I couldn’t sleep as I could hear about three stages in the main arena where I was, in fact I enjoyed Django Django’s set from my tent which I could hear crystal clear from the Electric Arena and they seemed to of cracked it too with the audience’s reactions, having seen them at Body & Soul festival in 2012, I didn’t mind missing them for the sake of my feet anyway.   I forgot I still had a quarter bottle of Morgans and some coke left so I indulged in some of that.  I gave Kevin a shout about 8 pm and it didn’t look like he was going to wake up proper for a while so I just headed off into the arena myself, stopping off at the Hendrix Londis shop to get an emergency pack of Amber Leaf tobacco just in case I ran out.

Late Edit: I nearly forgot to mention this, I checked out the Despacio tent a few times during the weekend, the first time I took a gander in was on the Friday.  It was a nice unusual tent for Electric Picnic, darker inside and very subtly lit, I walked around having a look at the gigantic speaker racks and went up to the window booth to have a wee stare at James Murphy and the lads from 2ManyDJs, I reckon Murphy was staring back at me wondering who this guy was wandering about the dance floor with a circular instrument (My bodhran) hanging from my back.  The second time was Sunday evening before I met Kevin after his power nap in the camp site, I whipped out my Nikon camera to take a few minutes clip of the dance floor and speaker cabinets.  The music was certainly different from all the other places of entertainment at the festival, both times I was there you could say it was dance music, a bit more downbeat and I seem to get an impression that Murphy and 2ManyDJs are big David Byrne and Talking Heads fans, the music reminded me to an extent of David Byrne’s and Brian Eno’s album My Life in a Bush of Ghosts at times it came across as a post industrial funk with a slow timely dance beat.

About half an hour later I ran into Kevin again so he got up quicker than I thought, we decided to take the crew short cut again to make the start of FKA twigs set at the Electric Arena.

FKA twigs – Electric Arena    9 – 10 pm.

FKA twigs were a different kind of sound, sometimes quite a downbeat trip hop sound and at other times incredibly mesmeric trippy mad electronica.  I was initially put off by her first three numbers being too downbeat but that quickly changed through the set. Tahliah Debrett Barnett has a beautiful voice that can reach amazing heights, I would put her up there with Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins and Alison Goldfrapp.  She is also the most amazing dancer and choreographer I’ve seen in a long time, in fact in one track she was incredibly sexy in her moves turning it into an art form.  For someone I virtually know nothing about but loads of people telling me to go and see her, she is without doubt my new discovery of the festival this year even though I was vaguely aware of her from some Glastonbury footage.  So a FKA twigs CD will be working its way into my music collection very soon.

Paul Kalkbrenner – Rankin Woods   9 – 10.30 pm.

We nipped over next door to Rankin Woods to catch the last half hour of Paul Kalkbrenner’s set, I always wanted to see Paul Kalkbrenner ever since I saw the video clips from the last time he played the Picnic and seeing what I was missing which looked amazing.  He played good hard hitting techno which I had not really experienced this weekend as such unless you count Underworld who had a good hard hitting sound and Jon Hopkins who is his own thing completely, although still good crunchy techno too.  I couldn’t help thinking, how come Kalkbrenner has never played Rave in the Woods, his music is just as good as Klock’s, Sharpe’s and Joy Orbison’s.  Anyway I was glad to catch a bit of Kalkbrenner’s set.

Florence and the Machine – Main Stage   10.30 pm – 12 am.

I enjoyed the four or five songs I saw of Florence while wandering about the main stage area and I can see why she is so popular.  A fiery red head who could probably play a good version of Granuaille if they ever made a movie about the Irish sea pirate.  She has a nice folk quality to her voice, in her softer moments she does remind me of the singing of the Late Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention.  If Robert Plant ever decided to do The Battle of Evermore again, I would choose Florence to sing the female part.  Florence had the audience eating from her hand and she is a great entertainer, but for me I still prefer the lushness of Natasha Khan myself and the beautiful sound of Bat for Lashes.  I would include the video clip I took but have just spotted that Florence is on the UMG roster so I don’t want to risk another copyright strike in my Youtube account after what happened with the Crystal Castles clip from EP 2012.

Tame Impala – Electric Arena   10.45 pm – 12 am.

Tame Impala were another sort of new discovery for me although I did watch their full set on the Lollapalooza video stream, they looked pretty interesting with trippy colours in their back screen projections.  The Australian group has three albums behind them now with Currents the third one getting the showcasing on this tour.  They seem to have a lot of influences in their music like the Beatles, Kinks and Small Faces.  There was one track in particular The Moment I think its called that reminds me of the phasing tricks in the Small Faces Itchycoo Park.  Some of their tracks have a good solid 1970s hard rock sound that you don’t really hear any more, another thing that Tame Impala is bringing back to rock music is the singing in harmonies like the style Pink Floyd used to do.  And the colours, the back projections had some of the most shimmering psychedelic colours.  A thoroughly amazing show and another great discovery, thank you Electric Picnic and Tame Impala, so possibly another 3 Tame Impala CDs will be following FKA twigs into my music collection.

Kevin split for the Body & Soul area and I decided to check out the Rave in the Woods as I hadn’t being up there this weekend yet, if the craic was good I would stay on there, but I also had plans to take in a bit of King Kong Company’s set at Salty Dog and maybe saunter in to Trenchtown too as I had friends from Galway closing a stage there too.  I bumped into a Galway friend Anna on the way so done a little detour in the Oscar Wilde camp site to her tent for a few doobies and met some Derry folk who were her nearby tent neighbours.  Twas good craic and it was great to get a seat with a back for half an hour or so.  They had a nice wee camp fire going which didn’t have camping chairs or tents in it, like I heard of reports about happening in the Hendrix camp site.  I never seen that shit happening in the Hendrix before when I was last staying there in 2013 so that wasn’t a pleasant report to hear about.

I eventually made my way to the Rave in the Woods and it was more like funky cheesy stuff that was emitting from the Red Bull speakers, I forgot that Red Bull had changed direction this year to a sort of deep house, it just didn’t feel the same.  No familiar lasers etching the trees nor that familiar thump! thump! that I’ve got so used to for the last two years at Rave in the Woods.  Ah well I thought, King Kong Company it is then.  Hopefully they will bring back some techno for next year or even some dubstep and drum N Bass as well.

King Kong Company – Salty Dog    1.35 – 3 am.

King Kong Company had a great crowd who was mad to party the whole night through, only catching a bit of their set they had a glorious set of wild riffs and ravey beats on the go.  Mark Graham was in such a good buzz and thanked the audience and Salty Dog avidly for a great end to their summer.  I’m looking forward to reading his crazy adventures into festival land sometime.  But King Kong Company is a great way to end part of the festival off in the Salty Dog, they do Waterford proud to have such a rocking good fun band and are always the life and soul of festivals that they play.

Kevin gave me a text to say he was in Trenchtown so I made my way there to catch the last hour of live entertainment the festival had to offer.

The Dub Doctor & MC Rungus – Live Inna Yard Stage Trenchtown  1.15 – 3 am.

Caught a bit of Donal Dubdoctor and his Galway friends, Geoff Ward on sax and various other things and Brendan Rungus on vocals and another fellah on congos.  A great live dubby sound with Brendan singing and MCing  to close proceedings on the Trenchtown live stage.  A nice sound to skank away to in the early hours.  I also managed to work out a lift from Geoff in the afternoon tomorrow back to Galway so all good.

It was back to Kevin’s for our final night cap before hitting the hay in my own tent.

Monday 7th September.

I awoke late enough at about 11.50 am to find a missed call and text from Geoff asking where I was, this got me a little worried as I thought he may have just left as he couldn’t get in touch, what was worse was that my phone was nearly dying and I had about 25 cent credit left, I tried ringing him a few times but no joy.  He eventually got in touch about half an hour later (phew!) to say he was still onsite so we agreed to meet at Supervalu in Stradbally.  I just had too much to carry to make that trek so I left my camping chair and inflatable mattress in Kevin’s tent as he was working the breakdown for Soul Kids for Monday and his mattress was punctured, mine was in fairly good condition so I thought he would make better use of it.

Oddly enough, back in Galway Kevin messaged me on Facebook the following day, it turns out that when he knocked off his shift at 5 pm on Monday he discovered that someone had nicked his entire tent and mattresses.  Now that is a weird shit thing to happen at the end of your festival especially in the most guarded camp site of the festival, I felt so bad for Kevin.

Anyway until next year, thank you Electric Picnic for another fabulous edition, until next year roll on Electric Picnic 2016.

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Body & Soul Festival 2015 Review, 19th – 21st June, Ireland

DSC04439Sunday 14th June

So second festival of the year and up at the crack of dawn at six in the morning to catch the 7.30 am Galway to Dublin commuter bus, this time the destination was Kinnegad in County Westmeath where my friend and fellow Electric Picnic volunteer from last year, Lisa Lawless kindly gave me a lift to the Ballinlough Castle festival site.

I had to work twenty four hours to gain my wristband for the festival, I was working from 2 pm till 8 pm for the Sunday, 8 pm to 2 pm on Monday and 8 am to 8 pm on Tuesday so two six hour shifts and one twelve hour shift and after that I was free to wander about the festival site taking photos, videos and talking to the other workers setting up the decorations and the festival build.

I basically came with my camping equipment and all the necessaries for the festival stay but it would have been too awkward to bring beer and food too, so I planned to hitch to one of the towns on Monday to remedy the situation.  My job was working the two way radio, this time I was stationed at the top of the road leading down to the Boneyard, so my job was to radio ahead when heavy vehicles, vans and lorries with important equipment arrived, to check if the paths were clear to send them down.  I also directed people seeking accreditation, meetings and briefings to the car park behind me where they had to walk down to the site to prevent the boneyard from being clogged up with traffic or traffic parking where they liked and unnecessarily blocking festival deliveries.

So far, so good, I remembered to take my ipod and speaker with me as sometimes the work can be dull, boring and quiet during the earlier part of the week, I find that music in the background helps me concentrate and work better, it also creates a nice festival vibe for people arriving on the festival site.

As each day progressed it was getting noticeably busier, Monday flew in and by 2 pm I had a hunger so I paid the nine euro for a meal in the crew catering restaurant making sure to take a fine dollop of the salad too and a few coffees.  I also decided to hitch to the nearest town, Clonmellon to get food supplies and a crate of Guinness.

I learnt from last year to always hitch from the production gate as there was always vehicles leaving from there and was lucky to get a lift straight away to the town.  Man, this was a big mistake, Clonmellon had nothing of convenience whatsoever, no atm to check my bank balance, two basic provision shops with no cans of beer for sale and not even proper supermarkets, no packed sandwiches, no deli, individual cereal bars, not packs of cereal bars so very expensive.  I got five cereal bars, a pint of milk, there was no king size bags of peanuts just small ones, so got two of these, two packets of tobacco and cigarette papers the whole lot came to 19.50 Euros of which I got cash back so that I had another spare twenty Euro to spend at the restaurant onsite.  What was worse was that I was dying of bloody thirst and not one of the three or four bars in the town was open.  I even joked with the shop assistant that no wonder buses don’t stop at this town.

This left me a bit perturbed about what to do about the situation and left me with no doubt that outside of this heavenly paradise of Body & Soul, this part of Westmeath was hell, and it gets worse ladies and gentlemen.  I walked half the way back hitching with about thirty cars racing by me on such narrow roads, a dangerous place to be hitching, eventually I was picked by some tourists who dropped me at the 1 km sign to Ballinlough.

When I got back to the festival site I endeavoured to find a better equipped town as I really wanted a celebratory can of Guinness in the beloved crew camp plus I wanted to at least get two packets of packed sandwiches to get me through the twelve hours the following day.  I tried to source a lift with the rest of the crew onsite hopefully someone who was leaving and coming back.  Myself and another volunteer also called Niall heard that security in Gate E the crew camp entrance were due to finish at 8 pm and they were local so they kindly offered us a lift with them to the Daybreak garage in the outskirts of Delvin. If I recall Delvin, it was a pretty enough town with a few historical buildings but with nearly as little shops as Clonmellon.

When we got to the garage, lo and behold there was Guinness, but still no atm to find out my bloody balance, worse still, there was no deli and no pre-packed sandwiches, the only thing I could buy for eating was refrigerated packets of crumpets and some fruit. Myself and Niall then walked back the complete distance of 6.5 kilometres back to the festival site, absolutely tired out and not a soul out of the fifty cars or so that passed offered a lift, I lost a little hope in humanity that day and cursed Westmeath for the hellhole that it is.

Finally the long shift came and it was the busiest of the days so far, my selection of tunes for the day was the first Aphex Twin Soundcloud dump, about a five to six hour file of his outtakes and unreleased tracks from the early to late 1990s.  I would play the music every second hour or so to save the battery and it killed the time greatly.  We had two twenty minute breaks over the twelve hours, a girl was covering for all of us a various times from 2 pm onwards, I got my first break at 3.30 so I ran down to the restaurant but it was closed after serving lunch and I was bloody starving, I managed to scrounge of coffee from the staff at the side of the restaurant though which I paid for.

Now I’m not one to harp on about the food token system but a wee sandwich and a coffee wouldn’t have gone amiss, although in fairness Brian brought me a coffee when I so needed it on Monday. Where were these lovely pizza slices this year, Megan, that yourself and the wonderful and generous Zed gave me when I done the twelve hour shift on the Sunday last year I say this with a slight strop on me, mind you I was the only volunteer I think on a shift that day, come to think of it, where is Zed?  Body and Soul is not right without Zed, come back man. Thank god for Kev’s Kitchen in the crew camp as I ate some great meals there throughout the week and they probably done the best coffees of the festival too.  Its not so bad for weekend volunteers as the festival has started and there are plenty of food stalls open then, but it is harder for volunteers working the advance especially the twelve hour one and even though the work is easy enough it was hot weather to be working out in.

For the next few days I just wandered about the site taking photos of people at work and some of the beautiful decorations appearing in the wood.

Kev's Kitchen.

Kev’s Kitchen.


Decor girls at work.

Decor girls at work.

Decorations destined for the woods.

Decorations destined for the woods.

The build in the Walled Garden.

The build in the Walled Garden.

Putting the finishing touches to the arch.

Putting the finishing touches to the arch.

Signs to tell you every which way.

Signs to tell you every which way.

Folk working on an installation opposite one of the woods stages.

Folk working on an installation opposite one of the woods stages.

Body & Soul this year was a reuniting of people I worked with over the last few years at Life, Body & Soul and Electric Picnic, there was Dave Curran from EP and Liss Ard festivals from the last few years, Fionn Brooks and Shane, Phelim, Patrick Long, Kevin Keehan who worked all three festivals and possibly more, Mikey Joyride Soro who gave me that wonderful Body & Soul metal flask of which only two hundred was made as gifts for pre-event staff.  There was Megan Best, Toby Hatchet, Ray and many others too, although Abdul the security guard from Life was missing.  And a whole bunch of others when the festival kicked off such as Ciaran and Jackie, Geoff Ward, Aminah and Phil, Nidge, Ben and Laurie Purkiss and loads of others. Brian Watters, Sharlene from the festival traffic management team and our volunteer coordinator, Sharon Cronin.   Also thank you to the lovely girls in the crew camp who took my bank card out to Mullingar and withdrew forty Euro for me when I really needed it on Wednesday.

Fionn Brooks, all round festival handy man worker.

Fionn Brooks, all round festival handy man.



Patrick Long.

Patrick Long.

Sharon Cronin and another worker.

Sharon Cronin and another worker.

The Volunteer tent.

The Volunteer tent.

Brian Watters.

Brian Watters.

Sharlene and Brian.

Sharlene and Brian.

Ballinlough Castle.

Ballinlough Castle.

The lovely farmhouse in the centre of the production area.

The lovely farmhouse in the centre of the production area.

Thursday 18th June.

You are probably thinking at this stage that I’ve not reached the fecking music yet, but this is as much about the volunteering experience and the music will come in time too. Thursday things started to get really busy, all the weekend volunteers arrived onsite in the glorious sunshine.  Simon Outram, Conor Dolan, James Fahy, Danyl Hartshorn and his girlfr Samantha, Tracy Webbstar, Fluffy, Chris Lavelle, Louise Borre, Craig who was working with Kevin at Soul Kids, Jan Huisman from Holland who was volunteering at his first Irish festival and many others.  I also got a chance through Kevin to visit the Soul Kids area before it became restricted in the weekend to families with the B&S family ticket, I also got a chance to revisit the Gameltron (bigger this time round) and Holistic area.  Thursday night a bunch of us went exploring the woods and the main arena, some of the stages were blasting out music and testing their systems, we hung about the Port Royal reggae area for a while but eventually got chased out of there as there was still work to be done in preparation for the festival.  By far the most impressive sound system on Thursday night was the Absolut Art Bar who were blasting out Moderat tracks from the groups two albums and we got to see a bunch of acrobats rehearsing in the centre which was pretty amazing.  I never did catch them in full flow during the festival but I was well impressed with the Absolut stage, it blended into Body & Soul perfectly.  Worst tent was the Vodafone tent, a white basic tent, for gods sake, try and blend in people.

The Absolut Art Bar.

The Absolut Art Bar.

Simon Outram.

Simon Outram.

Louise Borre.

Tracy Webbstar, Craig, Louise Borre.

Conor Dolan and Myself.

Conor Dolan and Myself.

James Fahy and Conor.

James Fahy and Conor.

Kevin Keehan and Simon.

Kevin Keehan and Simon.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Friday 19th June.


Finally the weekend arrived and with it apparently anything from one and a half to three hours queues from the car park to the main camp site, or so I heard anyway.  Finally there was an atm onsite and the festival hadn’t opened yet so no long queue to withdraw cash as yet.  I made off to the Pig Tails food stall for a full Irish breakfast in the main stage arena and chilled at the camp site till the festival opened up proper.  Dave Curran was finishing his first shift at 8 pm and he said he was going on a beer run, the joys of having someone with a car, I needed to replenish some Guinness myself so said I would meet up with him then.

Grounds For Invasion – Midnight Court 6.45 – 7.15 pm.

Grounds for Invasion is described as a mix of trip-hop, electro-pop, industrial and post rock and Tracy Friel and Will O’Connor are the brains behind the sound.  They had an expansive electronic sound alright and the cool lights and visual backdrop of the Midnight Circus tent led an otherworldly feel to the whole gig, Friel has a nice soulful feel to her vocals and the group reminded me of a main stage act from Life Festival 2013 called White Collar Boy.  I didn’t stay for the full set as I wanted to take in a much acts on the opening night as possible so that I had a balance of some rock and some electronica music.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

The next hour or two was spent going on the beer run, waiting for Dave to check out from his shift, getting to the Delvin garage where I got me two cases of Guinness, tobacco, some extra skins and the walk back to the crew camp, where we rested and had a few cans before going back into the arena at 10.30 pm.

Steven Sharp & the Broke Straight Boys – Bulmer’s Lounge 10.45 – 11.15 pm.

I really enjoyed this mad Galway rock group with a dash of the camp, Steven Sharp and the Broke Straight Boys.  Steven Sharp was in drag and set the outrageous tone with some campish high energy punk rock, comedy and theatrical madness. They were a perfect Body & Soul fixture and I’m very glad to have caught some of their set, I think Dave was impressed were their crazy set too.

New Jackson – Midnight Court 10.45 – 11.45 pm.

Dublin DJ New Jackson has been described by Resident Advisor as a producer who makes nocturnal house with a ghostly disco tint.  I caught the last quarter of his set where he had a healthy rammed Midnight Court audience in the palm of his hands, the heat inside the tent was intense with limbs moving avidly and hands punching the air to his housey electronica, I think New Jackson is worthy of further investigation.

Savages – Main Stage 11.30 pm – 12.05 am

This London band seemed fairly familiar and then I remembered seeing them on the Jools Holland Show a few years ago, described as post-punk revival and noise rock, they did had a violent jaggy energy about them. lead singer Jehnny Beth is a powerful vocalist with a hard driving set of musicians, they didn’t have a packed stage but there was a good four to five hundred gathered so more of a cult audience but they packed a punch.  Their set a mixture of stuff culled from EPs and their 2013 album, Silence Yourself, a good sub headliner before Lamb.

A short journey back to crew camp to get some more cans, have a brief sit down and a chat to whoever was there at the time and back into the Arena to catch a bit of the Lamb set.

Lamb – Main Stage 1 – 2 am

This was my first time catching Lamb who have been around for years since the mid-nineties anyway, its kinda hard to describe their sound, indie electronic rock ballads if that makes any sense at all.  Lou Rhodes has a strong powerful voice, at times almost in a kinda folky vein and Andy Barlow provides some tasteful electronica to the sound.  But after a while it was a wee bit too slow for me and wanted something with a bit more thump and lively so headed up to the Midnight Court to catch the last twenty minutes of the Talaboman set.

Talaboman – Midnight Court 11.50 pm – 1.50 am

Talaboman is two Spanish DJs known as John Talabot and Axel Bowman who play a mixture of house and techno and tech-house too, they had a great sound pumping and a fairly packed tent, this is one of the many collaborations happening this year and seems to be getting popular, with the likes of Braekes (Mr Ozio and Boys Noise) or SiriusModselektor (Siriusmo and Modeselektor) at Life Festival.  The electronic duo made for an excellent close to the Midnight Court for the Friday night.

Upcoming Tour Dates

It was when making tracks back through to the wood from the main arena that I realised how packed it was, streams of people coming in both directions, I felt it was over the capacity the festival could handle, security had to be posted in the middle of the crowd to free the flow and prevent collisions, making parts of the path for each direction.  I turned back into the arena again as I intended to spend the last few hours in the Port Royal area, but kept forgetting the entrance was not in the wood this time but the main arena.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Revelation Sound featuring Rankin Fox – Port Royal 12.50 – 4 am.

This was a nice mix of roots reggae songs and dub reggae, so nice to chill to this mix of sounds, I met various randomers where we talked about Body & Soul, the Picnic and various other festivals, some familiar faces, Ben and Laurie, Conor and Simon among others.  Security ushered everyone out come four am, so a reverse back to the security style of 2013 although the free-flow alcohol policy was still in place, last year you could wander aimlessly about the arena and woods any time, we were up to eight in the morning last year wandering about the arena.  Still,  I can’t complain twas a good night of sounds.

Back to the camp site where I sat down at Kevin’s tent listening to Leftfield tracks and smoking a few and some cans of porter and eventually up to my own tent at about 5.30 in the morning, some of the neighbours still awake and partying, a good night.

Saturday 20th June.

Kev’s Kitchen was still doing coffees in the mornings of the festival which was absolutely perfect as it was only a few steps from my tent, it was also popular with Kevin my mate, the coffee guaranteed to bring you into wakefulness fairly quickly and it was quite a cute set up with the three filter holes cut into the table and the coffee being let to drip in the cup.

This was also the second morning I made a trip to the Charcoal Grill at the front of the Walled Garden for a steak burger, one of the sure delicious things to set you up proper for the day, I seemed to influenced Dave on Friday night and Kevin on Saturday morning that a steak burger was the way to go, there is a wee concrete seat just down from the food stall that was perfect to sit on and was always empty.

The weather for the weekend had been mostly perfect and almost as good as last year, some small rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and a small bit in Friday morning, but mainly sunny and dry or a bit cloudy and dry, certainly a lot warmer than Life festival three weeks before.  Myself and Kevin thought it a good idea to make a trip to Port Royal for some soothing reggae sounds.

Will Softly – Port Royal  12 – 2 pm.

Will was playing reggae classics such as Dawn Penn, Marley, Peter Tosh, Andy Capp, Desmond Dekker & the Israelites and Toots and the Maytals among others, lovely music to achieve that soft bouncy skank for the afternoon.  The sun would stream in and light parts of the reggae arena up beautifully, although Kevin did note that because the area was surrounded with trees it could be quite shady, windy and cool in there too.

So we made the decision to go out into the main arena to get a bit more of the sun, for the time of the afternoon it was getting steadily busy with plenty of people letting go to the funk blasting out of the cool ice cream van in the Bulmer’s area of the main arena.

Cool ice cream van blasting out the funk in the main arena.

Cool ice cream van blasting out the funk in the main arena.

Midnight Circus Tent.

Midnight Circus Tent.

Trying out the Gyroscope in the main arena.

Trying out the Gyroscope in the main arena.

I used this time to walk about the woods and to take photos of some of the fine work of the Decor people and their volunteers had taken long hours pre-festival to complete.



The Reckless in Love Stage.

The Treehaus Stage formerly known as Reckless in Love .

A cute kid and their luxury mode of travel.

A cute kid and his luxury mode of travel.

First live music of the day for me was catching a wee bit of Asgeir’s set at the Body & Soul main stage around early Saturday evening.

Asgeir – Main Stage 6 – 7 pm.

Icelander Asgeir and his band had a variety of styles, folky rock ballads and some interesting electronica sounds in the mix, some of it reminding me of John Grant’s set last year, it was only when I read up on Asgeir in the Wikipedia page that I realised the John Grant had some hand in producing Asgeir’s album In the Silence the English version of the album translated from the Icelandic version Dýrð í dauðaþögn.  Asgeir was an interesting early evening act but maybe a little too soft for me, I wanted something a little more kicking which is exactly what I got at the Midnight Circus in the next field.

Alo Wala  – Midnight Circus  6.15 – 7.15 pm.

When walking up to the Midnight Circus the sound coming out of there made me speed up, a mixture of tense bassy beats and rapping double speak, this was exactly what my early evening tonic needed.  Alo Wala was incredible and she filled up the marquee in no time at all, her chemistry intoxicating.  Alo Wala is a hybrid of styles and not too dissimilar to Buraka Som Sistema who played Body & Soul last year, as described in the Body & Soul notes about the band they are a hybrid of hip hop, dancehall, Chicago local club DJs and multi-lingual rappers.  From Body & Souls very own words, Alo Wala, “Meaning ‘the light vendor’ in a Bengali and Hindu melange, Alo Wala is a live electronic music band employing the a host of global influences on their sonic palette.  Featuring Chicago-born rapper Shivani Ahlowalia and Tropical Bass pioneers Copia Doble Systema, the live show swanks energetically-charged vocals delivered by Shivani; hefty percussion from boy wonder Julius Sylvest; bombastic uproar from the original tropical viking, Copyflex and hypnotically magniloquent live visuals from VJ Mad Es.”  Shivani has an incredible charisma and her miraculous articulate double speak rapping was something to behold, us the audience utterly mesmerised by this incredible sound for an early evening act.  The silver dress Shivani was wearing gave the illusion almost that she was either on stilts or just a very tall woman but I will be checking out more about this band, incredible stuff, she also reminded me a wee bit about another female rapper called Mia.

I just wandered about the woods after this and no doubt, back to the crew camp to get more beers, interspersing between drinking water, the occasional coffee and the odd Guinness.  I noticed something of a tendency with the smaller stages in the woods, most of the DJs there would crossover playing the same old generic pop funk, I don’t know how many times I heard Funky Town or Dance, Dance, Dance but they seemed to be cropping up all the time, it was becoming a bit like 2FM at times, a bit of a cheese fest.  We need a bit more variation, that’s why a lot of us missed the My House location as Toby would have DJs as well as himself throwing reggae into the mix or more eclectic funk like Hot Chocolate’s Everyone’s a Winner or even a rollicking Led Zeppelin track.  It has to be noted we are not all disco divas in the festival audience so vary it a little, dudes, please. Another venue missing this year that added to the melting pot of sound was Natasha’s Kitchen which used to have a nice mix of trad and lively gypsy music.

Myself and Kevin wandered up to the Bulmer’s Lounge in the Walled Garden where Galway’s Tracy Bruen and band were playing to a nice crowd in the venue, a mixture of folk and good time rock n roll.

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Treehaus Stage 10 – 10.30 pm.

Now this was a strange electronic pop and rock band with all the members in red hazmat suits kind of like the ones wore by the medics who were tackling the Ebola outbreak earlier in the year in the US and Africa.  Their music coming across like a mix of Devo and Joy Divison with wind instruments thrown in.  Someone in Body & Soul must trawl these strange venues in Dublin thinking, wow this band looks quite ludicrous and strange, they’ll do.  I enjoyed SlowPlaceLikeHome, a strange nutty group in a strange nutty stage.  I also took a photo of another light installation suspended in amongst the trees near the Treehaus stage.

SlowPlaceLikeHome - Treehaus Stage.

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Treehaus Stage.

A gorgeous light installation near the Treehaus stage.

A gorgeous light installation near the Treehaus stage.

Throughout the weekend I also liked to take photos of the spotlight lit trees, one of my favourite things about Body & Soul festival.

Spotlight lit tree.

Spotlight lit tree.

A spotlight lit tree.

A spotlight lit tree.

A distant relation to the Glowhole Installation in main arena.

A distant relation to the Glowhole Installation in main arena.

Myself and Kevin met up with Dave Curran who was on his way to catch the start of Warp act Clark at the Midnight Circus, so I thought that would be a good idea myself, I was in the mood for some brain melting electronica.  Met Geoff Ward a good friend of mine who was playing with his nine piece ska band Big Jelly throughout the weekend at the festival, he reminded me to come to the Bulmer’s Lounge the following day for the next gig.

Clark – Midnight Circus  10.50 – 11.50 pm.

Clark had a wicked electronic sound and he was super intense, he had some of the glitchiness of Four Tet and Hopkins, mad frenetic spin off beats in the Squarepusher style. Wikipedia gives a brief synopsis of his style: “He often experiments with forms of degradation, distortion and decay associated with different mediums, employing techniques such as re-recording samples and field-recordings in different environments.” I’ll tell you something, Clark gave me my electronica overload for the night, he was absolutely superb and a nice discovery.  I think Dave and Kevin found him a little too electronically heavy but I loved it.

Twin Headed Wolf – Wonderlust Stage  11.45 – 12.15 pm.

From the electronically absurd world of Clark to the sweet, gentle old time folk of Clare twin sisters Twin Headed Wolf, Julie and Branwen captivated a packed Wonderlust audience with their vaudeville inspired old time folk and traditional music and despite the sound bleed from two other stages near by they handled their show with remarkable aplomb.  Some of their melancholic stuff reminded me of Amercian songster, Edith Frost. They got a rapturous applause at the end of their set and that famous roar of ‘One more tune’ where they returned for a song.  Myself and Dave were persuaded by Kevin, a Clare man himself to come to this show and there was no regrets whatsoever.  Hopefully I’ll catch them the next time in Galway in a more intimate venue.

I think we tried to wander back into the main arena to Port Royal but found the passage way too packed so decided to stay in the woods for a while, the place was just far too busy. B&S will need to rethink the capacity as with the 8,500 punters last year there still seemed to be enough room, this time everywhere seemed decidedly wedged and it could get very tiring just getting from A to B through that throng.  We headed back to Kevin’s tent at the crew camp as there seemed to be space in there and had a few smokes and some cans.  I ended up having an early night in the end as I don’t think I could’ve faced going out into that throng again plus the Clark gig more that satisfied me for my electronic fix for the day. Incidentally I heard the woods was cleared at 3.30 am due to the gathering crowd by security so there must have been a health and safety issue near the close to Saturday.

Sunday 21st June.

Today I woke early enough at about 9 am, was well rested so off for a coffee and a bite to eat, actually I went to Kev’s Kitchen and got one of his coffees and got a bite later, I remember Jamaican/Irish man Brendan Rungus telling me about his Jamaican porridge, Brendan runs the Galway cafe Jamaica Joe’s and was up handling the catering needs of the stoned famished people, so I vowed to go to Port Royal to try some Jamaican porridge.  I spotted Kevin heading to Kev’s too, another fan of their coffee.

So off we go for a walkabout to the main arena and into Port Royal for a bite, I met Michelle who was avidly devouring a bowl of said porridge, so ordered up one myself and it was just what the doctor ordered, absolutely delicious, Brendan had ran out of spoons so I had to use a wooden fork, but it was worth it.

Jamaican Porridge.

Jamaican Porridge.

SOAK – Main Stage  2.45 – 3.15 pm.

Wandering about the main stage arena, SOAK was creating a nice atmosphere on the main stage for the Sunday afternoon, the Derry singer and songwriter had just been playing in Galway a few nights before and had a fairly attentive audience in tow playing a selection from her recently released album How to Dream the month previously.

Ensemble Eriu – Bulmer’s Stage 2.45 – 3.15 pm.

Ensemble Erui are a 7 piece traditional folk rock group with a nice flair for the pure drop but with interesting combinations of backing in a contemporary feel that doesn’t loose the essence of the music and rooted in the tradition of West and North Clare music.  I just caught about ten minutes of their gig, as I sat down to eat a steak burger and was delighted to catch a little bit of traditional music.  With concertina, fiddle, drum kit, guitar, marimba, double bass, flute and tin whistle, clarinet and electronics too, it was a nice sound to wash the hangover away too.

Big Jelly – Bulmer’s Stage  4 – 4.45 pm.

Nine piece Galway ska band Big Jelly was the ‘pick me up’ tonic needed to get the partying off to a nice start for Sunday afternoon, my friend Geoff Ward on the saxophone, a trumpet player, two other brass instrument players, a bassist and drummer.  Knocking out classics such as Roland Alphonso’s Phoenix City, loads of ska classics and the band had a few loonies out at the front throwing shapes to the music.  Nothing like a bit of ska to lift the spirits.

Chah Wallahs tent in the distance, taken on Thursday.

Chah Wallahs tent in the distance, taken on Thursday.

Chah Wallahs.

Chah Wallahs.

Inside Chah Wallahs, the gorgeous net sides.

Inside Chah Wallahs, the gorgeous net sides.

Art work in Chah Wallahs.

Art work in Chah Wallahs.

I met Geoff again in the main arena, he was having a bite at one of the dining tables, so I went and got a pulled pork sandwich and sat down to join him.  Geoff was impressed and not impressed with the Body & Soul festival, he felt it was more safer than the Picnic but for getting info from stewards or security he felt it was a mess.  When he told me that the musician and performer camp was next to the main camp site, I thought that rather strange, as I’m sure loads of musicians camped in the crew camp last year.  Not only this but I heard there was a lot of robberies in the main camp site as well as Geoff’s camp site when money and instruments got stolen.  There was even one or two robbing incidents in the crew camp even with a few security around.  Myself and Geoff went up to the crew camp for a pipe and he almost didn’t get in because of his green wristband, but the security guard realised he wasn’t going to be staying there for the night, so was grand for half an hour or so.

I wandered up to the main stage area and caught the last ten minutes of Matthew E. White’s set where his chilled psychedelic blues rock was just the ticket for the balmy Sunday evening and despite the audience’s protest of one more tune, it was obvious that the roadies were dissembling the gear and he may have went over the clock already, while the stage was being prepared for the next act.

Matthew E. White - Main Stage.

Matthew E. White – Main Stage.

Clu – Midnight Circus 6.45 – 7.30 pm.

Clu made a nice thought provoking electronic palette of sound, crisp electronic pop with a nice ambient swirl, the Dublin based musicians had a nice attentive audience swaying to their sound.  Breaking Tunes states that they were inspired by 1980’s science fiction films, contemporary dance, 8 bit computer graphics and arcade soundtracks… Clu works by fusing music and visual arts together.  An interesting group worthy of further investigation.

Caught a wee bit of the next main stage act too called Rhye, comprising a Canadian singer Milosh and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal and two other musicians, making a nice alternative rock sound and a decent crowd gathered at the stage, this was just one of these moments of discovery, I had never heard of Rhye before but they did the job for some lively entertainment.  I only really caught about five minutes as I was on my way back to crew camp to rest for a while before the electronica overload of James Holden and then Leftfield.

Rhye - Main Stage.

Rhye – Main Stage.

James Holden Live – Midnight Court  9.15 – 10.15 pm.

I was so glad to catch this guy, I couldn’t believe it when he was a no show last year, although not his fault.  I was initially expecting him to do a DJ set but live is live, he had the proper works, some synthesizers and other equipment, a live drummer and saxophone player.  He looked like a mad professor over his equipment constantly tweaking at his sound.  Beautiful dreamy synth sequences kind of like the sound from his album The Inheritors but not recognisable from the record, until about half through his set he dropped a nice live work out of Blackpool Late Eighties.  The combination of a live drum kit and an exceptional drummer at that and saxophone mixed in with Holden’s electronica made for a vast rock sound that rivals some of Pink Floyd’s stuff and Nicholas Jaar’s Dark Side from Body & Soul last year.  A brilliant gig and a very gifted bunch of musicians.

James Holden - Midnight Circus.

James Holden – Midnight Circus.

Leftfield – Main Stage    10.40 pm – 12 am.

Sheets of transparent plastic with small spaces in between greeted me as I stared at the main stage, I wondered their purpose, something decidedly futuristic, yeah, that could go with the Leftfield sound.  When the music started up, it became obvious the the sheets were used to project visuals on while partly obscuring the live band, which you could sometimes see.  The music was pretty good though and the new album Alternative Light Source got a liberal airing, great trademark building blocks of Leftfield sound.  I only heard the new album once and it was in my office at work, I listened to the Guardian stream of the album at a very low volume, I liked what I heard, but no trance out ambient stuff like Melt, one of my favourites from Leftism.  The only new track I really knew was Universal Everything which is a barnstormer of a techno number and the reason why I captured the intro the way I did on the video clip, its such a powerful cruncher of a track.

We got some oldies too, I was delighted to hear Inspection: Check One as Cheshire Cat mentions Body & Soul in the lyrics, well at least the live version anyway.  The band closed with the wild Phat Planet, the sound twisting and distorting until it became a finely distilled thump of lively techno and fizz….. the end.  Was that Averill that came out to explain why the music stopped, they did say it stopped at twelve and it did.  But a damn fine night of music from the bigger stages and some of the smaller ones too.

The Wonderlust Stage, formally the Upstage from B&S edition 2012.

The Wonderlust Stage, formally the Upstage from B&S edition 2012.

So back to put up my feet for a while at the camp, I have an inflatable mattress this time so I partly use it as a seat in my tent and damn comfortable it is too, I used to rely on two thin foam mats and the camping ground can be tough on the body where you are slowly bruising.  Well Louise was the first back, followed by Fluffy, Chris and then Simon, Conor and a bunch of others, I still had three cans of Guinness left so all good, we took a trip out to the woods again towards the Treehaus stage that was actually pumping out some decent techno courtesy of the Taste DJs.  There was a fair crowd here bopping to the sounds and some folk who decided to do a chain thing with all their friends, sitting down and interlinking in a circle, funny stuff.

Just as we headed back to the camp didn’t the DJs drop Daniel Avery’s Knowing We’ll be Here, but as quickly as it came on it was faded out after a minute and the decks went silent.  So I took out my Ipod and speaker from the knapsack and put on the track again, a security guard walked up to me, I thought he was going to tell me to turn it off but he said, ‘Fuuuuccckkking Tuuuuunnnne!  Didn’t I just hear this in the big system.’, that was exactly the reason I put it on, I wanted to hear it fully and just played the Drone Logic album until the Ipod battery went flat.  I think we stayed up till about three or four in the morning and then I had to black out.

Monday 22nd June.

The aftermath, the water is turned off and security are asking everyone to go, Kevin is working the breakdown for the Soul Kids area and said to me I could get a lift when he finishes.  Some of the lads and lassies fancy staying on for another day but its not to be, security want everyone off the land apart from legitimate festival break down workers so we all part our ways.  we didn’t leave till about six thirty after getting a bite at the restaurant and I made it to Galway for nine, when Kevin took me to the city centre to play my session at Tigh Cholis, was like a zombie but it was good to be back in the auld ceoil.

Till next year folks I bid you goodbye and will see ya at the Picnic and possibly some others this summer.  I’ll leave you with this image of production volunteer Chris Lavelle after a particularly heavy weekend of partying, it sums up what Body & Soul does to you.

Its been a hectic weekend.

Its been a hectic weekend.

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Life Festival 2015, Ireland 29th – 31st May Review


Having arrived on site in the 24th May Sunday, fellow volunteer Jonathan saved my skin by picking me up at Tyrrellspass and bringing me to the crew campsite at Belvedere House.  I travelled the Citylink Galway – Dublin commuter bus which came nearest to the festival site at 12 kilometres from Tyrrellspass in County Westmeath.  I was lucky to have the tent up in time before a torrential downpour attacked.  Weather was very different this year, it was tough sitting about the campsite and not being froze by the icy breeze, but myself and Jonathan braved it with a few cans of Guinness and some assorted sounds from Mr Ipod and Music Angel Friendz speaker.  Danyl another volunteer appeared later in the night and we were three.

More volunteers arrived on Monday and we were just hanging about the production area as spare hands when the call was needed to put up fencing or to change it around again. Foxy was the main man who would find us work and Lorcan too along with other crew, Foxy regaling us with funny stories of festivals gone past.  Over the following few days more familiar faces from last years build appeared.  We attempted a camp fire one or two nights to beat the cold but was curtailed by fair enough words from one of the Life bosses, Ronan.  Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty laid back days, many of the site crew were off doing their things around site, while we waited at the volunteers office for them to ask for help.  When we did get work the bloody weather would drive me spare, one minute it would be lashing rain and wind, which I would suitably prepare for and in the next minute it would be boiling hot and you would have to discard the layers again.  It was great to have showers this time and of course, Life festival treats its workers like royalty when it comes to being fed, two fairly decent meals a day and breakfast in the morning too.

I agreed to work an extra day as I would have been just milling around the site bored I suppose, I certainly wasn’t going back to Galway for the night and it would be nice to have the meals on Thursday too.  It has to be said though, Thursday was the hardest day and why wouldn’t it be, it was the final day of preparation before the festival kicked off the following day.  I done scrimming, helped the lads change the fences again, put heavy old carpets over the wires leading from the mixing desk to the main stage.  Man! I was glad when that day ended and I got that final meal, let the partying commence.


The Sim Simma Stage.

Side FX Stage (Psy-Trance)

Side FX Stage (Psy-Trance)

The Bulmer's Stage (Main Stage from last year)

The Bulmer’s Stage (Main Stage from last year)

Heras Fencing, the festivals best friend.

Heras fencing, a festivals best friend.

The back of the Red Bull Arena Tent.

The back of the Red Bull Arena Tent.

Friday 29th May

I had no one on the agenda really to see this day or didn’t really know the line up bill for Friday, all I know was I kept running to the covered stages as rain showers were as frequent as the unz unz unz emitting from all the stages.  I was delighted that Aminah Dastan and her boyfriend. Philip Fahy were at the festival running a neat wee cafe in the psy trance area, so I hung about there drinking a few Americanos and had a delightful smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.  The music blasting out of the Side FX stage was a dark psy trance, heavy beats, dark bass and twisted electronics with a healthy dose of new world mutants shaking their thang to the sounds.  I’m quite certain that the music was by Alien Angel as I dropped over to the Side FX about eight in the evening, but it was nice that the psy stage had a cover this time as psy trancers must have got very soaked last year.

I mostly just floated from stage to stage, next port of call was the Simma Down reggae and bass music area, the Liquid Tent re imagined in a more kind of Jamaican vibe. The Sim Simma stage a smaller version of the liquid tent and the Sim Simma 2 stage, a pick up van converted into another stage with an interesting array of speakers to each side of it and lovely little nooks and crannys to sit into away from the rain, the area also had a Body & Soul visitor from last year, the Glowhole installation and ping pong tables and seating areas each side of the brown tent stage.

I caught a few acts on the Sim Simma 2 stage as well, one of them my next door neighbour in the crew campsite, giving a fine mix of bass music, hip hop, reggae, jungle and drum n bass.  I’m not sure which is which, so going by the timetable, Slim Tim, Johnny Hammond, Docktah Irie.

I was trooping around with other fellow volunteers and some of the weekend ones too, such as the lovely Hannah, Ben & Laurie Purkiss, Danyl and his girlfriend.  At one point I trooped up to the volunteers office to collect my phone and I met James Fahy and Conor Dolan from Galway who had been waiting for Fran Hogan (our volunteer coordinator) to get their shift schedule for the weekend volunteering.

The rain came on quite heavy and I headed back to my tent for a rest and some shelter, staying for an hour or two before the heavy shower subsided.  Hannah called up after her shift and Ben and Laurie later where we had a few tins and some spliffs before venturing out to the arena after midnight or later, I’m not really too sure at this stage.  It was more likely about 1 or 2 am as I had some decent sounds myself that everyone seemed to enjoy anyway.

When we did hit the arena, parts of it became a soggy muddy mess, so we had to stick to the edge of the path so we didn’t get stuck in the quagmire of muck.  The rain eventually went off and we ventured to the Sim Simma 2 stage again catching a bit of the DJ Easy Yves set that had a sizeable crowd going loopy, I met Sam and Darragh there too, I think this was one of Darragh’s favourite areas as I would meet him throughout the weekend there.

We moved over to the brown tent stage where the closing act for Friday was the Sim Simma Soundsystem, an eclectic bunch of nutters and rappers who would take turns at toasting and trying to out toast each other, a hugely entertaining act and a nice selection of Jamaican inspired hip hop and bass heavy tunes.  We stayed until the very last note and the sun came out to usher in the dawn, although it was still fairly cold by all means.

We trooped off to catch the last set on the District 8 stage, RSCH14 who was playing a lovely ambient techno that could only complement the sunshine, the music still had a hard edge which kept you moving otherwise it was just too cold to just stand there.  When the music finished there, we all rushed over to the Hunt & Gather Circus tent which was blasting out Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Georgio Moroder’s scintillating keyboard riff alas that was the final number of the last music for Friday.

Back to the campsite for a night cap or morning cap tin, a blether and some sounds before we all hit the sack.

Saturday 30th May.

Woke up and headed over to the Charcoal Grill for a steak burger and a coffee, for me anyway this is a handy breakfast if nothing else tickles your fancy.  headed into the arena about five in the evening to do a bit of exploring or simply to shelter from rain storms.  headed to the Side FX to say hello to Aminah and found that the delightful Deirdre Mullins from Galway was there too to give them a hand at the cafe, Aminah gave me a coffee on the house which was well appreciated.  I soaked up some of the sounds from the stage courtesy of Dubtek and Jimajama who followed after.  Sometimes I like to go up close and watch the DJ in action, the music was pumping and in this corner of the world this is exactly what this audience wanted.  I suppose psytrance works as a form of improvisation that gets phased and twisted, stops/starts and another synth sequence mixed in.  Like I’ve said before though, I can take only twenty minutes normally of this stuff and I have to move on or else it just sounds all the same.  A psytrance artist I could watch no problem for a full set though has to be Sphongle, I have wonderful memories of his 2008 set at the 2nd Galway edition of Life.

Went off to the Sim Simma area again where luck would have it, one of my old Life/Body&Soul bosses, Mikey Joyride was playing a set in the Simma brown tent stage, it was a reunion of a sort as the last festival I was at was Electric Picnic 2014 where I caught Mikey’s set at the Body & Soul Upstage tent and they played Dawn Penn’s No,no,no one of my favourite reggae tracks of all time.

Back to the campsite to find my timetable, I don’t get this, the timetables available to the volunteers only have three stages, where are the other five, that does not make any sense. I’m also starting to get tired of the trekking about, its become laboured now because the mud is spreading and starting to get into my tent, my wellies and boots a mess.  There are lots of hilly bits around the site so I’m feeling myself getting breathless sometimes, my tobacco habit not helping the situation.  I initially had a full plan to catch Warp stalwart Luke Vibert, then Panthu De Prince and Squarepusher on the main stage but tiredness caught up with me.

In my second visit to the arena I made for the Red Bull tent to catch Luke Vibert for the first time.

Luke Vibert – Red Bull Stage 8.30 – 10 pm

Luke Vibert is more housey than Aphex Twin but just as good, although both have played together a long time Luke had a wholly original sound that was fresh and delightful, he actually looked like Richard with his ponytail, Chris Cunningham looks like him too so they must have come from some Aphex cloning factory.  Saying that, Vibert’s music was lovely and bouncy with beautiful clean synths more akin the the Selected Ambient Works vol 1 vibe rather than the darker brain dancey stuff that comes out of Warp and there was a fair crowd in the Red Bull arena to catch his set.  I was well impressed with his music and I hope to catch him some time soon again.

I was getting hungry again and decided for a pizza from the blue bus, half the bus packed by people with no intention of buying food and smoking in the area, the pizza though was delicious.  I stared out the window at the advancing rain which was picking up again and considered setting my alarm for the Panthu and Squarepusher sets and having a lie down in the tent.  I went back over to the Red Bull Stage to catch a bit of High Contrast’s set which was pretty captivating, power drum n bass and jungle, I started to get a sore back so reverted to plan A to have a wee lie down in my tent.

When the alarm went to go off to the main stage I heard the rain smattering fiercely off my tent, figured, well I seen Squarepusher back in 2012 at the Picnic, went fuck it, was nice and snug in my sleeping bag so went back to sleep and didn’t wake up till six in the morning so the Saturday schedule was done.  Laid awake for an hour or two and the sun decided to come out so went for a wander and got the munchies again so had a chicken burger and wandered about with my sounds around the main campsite meeting folk I worked with in the 2012 Life festival breakdown there.  Went back to my tent and crashed out again.

Sunday 31st May.

When I woke again its was off for the coffee and breakfast wrap from the Smoothie stall, it has to be said, the choice was quite limited for takeaway stalls at the festival, no Pieministers or Wok n’ Rolls, but some of the ones there were grand enough.

Sunday made for a more balanced day where I took in a lot more acts, I also found when you got to really muddy bits I used the hillsides to escape the muck, it was handy for the aul call of nature too occasionally.

I had a great chat with the security guard Abdul who was stationed at the crew camp, we talked about the music we both liked and festivals and how they reflected the counter-culture that we grew up with, I think Abdul enjoyed the chat too.  I think he is working Body & Soul festival too so I hope to meet up with him there or I hope he gets the job working at the crew camp area.

On with the music then.  Into the arena I go and  make straight for the Sim Simma area for a sit down in one of the sheltered areas near the Sim Simma 2 stage, seemingly a joint rolling haven with the appropriate music at hand courtesy of Manma Saor and some of the Sim Simma DJs after that.  I wandered to the other side of the arena to Side FX to say hello to Aminah and co and listen to a bit of psytrance madness by Energy Collective.

The weather being a bit mellower today I stayed in the arena longer.  I caught a bit of the Dirty Dubsters live set on the main stage who had a good reggae/rap vibe going on, it looked like some of the rappers from the Sim Simma Soundsystem were involved too and it was a seriously good tonic for this afternoons proceedings, energised Jamaican hip hop infused jungle and drum n bass a good kickstart for Sunday.  I took a walk towards the Bacardi stage as I hadn’t really looked at that area properly because the weather had been so awful most of the time.

DJ Nu-Mark – Bacardi Stage 4,30 – 6pm.

DJ Nu-Mark blew me away with his turntablism skills and he had a great rapport with the crowd, the sun came out and when the sun comes out in the lakeside area with no wind, its a gorgeous place to be.  Nu-Mark was playing some disco, funk and soul classics, some of which were a bit cheesy but he put his own slant over it all and I love folk who can do the scratch hip hop thing so well, kinda like Grandmaster Flash.  I found out after that Nu-Mark is also a member of Jurassic 5, so will check them out at the Picnic in September.

Went wandering back towards the Red Bull stage as I wanted to see who was in there.

Derrick Carter – Red Bull Arena 5.30 – 7 pm

Carter was giving it socks and I was sure I recognised him before, I realised he was one of the interviewees in the Channel 4 dance documentary Pump up the Volume, I also recognised him from one of the video streams from Tommorrowland festival last year.  He played some pretty funky house music and he really looked like he was digging the atmosphere in the tent.  No wonder everyone was going crazy Carter is one of the Chicago House masters of the dance scene, he has been around when the term was invented, brilliant stuff.

I took a quick trip over to the Psytrance stage for a coffee and took in a bit of the DJ Digital Species who plays a similar mangled psychedelic noise like Parasense from last year.  I wandered to the next stage, the main stage to see who was starting up there.

The Underachievers – Main Stage 6.30 – 8 pm.

The Underachievers would be what you would describe as a sort of psychedelic Rap, there was three of them with another on the beats, I loved the long drone bass beats that went behind the raps.  Issa Gold, well at least I think that is his name introduced himself to the audience by saying he was beat up by six Gardai on his way to the gig.  The music was interesting nonetheless, psychedelic  rap wouldn’t be the top of my listening priorities but I found it interesting listening to it in a live setting.

At this point I made a mad dash to the welfare tent, I had been coughing all weekend probably a bit of a festival cold, but had ran out of my ventolin inhaler during the week working at the festival so went to the welfare tent to see if I could get the use of a nebuliser or a spare inhaler.  The doctor gave me a blast of a 12 hour ventolin inhaler which done the trick nicely.  I had an interesting chat with him and thankfully there wasn’t too many casualties during the weekend, he told me that his colleagues were stationed at Forbidden Fruit and Slane Castle too.  When I left the welfare tent I felt like a spritely teenager again.  Up to the campsite for a little sit down and then back down to the arena to catch a bit of Nas.

Nas – Main Stage 8 pm – 9 pm.

I loved Nas’s set, I wouldn’t be too informed on the rap thing but I found Nas’s rapping to be crystal clear and articulate, it sort of reminded me of Outkast at the picnic last year. The man just oozed confidence too and not before long I’m going to procure myself a copy of the album he was showcasing or revisiting, Illmatic.  Nas probably had the biggest crowd of the festival and is a new type of genre for Life festival to be booking, usually the festival sticks strictly to dance and reggae music.  So a healthy thing for the festival to incorporate different styles of music which still loosely fall under the dance music umbrella.  And thankfully no umbrellas were needed to watch this performance.

Another trip back to the campsite, I might add the purpose most of the time travelling back and forth to the campsite was to have a can of Guinness as I couldn’t take them into the arena till 12 am and I had a whack of them to tear into for the weekend, so waste not want not as they say ‘hic’.  On my way back to the arena my senses were arrested by a wild sound coming out of the Red Bull tent.

Motor City Drum Ensemble – Red Bull Arena 9 pm – 10 pm.

MCDE had a serious sound going down and the many hands in the air pumping testified that this was what Life festival is about.  Intense funky techno influenced by the Detroit sound, most of the volunteers I was working with were in here going loopy this was one of their main draws or must see acts and I can understand why, infectious funky grooves not only influenced by house and techno itself but of disco, the funk of Funkadelic and Parliament and others of a similar ilk, I would have stayed for more but I nearly forgot about going to the main stage to see SiriusModeselektor, one of my main draws.

SiriusModeselektor – Main Stage 9.30 – 11 pm. 

Woo hoo back to the corklinkity bloinkity music of Modeselektor, I loved their set in 2013 at Life, this time Sirius is added to the group making it SiriusModeselektor and guess what their music is still lovingly corclinkity bloinkity music, they are like nothing else on earth. Bouncy crazy electronica of the highest order and they also have bags of zany humour too. I love some of this nutty electronic stuff coming out of Germany, I was so happy to catch Moderat last year too in Dublin.  I don’t know anything about the new album or if they have an new album out but boy, they are serious, serious party and good time music and the visuals displayed in the backdrop were stunning and vivid.  They are masters of most electronic genres and they even paid a tribute to one of their heroes, Kraftwerk, another splendid nutty electronic band.  I can never get enough of this music, they could have played to eight in the morning and I would still be there frothing to the sounds.

After that I had my fill for another while at the arena so back to the campsite for a rest and a Guinness and I planned to go back in after with the rest of the tins and visit the stages that were still running.

By the time I went back into the arena at least four of the stages had shut down, Red Bull, Main stage, Psytrance stage and the Bulmer’s stage were dormant and quiet, so off I troop to Simma Down area, on the way there was some beautiful ambient electronica pumping out of the District 8 stage which I stopped to look at for a while, I lost my bearings as regards the time so I’m not too sure who I was looking at either Conor Hanson b2b Breen and the end of their set or the starting of Rohad’s set but I loved it all the same.  I wanted something again a bit more mellower than the BPM I was listening too, so up the hill I go and down to the other side to the centre of Simma Down.

Ben Bix and then Manma Saor – Sim Simma 2.  12 am – 2 am 

I mostly finished my arena excursion here to the sounds of Jamaican hip hop, grime, dubstep and jungle, many people still floating about not wanting the party to end.  Met some of the volunteers here going strong still and a nice selection of tunes, a nice way to blow out the weekend and it wasn’t raining, so all good.  When the music winded up we snuck over to the District 8 stage and caught the last five minutes of Rohad’s set, a few moaning about the stages closing at 2 instead of 3 am, but hell tis a lot better than last year when it closed at 12.

Back to the campsite for the night, I just sat in my tent with the soundsystem on and finished what was left of my carry out, on my way to the toilets I met Hannah and another friend in the tent beside, I hadn’t seen her since Saturday morning and I wondered where she had disappeared too.  It turns out she was looking for me on Saturday night but that was the time I went to the land of the nod and had that early night.

Monday 1st June and the fecking rain and wind is back.

So Saturday’s weather came back to revisit me on Monday morning, I snuck up to Ben and Laurie’s tent to share some of my Guinness or more so to get rid of the extra weight from my bag.  In their tent it was dry in either end but in the middle a puddle was forming from the shitty weather twas a sight to behold.  I said my goodbyes for if I didn’t leave then I would be lumbered for another night there.

The last I remember was walking all the way out to the roadside outside Belvedere House and hitching for about 40 minutes in the wind and rain, god, it was such a miserable day. Luckily one of the musicians who had been playing in the Simma Down area picked me up and dropped me into Tyrrellspass with fifteen minutes to spare to catch the connection back to Galway in time to play my session.

Life festival thank you for another great edition, sorry readers I didn’t have a camera this year so I never had any videos or snaps to upload to the blog, my many thanks to Danyl Hartshorn for the use of his photos and the youtubers who’s clips I nicked for the blog. Thanks to Ronan and Lorcan for the wonderful supply of food tokens, Foxy for the festival stories and all the other crew and Fran Hogan for making sure we were all safe and sorted and especially Abdul the crew camp security guard who I had great discussions with about counter-culture and music, till Life 2016 all the best, roll on Body & Soul 2015.

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Electric Picnic 2014 Festival Review

EP 2014


Prelude: 24th – 28th August

I travelled from Galway on the 24th catching the commuter Citylink bus to Dublin, where I got off at Kinnegad, this is where I met Lisa Lawless and Sean Sheil, Lisa was driving straight to Stradbally from there, we were all doing the advanced volunteering and after nine months of positively obsessing about Electric Picnic on, the Electric Picnic Forum and Facebook the time had finally come around again.  Myself and Sean shared a similar taste in electronica so I set about playing him loads of mad sets that I had collected and put on the Ipod and putting my Angel Friendz speakers to the test.


Over the next four days I paired up with like-minded electronic fan, Jan Schneider to work four six hour shifts in and around the Body & Soul crew camp site and car park, playing wild electronic sounds to get us in the mood for festival time and although we wished it, Daniel Avery wouldn’t be playing this years Picnic.  Two days were spent at the top of the road leading to the staff entrance, where we added a touch of pink to the dark green of the security guy, pink being the colour of anyone to do with Festival Republic, we had to prevent staff and people seeking B&S accreditation driving down to the car park exit and direct them to the correct road and the actual entrance.  We also worked a day at the entrance part which was mainly spent listening to Beck’s Mellow Gold, our job to direct campervans and caravans onto the middle road and other traffic up left to the back of the camp site.  The final day was spent working with a Scottish and English girl who were professionals at organising festival car parks at every festival in UK and Ireland over the summer, we had to prevent cars from parking where they felt like, which involved me having to go down the track and point the arriving vehicles to the parking attendants.

After each shift, Sean, Lisa, Dave and myself would meet up at the volunteer place and head from there through the production entrance to get a bite at the Roma or Chinese restaurant and take it over to Ramsbottoms pub where we would have a pint, the bar full of Festival Republic, Body&Soul and Trenchtown workers and various other festival areas.

Special mention to Dan the supervisor hailing from deepest Macroom in Cork and my neighbours, a crazy Cork bunch, Cian and the lads and lassies who seemed to have an unbelievable energy, partying hard till 7 am and managing to turn up for the shifts at 2 pm. Also a special mention to Catherine Kehoe, Susanne and everyone at the volunteer office, Larry, Ross, Dave and campervan John and his daughters and so many more.

Lisa Lawless and Myself on the Main Stage, Pre-Festival.

Lisa Lawless and Myself on the Main Stage, Pre-Festival.

Stacey Shine and Sean Shiel, fellow volunteers.

Stacey Shine and Sean Shiel, fellow volunteers.

Friday 29th August

GIRO at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Friday.

GIRO at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Friday.

Friday I was up by 10 am as I wanted to sell a ticket and figured that you have to get out there early enough, so onward to the main arena entrance and car park to catch arriving festival goers.  Surprisingly everyone who had arrived so far already had a ticket, compared to last year where there was literally hundreds in the streets of Stradbally begging for a ticket, this year no one seemed to be looking and I attracted someone from Festival Republic security who told me to move on out of the arena and car park area.  So back through the festival site and staff entrance to lie down for half an hour as that was a lot of walking involved there.  I rested up at John’s campervan area, where he made us free coffee and tea and where we can charge our phones and ipods, John and one of his daughters was trying to find a buyer for the ticket for me.  I figured the best bet was to go out evening time when the workers would be free from the cities and would arrive to the festival. Some people standing outside Supervalu in Stradbally with a sign for tickets for sale were moved on by the Gardai, so my plan of action was to go to one of the pubs for a pint and possibly sell the ticket there.


GIRO: Galway International Retro Orchestra – Earthship Stage, Body & Soul Village 4 – 4.30 pm

It just happens that about 3.30 pm I met Geoff Ward and Tom Cody wandering about the crew camp bundled with instruments, luggage and camping equipment trying to find the Body & Soul area so that they could set up for the gig. Having arrived an hour and a half earlier, but any time they asked security where to go they were given wrong directions, most security should have the EP staff handbook, but it seems these guys didn’t.  So I gave a hand with the luggage and brought them up through the hole in the wall entrance, Geoff just making it in time for Giro’s gig.

Giro launched their first CD at the end of April this year which they had been touring a few gigs around Galway, then Anders Trabjerg and his wife Mayo Yanachi had their first child, daughter Hanna in 16th June so the gigs stopped.  This Electric Picnic appearance is their first gig since the birth.  Giro play a combination of vaudeville style jigs, reels and polkas influenced by recordings of the Flanagan Brothers, Klezmer music and Romanian gypsy music, all of the music similarly connected through emigration to the US and New York in particular in the 1930s and the melting pot of music that came from this.  Their set was basically the first audience in the Body & Soul area for 2014, poor Leo and Anto preceding Giro had to play to an empty stage as the opening of the arena was delayed, the audience just filtering in when Giro started up.

We were treated to some rousing Romanian music and Klezmer music which started pulling in a small crowd, although there was the onslaught of heavy drizzle, Sean, Lisa and Dave showed up too, some spritely reels followed next where folk started leaping around to the music.  So more Romanian or Hungarian music followed with Mayo doing some sweet stuff on the fiddle, Anders functioning as the rhythm on the large accordion, Canadian Kyle Borley (flute and fife) and New Zealand man Geoff Ward (saxophone, clarinet and banjolin) joining in intermittently in the arrangements.  Borley is also a fine singer of the old Flanagan Brothers style type of songs and gave us a fine rendition of Goodbye Muirsheen Durkin bridged neatly into two polkas.  Giro went down exceedingly well and I reckon they have made a few new converts from this gig, they will be playing a few gigs around Galway over the coming weeks.

GIRO Earthship Stage, Body & Soul  Friday.

GIRO Earthship Stage, Body & Soul Friday.


I decided to go into Stradbally in the evening for a pint and to see if I could flog the ticket in the pubs there, at risk of missing the Blondie set although I did see a bit of them at the RockNess festival in Scotland in 2010.  I settled for the Ramsbottom pub as that seemed the busiest of the bars plus it was nice to drink a pint of Guinness in a glass than watered down Heneiken in a plastic glass in the arena, I got talking to some of the people behind Trenchtown in there.  There was a few lads hanging about outside the pub and I overheard conversation about not wanting to use, I asked if they wanted to buy a ticket, to which one fellow from Portlaoise ended up buying it.  I was now free to enjoy the festival with a small bit of income, plus I made this guy happy as he more or less got it for the festival price.I bought a lanyard and programme when I got back into the arena and seeked out Charcoal Grill for my dinner.

Foals – Main Stage 9 – 10.15 pm

I caught a bit of the Foals on the main stage who were playing a fine energetic set and a fine amount of audience gathered too, there was plenty of tracks from of their new album Holy Fire played and they had a good solid rocky sound, a very nice addition to the Friday night entertainment.  I don’t know much about the Foals, but I suppose they are a discovery for me and I would be most likely to watch them again if given the chance, but a very tight indie rock sound and strong vocals.

It has to be said this year the Friday night was scant and similar to last year with not much choices in the main arena, the Little Big Tent, Cosby Tent and Rankin Woods tent were closed for the night with only the Electric Arena open for two hours with James Murphy (Ex-LCD Sound System) performing and the main stage which was now left with the choice of the Pet Shop Boys.  The Pet Shop Boys always had a superb production on their singles but I just found them to be incredibly dull.  I was happy enough to just listen to a bit of the performance from the volunteer tent to the side of the main stage, they basically sounded like their CDs really, ah well, horses for courses and all that.  If I was working this weekend as a volunteer I would have chosen Friday as my night shift.

At some point during the night I met Kevin Keehan in the main arena and we went for a wander into the Body & Soul Village, there was a very large crowd gathered around the amphitheatre main stage so I figure this would be tUnE-yArDs, there was no point in trying to squeeze in as it was absolutely rammed so we just wandered about the place eventually deciding to go to the Rave in the Woods about 2 am.

Sunil Sharpe – Red Bull Arena – Rave in the Woods  2 – 4 am.

Sunil had a bit of job in his hands, half the festival must have showed up here seeing that more than half the main arena was shut, but he managed with superb aplomb, playing nice dark brain dance techno, twisty electronic sounds, a resounding thud and an earth quaking bass.  The Dublin based DJ had the entire crowd in a hypnotic trance with the music getting wilder and harder.  He dropped Polygon Window the title track by Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin just over half the way into his set which added to that brain dance sound, a nice way to blow out the first night.  The long clip I took sounds like he sampled Forward Strategy Group’s Phase Linear for the electronic drone in the track, the second clip comes in courtesy from Youtube user Kanal von EarwiggleDublin.

Sunil Sharpe - Rave in the Woods, Friday.

Sunil Sharpe – Rave in the Woods, Friday.

Sunil Sharpe - Rave in the Woods, Friday.

Sunil Sharpe – Rave in the Woods, Friday.


The trek back to the crew camp from Rave in the woods seemed like an eternity, already by Wednesday last week I was getting blisters on the balls of my feet from all the walking around Stradbally town, to and from work and during the work, so they were very tender indeed by the time the first rave in the woods party ended for Friday night.  Went up to Kevin’s van where he had a mattress set up in the back for a few cans before hitting the hay myself.


Saturday 30th August

Woke up about 10 am to the blinding heat, I sit up quickly unzip the tent and lie down again when the cooler breeze enters, everyone around is the same, woke up by the smothering heat.  Five hours kip, that’s not bad and the most typical of festival sleep patterns you will get, taking in the late night shenanigans.  Took a nice shower and shave to freshen up for the day.  A bunch of us decided to walk into Stradbally for a bite to eat and a coffee, possibly taking in a trip to the Supervalu too.  We settle for a scrambled egg and toast and a coffee at the Sradbally Fayre cafe, its nice the odd time to come out of camping land into the concrete and watch the buzz around the small town.  At 8.50 Euros though I call that a rip off for scrambled egg and toast with coffee, so I won’t be back to that cafe in a hurry.

After stocking up with more Guinness and pouches of tobacco and cigarette papers from Super Valu, I head back to the crew camp, where Kevin phones me and we arrange to meet up in the main arena.  Its handy when you get to the cross roads leading to the arena, with the crew wristband you can just walk up to the metal gate left of the first Hendrix camp site entrance, flash your wristband and you are inside the arena without the searching or delays the festival punter has to go through.  Met with Kevin and went for a wander around the arena, he had to go off and do something so I wandered up to the volunteer area and had a chat with a few volunteers there whilst Trinity Orchestra played out the Gorillaz album, some of it nice and some of it quite jarring.  I took a wee trip into the Green Crafts Village to have a look, among all the crafts, pottery and recycling was this bodhran area also called Newgrange Willow Design, where there was bodhrans with wicker rims, the man also gave bodhran lessons for ten euro an hour, anyway I sauntered up and had a jam with him to his banjo CD.  I wandered down to the main stage area after and found Lisa sauntering about the front waiting for Dave and others to show, they were getting set up for the Stranglers set due to start.

I decided to go and take a quick look at the Mindfield area before the gig,  there was all sorts of spoken word stages, interview stages, Theatre of Food with its chefs, food stalls and an expensive eating house set up for charity with award winning chefs and a pricey meal for 120 Euro, I’ll stick to the Charcoal Grill for the moment.  There was also the Science Gallery stage that had a few eye openers in it, in fact there is just too much to fit into three days really.

The Stranglers – Main Stage  2 – 3 pm.

For a band with only two original members left they brought back a lot of nostalgic memories for me, I was a bit of a closet Stranglers fan back in the early 1980s.  Classics were reeled out such as Get a Grip on yourself, Nice and Sleazy (minus the nude models this time), Duchess, Peaches, No More Heroes and a gorgeous version of Golden Brown which brought a tear to my eye.  They pulled a decent enough crowd for the time of the day too and still had a decent enough sound and verve regardless that the original vocalist Hugh Cornwell was no longer with them since 1990, Dave Greenfield and Jean-Jacques Burnel doing a decent enough job with the vocals.

Went back to the crew camp site for a while to chill, this was the first time that I never moved into the Hendrix camp site on the Thursday and it was so much more peaceful for it, there is a awful lot of drinking and boisterousness at the Hendrix, even more so now with the bar times being extended to 12 am on Friday and Sunday and 1 am on Saturday and can you blame anyone for drinking their silly heads of themselves at 6 Euros a pop for a pint in the arena.

Met with Kevin again and went for a wander with him into Stradbally, he wanted to get a bite and to stock up, so we headed for the corner chipper near the Stradbally Fayre cafe, I bought some chips myself which were delicious with a garlic dip.  I noticed loads of young fellows hanging about the town about fourteen or fifteen years old, skanger looking types looking for ways to bunk into EP, they stopped a crustie fellow who actually advised them how to break in, well at least they wouldn’t be able to get through the security at the crew camp.  What is the point anyway, you break into a festival and then you get lumbered at a campsite how do you get by wristband check to the main arena, its obvious they are not there for the music and are there to cause trouble or rob tents.  Of course you meet the odd few who have bunked in but are genuine music fans too, you can still enjoy free music around the camping areas like Salty Dog stage, Rave in the Woods and Trenchtown if you can avoid the occasional ‘on the spot’ checks for wristbands that crop up now and again.

Chilled for a while with Lisa, Dave and some others at crew camp for a while, supping Guinness and having the odd smoke.  There was not really anything on the stages at the moment to grab my interest, but that usually is always the case at large festivals like EP during the afternoon and early evening, there was a number of interesting acts playing, Sean was off to see Hozier, but I was reserving my energy at least till about 8ish where I wanted to catch a bit of Camille O’Sullivans set at the Jerry Fish tent, otherwise I would just exacerbate my blisters and have an even sorer back if I tried to watch everything.

The Frank and Walters – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow   7.15 – 8 pm

Cork band The Frank and Walters were giving it socks at the Jerry Fish tent with a nice fan base packed into the tent, the group were all donned in orange shirts reminding me of Sweden’s The Hives, they played melodious rocky pop songs that reminded of the energy of the Undertones and the early Jam.  The group’s vocalist and bassist Paul Linehan regaled the audience in his thick Cork brogue with many funny stories and innuendos of his experiences on tour with the group and it seems they cracked it today with a fairly rammed tent reeling out classics such as After All and  Plenty Times amongst others.


Off for a wander now with Kevin to the Body&Soul Village, he always has a fondness for places like My House (at Body&Soul Festival) and the Radio Shack for continuous and timely funky hits which I don’t mind myself at all.  I notice sometimes especially at festivals that some stages are a little too close to each other, to some people this is their idea of hell, but for me in some ways that adds to the mad chaos to hear two completely different amplified sounds within the one ear shot.  The case in hand here being a traditional music concert in the Bandstand (Pagoda stage from B&S festival) clashing with cool cheesy disco funk of the Radio Shack.

Louis Scully Discotekken – Radio Shack, Body&Soul    7 – 9 pm.

I’ve no idea what music was playing in here but there was about eight or nine individuals giving it socks to the groove, I imagine it was probably stuff like The Tramp’s Disco Inferno, The Real Thing’s Can you feel the force and the like, timeless classic disco era funk.  No doubt there was some Chic fans in there getting themselves into the mood.

Perfect Friction – Bandstand, Body&Soul   8 – 8.40 pm

Couldn’t help overhearing them from the Radio Shack so wandered over to catch a bit of their traditional magic and man, they had a fine crowd jumping about in front of the stage, some fine looking girls playing concertina, fiddles and accordions and two fellows, one with a timely bodhran and the other pumping the sound with the guitar.  Reels and more reels and jigs with a bit of rock n roll and Bothy Band style thrown in for good measure.

Craic outside the Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.

Craic outside the Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.

Perfect Friction - Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.

Perfect Friction – Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.

The Radio Shack - Body & Soul Saturday.

The Radio Shack – Body & Soul Saturday.

Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow   9 – 9.45 pm

My sister Marguerite and her husband Brendan are big fans of Camille O’Sullivan and have her CDs The Changeling, Live at the Olympia and the DVD too, so I was well accustomed to her sound and this was the first time I would see her in the flesh.  Wikipedia describes her as alternative rock / baroque pop, I would also put a bit of burlesque in there too, perhaps the best description of her is likening her to a female version of Nick Cave.  She is also an actress, artist/painter, lecturer and part of her act is very theatrical in style too.  What better a venue to find her in than Jerry Fish’s quirky tent venue.

She kicked off with the marvellous Revelator that opens the album The Changeling, a brooding masterpiece built up from keyboards and guitar histrionics of the musicians on stage she belts out the lyrics with such intensity that she is spellbinding, the only snag being my camera deciding to cut off before the last minute of the song and too late for me to realise this.  Camille comes across at times as a stand up comedian or maybe she just has the natural lilt of Irish laughter, but she charmed us no end.  She does a very intense  acappella  piece, I don’t know if this is one of her own compositions or if it is a Nick Cave style track but it got an amazing reaction from the audience including myself.  At one point she looses her balance on stage and falls over a large amplifier, I don’t know if this was staged or if it was a genuine accident, but like a pro she just carried on as if it never happened.  I was very impressed with Camille’s performance. something completely different that just grabs you, yep, that’s what the Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow is all about.

Camille O'Sullivan - Jerry Fish's Electric Sideshow Saturday.

Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow Saturday.

Camille O'Sullivan - Jerry Fish's Electric Side Show  Saturday.

Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Side Show Saturday.

It was off after that to find a coffee stall rather than to drink another Guinness and a bite to eat, Kevin wanted to catch the last part of the London Grammar performance at the Electric Arena, unfortunately as we were trying to work out where the Electric Arena was coming around the main stage area, the Paolo Nutini audience had just spilled out of the area and separated the two of us, I hopelessly lost Kevin in the throng with no way to figure where the hell he was.  So I made my way up to the Electric Arena and used O’Briens Ice Cream van as a marker should Kevin phone to find out where I was.

London Grammar – Electric Arena   9.30 – 10.30 pm

I caught the last two songs of the act, not actually in the tent but at the ice cream van outside the venue, I have no idea of London Grammar’s music but it was soft rockish sound with some of the nicest vocals heard over the weekend along with Camille’s, of course. Nope still no sign of Kevin, it turns out there is another O’Briens ice cream van at the other side of the EA so Kevin was standing at the wrong van it seems.  Not that we would’ve got into the EA anyway the tent was rimmed about three or four columns deep with people on the outside for this up and coming group.  A minor irritation developed, Kevin kept phoning me to find out where I was no matter how much I tried to explain that I couldn’t hear him due to amplification and roars everywhere, but he kept phoning and phoning until I just ignored it or else laughed my silly head off as I didn’t know what he was saying nor him me. He was raging that he missed London Grammar because he couldn’t find the EA, its a simple rule, you go left of the main stage by the first set of stalls and the Bacardi bar until you hit the first yellow and blue stripe tent, at least that’s what I think it was.

That was the catch phrase though for the festival, everyone screaming into their phones, ‘Wha, what?  I canna hear what your saying, its cracking up.  WHAT! I canna bloody hear you, text me for god’s sake.’

Portishead – Main Stage  10.35 – 11.50 pm

It was nice to be able to watch a Bristol trip-hop act without gales and rain for a change, the last time being the Massive Attack slot in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin after the comfort of Fever Ray in the EA.  Kicking off with the uptempo Silence from the album Third Portishead rocked us up with a visual and perfect sound feast, although for the first few numbers Beth Gibbons vocal level was a little low and it was hard to make her out, but this was straightened up by the bands third number.  Watching Portishead live, they come across much heavier than in their albums, guitars soaring with amazing power.  We were treated to many of the luscious tracks from the groups debut album Dummy including Glorybox, Mysterons and Sour Times.  Perhaps the biggest roar came during Machine Gun when the propaganda shown on the backdrop screen showed the Palestine conflict, the Syrian crisis and the Irish debt crisis with images of AIB and the Bank of Ireland.  Very similar it appears to the messages shown in the backdrop for Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy that I seen on a Youtube clip from their performance at Longitude festival this year.

The visuals especially on the likes of Mysterons was absolutely stunning to go with that wall of sound only Portishead can create and Beth Gibbon’s vocals are simply divine, it was a pleasure to witness them at the Picnic and another landmark group crossed of my list, although I wouldn’t hesitate to go and see them again.

Portishead - Main stage, Saturday.

Portishead – Main stage, Saturday.

It was time for a brief sit down and a can of Guinness or two at the Body&Soul area with Kevin until we made our way back to the main stage for a bit of Chic, I wasn’t too keen in catching the start anyway as I find the first two hits by Chic super cheesy and I know that they start with these two numbers, Dance, dance, dance being one of them.  It was more the stuff from the second album I liked such as Good Times, Forbidden Lover, We’re Lost in Music and Le Freak.

Chic – Main Stage   12.30 – 1.45 am.

Chic were just ploughing into We’re Lost in Music when myself and Kevin arrived at the main stage and man! It was packed out, never had disco funk been so popular, everyone giving socks with the moves.  I used to dismiss disco as a sort of disposable pop music when I was into my heavy metal stuff, but funk guitarists like Nile Rodgers can rock with the best of them when required, had Rodgers been ten years older he would have been playing with the likes of Parliament and Funkadelic or even Hot Chocolate.  Chic has a very tight ship in sound with a smashing tight brass section, a cool and calculating bass and a delightful lead front of amazing soul singers in Kimberly Davis and Folami Ankoanda-Thompson who have the looks and stage clothes to match, Davis and Thompson look in particular as if they were whisked from a world renowned gospel choir, jeezo these girls sure can sing their soul.

Now lots of people have been complaining about Rodgers bigging himself up as having played with the big stars and producing their records, but after reading his biography Le Freak I have the greatest respect for the man and it was also a delight he announced that his cancer has cleared up.

On with the music, the group went through various classics, a Diana Ross melody section, David Bowie’s Lets Dance, Sister Sledge’s We are family and Madonna ‘s Like a Virgin which I don’t particularly like but let the man have his glory.  For me it was more the hits that made Chic themselves, We’re Lost in MusicMy Forbidden Lover, Good Times with obligatory nod to the Sugarhill Gang who originally nicked the melody for their hit Rappers Delight and the bona fide classic Le Freak which seriously got the whole arena dancing.  A smashing gig and a great way to round up the Saturday nights entertainment on the main stage, the only other similar type Saturday night closer being George Clinton’s Pfunk at Electric Picnic 2008.

Chic - Main Stage, Saturday.

Chic – Main Stage, Saturday.

We were wondering where to go next, I realised I hadn’t been to the Little Big Tent since Richie Hawtin’s show on Friday Electric Picnic 2012 and looked at the lanyard to discover that Northern Irish DJs Bicep were playing at the LBT till 3 am so we headed up to catch the last hour there.

Bicep – Little Big Tent  1.30 – 3 am.

Hailing from Belfast, Bicep create a nice sound palate of house music, in the sweet confines of the LBT there is a nice crowd bopping away to the sound but there is still room to breathe unlike the packed Rave in the Woods at times.  There is a nice visual backdrop that compliments the sounds and Bicep seem to have a grasp of rich electronic sounds that they expertly mix to the beats, having missed them at Life festival over the last year or two I was glad to be able to catch up with them at last, I think Kevin enjoyed this too. Funky electronica for the ravers it is and gets a thumbs up from me.

Bicep - Little Big Tent, Saturday.

Bicep – Little Big Tent, Saturday.

We decided to go for Rave in the woods for the final hour and catch the last bit of Joy Orbison’s set, so from scintillating house to more scintillating house, dubstep and garage music it was.

Joy Orbison -Rave in the Woods  2 – 4 am.

This was my second time catching Joy Orbison this year, the first time being at Life festival where he played under the moniker Joy O and apparently a different type of music as well although I enjoyed both his sets.

There was a massive crowd gathered at the rave in the woods again, this time with Orbison at the helm, providing tasteful beats, cool twisted electronica and beautiful female vocal samples that complimented the sound.  Every time I film this stage my camera trails off to the lasers and as always I end up filming the galaxy of colour spots on the trees, I suppose it can’t be helped and I reckon every person with a camera does the same.  The next time at EP I will make sure I get to the very front of the stage and film them from there.  There is not much more I can say about the music apart from that its was extremely enjoyable and energising, you can only say so much about dance music, a bleep here and bleep there, a twisted snare here and a bass to flatten your house with.  Lets just say tonight, Orbison was playing a pumping soulful groove that you did not want to stop and that you could listen to until sunrise, alas it stopped at 4 am of course, so now the trip back to crew camp, feck!.

Joy Orbison - Rave in the Woods, Saturday.

Joy Orbison – Rave in the Woods, Saturday.

Myself and Kevin ended up getting lost on the way back, we ended up a road where security were helping a big truck to reverse, we asked security if that was the road to the Hendrix camp site which it wasn’t.  We eventually found the stalls and the Hendrix camp site about an hour later and when we hit the cross roads, we took a wrong turn and ended up at some farm house, why the hell does this keep happening to us, my blistering feet are laughing at me, it was probably down to us being too loaded or whatever.  You’d think there would be some kind of Stargate wormhole by now to save all that bloody walking.

Anyway the final hour was spent in the company of Ross, Larry and Kevin drinking Morgans and Guinness and having an oul smoke till about 6 am, where we met a shivering and a just awoke Sean who was heading to one of the portaloos.  It was then I realised how bloody cold it was and decided to hit the hay myself to keep warm.

Sunday 31st August.

Got up about 11ish today and met Sean, Lisa and Dave and decided to go for a breakfast in Stradbally, I can’t remember the pub we went to but it was just down from Ramsbottoms.  They were cashing in on festival prices so the breakfast with a coffee worked out a 10 Euro which is just a tad expensive.  Anyway we happily gulped down the breakfast and coffee and I asked someone where I was supposed to pay, but everyone turned around to me saying they already paid beforehand, so it was suggested by my friends that I leave quickly and quietly which I did, so got my breakfast free woo hoo.

Got back to crew camp with the others and met Kevin there, he wanted to go and see the Wailers, so we set off to the main arena through the steel gate armed with cans of beer.  Last year we missed Black Uhuru because we were having a chilled time with Patrick Long, his brother Kevin and loads of buddies, the same happens everyone at some point I’d say the weekend over at the Picnic.  Your chilling after a lot of walking and you completely miss someone you wanted to see.

The Wailers – Main Stage   2.30 – 3.30 pm.

There was a nice crowd gathered for the Wailers and the sun was out in all its glory, the perfect recipe for reggae music.  Where we settled about five or six rows back, who should we land beside but my good friend Aminah Dastan and her boyfriend, so a nice reunion of buddies.  The Wailers played a greatest hit catalogue of Bob Marley classics which got a steady bouncy skank going, Get up Stand Up, Could you be Loved, Is this Love, One Love and so on and so on, just a fun filled hour of classic Marley hits in the blazing sun you couldn’t ask for more in that traditional Sunday EP slot.

The Wailers - Main Stage Sunday.

The Wailers – Main Stage Sunday.

Aminah Dastan & her boyfriend at the main stage for the Wailers.

Aminah Dastan & her boyfriend at the main stage for the Wailers.

Aminah and her fellah had to go back to work at their coffee stall in Soul Kids area, so myself and Kevin rushed over to catch the last fifteen minutes of Jenny Lewis in the Rankin Woods tent.

Jenny Lewis – Rankin Woods Stage    3 – 3.45 pm.

Jenny Lewis is the lead singer for Rilo Kiley an alternative rock group from the US, she has three solo albums under her belt, the style of music she gave off today was an alternative country rock n roll vibe, a kinda of Americana music, this was my first time seeing her as I never seen Rilo Kiley at the 2007 Picnic either.  Her music judging by the clip I took had a rootsy Southern bluesy vibe about it but with an indie edge, she also has a great rock n roll voice that is very powerful and she is a very cute sexy looking red head, I would definitely cross the road to see her again.

This was around the traditional time for me to pop down to the merchandise stall and buy a Picnic tee shirt, I settled for a nice blueish green one with what looks like the Eye of Isis design kind of like the 2012 a bit except nicer again.  At some point during yesterday I spotted Kevin’s favourite diner food, the chicken wing stall, now for the love of me I was trying to remember where I did see it, we eventually found it in the second row of stalls but I think he was disappointed when they had actually run out of chicken wings, it sort of defeats the purpose of the name of their stall really.

Kevin went off for a wander and we decided to meet at the B&S entrance later, at one point I sat down not far from the Bacardi bar to listen to the sounds emitting from there, Decent Perks was playing a set of funky house there over the cacophony of Sinead O’Connor’s warblings from the main stage, another case of two sound stages clashing, a weird combination, funky house and the loathsome vocals of O’Connor.  I had to get out of there fast, so met Kevin at the B&S entrance sooner than expected.

We basically sauntered about Body&Soul looking at stuff, some of the strange shelters or art near some of the stages, well the big green umbrella type shelter next to the Upstage tent where we had an old smoke.  Kevin looked at my programme and discovered that Mikey Joyride Soro was going to be playing a one and a half hour reggae set at the Upstage at 5 pm.  Mikey is one of the supervisors at Life, Body & Soul and no doubt, Electric Picnic too who looked after the site build workers and volunteers in all these festivals, he is known for his trademark green Jeep with a constant reggae soundtrack blasting out of it at all times.

Mikey Joyride Soro – Upstage, Body&Soul    5 – 6.30 pm.

Mikey threw a joyful reggae party and a nice reggae history lesson in music to keep our feet moving, the tent was empty at the starting but quickly filled up when the bass vibe rebounded out of the openings in the tent and seduced passer bys into the tent to loose it with the music.  There was an incredible happiness from the music that Mikey played which is again what the Picnic is all about, its not just about headliners and massive stages, its a series of about 20 or maybe 25 different stages, some quite close to each other in the same areas.

The music covered all sorts of genres that have sprung from reggae too, drum n bass, dubstep, dancehall, dub, ska, uptown, ragga, jungle and of course, good old reggae itself. Classics such as Dawn Penn’s No, no, no, Bob Marley classics, Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock and the like, just a pleasant place to spend an hour or so when there was no plans on the agenda to rush off to the main stage or whatever.

When looking at the EP festival programme afterwards I realised one of my favourite Irish electronica artists played right after Mikey, Cork man, Reid but I only found this out hours later so I was a wee bit sickened, it happens though all the time at festivals.

I decided I wanted to get something to eat before going on the liquid diet of Captain Morgan cola cans and cans of Guinness so off to a coffee stall and then a food one.  I had a good look around until I settled for a German style sandwich stall called Hans Frankenfurter – Authentic German Cooking that sold bratwurst and pulled pork rolls.  I settled for a pulled pork roll for the affordable price of 6 Euro and it was absolutely delicious and filled me well, one of the nicest discoveries at the Picnic.

Hans Frankenfurter, German food stall at Electric picnic.

Hans Frankenfurter, German food stall at Electric picnic.

We briefly took a trip to the Hendrix camp site where Kevin wanted to get some cans from his tent, when we arrived I got a chance to meet Cork Dave who was in suitable spirits with a few beers in him, blasting his beat box and entertaining his neighbours who were suitably inebriated too.  They spotted my bodhran so they begged me to do a bodhran solo, which I obliged them in the end and they gave me a cheer, this was the only time I managed to catch up with Dave, so I took a photo to catch that moment.


Seeing that we were in a bit of a reggae buzz today we decided to head down to Trenchtown for a while, it was odd where Kevin chose to sit, right in the middle of another sound stage clash, this time the Revelation Sound System were blasting dancehall dub in one corner while there was a live reggae rock band Synergy playing in a stage at another corner, you know something, festivals are the maddest of things, why do we subject ourselves to such volume from various sources, we are mad as hatters we are.

Synergy – Inna Live yard, Trenchtown   7.30 – 8.30 pm.

Went over to check out Synergy who hail from Youghal, County Cork and who play many different styles of reggae, folk, ska, trad, African and rock, they have been described as mix of reggae and sunshine music, Latin music and Irish music.  When I was checking them out they were playing a bluesy heavy rock with a Jamaican drumming undercurrent, quite an interesting mix and why not, I ask, tis the Picnic after all, a melting pot of styles and hybrids.  Will be checking them out if I get a chance soon again.

At about quarter past eight we figured that was the time to get a good spot in around the front of the main stage for Beck, so we hurried over to settle before the start of the gig.

Beck – Main Stage    8.30  – 9.45 pm.

Beck blasted off with Devil’s Haircut, what a way to go, the riff just ate through my brain, probably one of the best concert intros ever and the Electric Picnic audience went ballistic, Beck and his band tight as hell with beautiful psychedelic graphics playing out in the massive back screen backdrop.  Beck looks as young as ever leaping about the stage like a kid and his voice in super form.  Next its straight in the opening of Mellow Gold and Loser, this is just so, so good, everything replicated to a super live intensity and everyone in the audience in awe of such a band rocking out the main stage.  He dropped other classics throughout the set such as E-Pro and Black Tambourine from his 2005 album Guero.  His set mellowed in the middle with some tracks from his new album Morning Phase, like Blue Moon.  I knew he had come to the end of the set by the opening keyboard motif for Where it’s at, that’s the number he has been closing with on his recent shows and where he introduces his band.  It was a damn fine pleasure to get to see Beck live for the first time and I hope its not my last time.

Beck - Main Stage, Sunday.

Beck – Main Stage, Sunday.

I think I went for a coffee after this as the cans was running out and I had to use them sparingly, stupidly I left two cans at crew camp instead of taking them all with me.  Sean was in touch by text, we arranged to meet at the left of the mixing desk for Outkast, for the whole festival I had not actually went to a gig with Sean as yet.  So myself and Kevin dandered about Body & Soul for a bit.  Both of us decided to buy a pint from Heneiken Atlas, the only pint I’ve bought for the whole weekend, I went into the bar and asked for a pint and she said, ‘sold out’ but she was only joking, I liked that.

I could have never anticipated the crowd that was going to gather for Outkast, it must have been the biggest crowd gathered for a EP main stage act ever, the crowd extending to the very back and right up to the sides of the stalls such as Oxegen.

Outkast – Main Stage 10.15 pm – 12 am.

To tell you the truth I knew nothing about Outkast, in fact I have always thought that rap never came across well live whenever I saw it on stage, but man, Outkast cracked it, they were totally an entertaining act.  Both Andre 3000 and Big Boi came across a fairly articulate when rapping, meaning I could understand what they were saying, which is not usually the case with rap gigs for me and my god, they could rap incredibly fast and you could still understand.  I was vaguely aware of the singles Ms Jackson and Hey Ya because of airplay in the radio.  Some of the audience at this gig though bugged the hell out of me, groups of fellahs with their girlfriends on their shoulders, their girlfriends having conversations with each other blocking a fair section of the view for a lot of people in the back.  Why were the people at the back so meek, I would be punching them down, ‘Get out of the bloody way’ I would be roaring.  It was also a constant pushing and shoving to get to the front which was annoying enough.  Plans to meet Sean at the mixing fell apart as soon as we seen the main stage crowd.  Myself and Kevin had enough at one point and withdrew from the audience to find some space to breathe.

I can’t remember who we met first but we bumped into Kevin Long who then took us into the Hendrix where we met his brother Patrick too and a friend of his, we also met Sean I think.  We decided to go into the Body&Soul for a sit down just out of the periphery of the B&S main stage area.  I attempted to take some photos in the dark of the lads, I even attempted a selfie.

Myself & Kevin at Body&Soul, Sunday.

Myself & Kevin at Body&Soul, Sunday.


We then moved up near the Body&Soul fire for a while which is a lovely spot to hang around, I took a video clip which didn’t really pick out my friends in the dark, but takes in the fire and some of the lit up trees and Body&Soul decorations around.

Boddika – Rave in the Woods   2  – 4 am.

We made the collective decision to go for the last hour to the Rave in the woods and catch the last act for the festival, Boddika, I think it was on the way there that we bumped into Sean Sheil and a friend on the way there too.  I had to coax Kevin as he wasn’t too sure about the further walk plus he had to work at the breakdown of the B&S part of the festival on Monday.

Boddika was playing some nice spacey techno that had a lot of folk wired to the sound, didn’t feel like going up to the front as I hadn’t really the energy left, but appreciated the fine electronica that was being played, a nice way to close proceedings for the Picnic and quite different again from the Boiler Room set, hope he comes back for another visit, maybe Life or Body&Soul festival next year.

It was great to meet up with all the lads and we found a nice spot at the back of rave in the woods to relax and sit while soaking up the sounds.  Oddly enough Boddika dropped a familiar track near the end of his set, I realised it was a track Ben Klock played last year on the Friday night at Rave in the Woods, it sent a chill down my spine and at the same time saddened me a wee bit as this one was coming to an end.

We decided to head off just before the very end of Boddika’s set so as to beat the onrushing crowd coming out of the area, it also felt a bit like the festival was still on when we headed off.  Myself and Kevin followed Patrick and his brother this time so we wouldn’t get lost like yesterday and we found the Hendrix no problem and we said our goodbyes to Kevin and Patrick Long vowing to meet up sometime in either Galway or Limerick where they were from.  By the time I got to crew camp both myself and Kevin were world weary and decided to hit the hay.  Sean wisely stayed up having a blether with Larry and Ross around the tents, god it was 5.30 in the morning and i had to get up in four hours.

Monday 1st September.

Hungover and tired I was awoke by Lisa, I slowly but surely packed up my stuff and tent and hopped into her car with Sean, Sean sleeping for most of the journey to Mullingar and finally for myself to Kinnegad to get the Galway bus, all to the soundtrack of AC/DC in Lisa’s car, we said our goodbyes and that was it really.

In hindsight having looked at the RTE footage of the festival, it seems like they were at one festival and us at another, they seem to forget why ‘Electric’ is in the title of the festival, because its a festival for all sorts, but the basis or originally the basis was an electronic undercurrent of bands and DJs comprising the festival as well as everything else.  I didn’t think Eoghan McDermott was a great choice to present the Picnic but Jenny Greene was was OK as she is a DJ after all, but for a guy who presents The Voice it was a rubbish choice, perhaps it was because of his Gaelic knowledge as a requirement by the broadcaster to introduce the Irish music bit from Other Voices, although nice job from Cormac Begley and the lads and lassies flaking out the reels.  I hope for next year such sludge as festival fashions, stupid questions like what type of cheese do you like and such rubbish will be omitted from the programme.  Get someone like Leagues O’Toole, Dave Fanning, Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally from Under Ether or even John Kelly, someone who has a modicum about the music and the music fans at EP.  Some of the footage was great such as the Foals, Stranglers and Chic but there was not near enough and far too much waffling really.

Anyway, till next year love and peace and goodbye Electric Picnic and Body & Soul.  Roll on the end of May for Life, Body &^ Soul and EP 2015.


























Posted in Concert Review, Culture, Electronic Music, Music and Arts Festival | 3 Comments

Body & Soul Festival 2014 Review June 20th – 22nd


First tent in the Crew Camp.

First tent in the Crew Camp.

My journey began from Galway on Saturday 15th June, Brian and Reka kindly came to my rescue and drove me from the city to Ballinlough Castle, Gate E where I only had to walk two meadows till I found the crew camp, I was the first volunteer to arrive on site, the only other activity going on in the woods was a lighting/sound/trapeze group who were working on their installation near the crew camp.  I started my first shift on Sunday 11 am, my job to take note of each vehicle that entered Gate C, the production entrance, I would get their name, phone number and registration, I also filled out stickers with the same info which they applied to their windscreen or their dashboard.  The purpose of the info was so that Megan Best, one of the production managers could contact them in case their vehicle was blocking an important route.

I signed in the first security, traders and other festival workers that Sunday plus I was given my first two way radio to use, some more of volunteer stewards also arrived on Sunday evening, Jo McGrath and a bunch of her friends from Galway set up at the crew camp, Jo was originally going to give me a lift on Sunday evening but then I discovered I had to be onsite for Sunday morning.

Crew Camp filling up.

Crew Camp filling up.

Jo McGrath and her friends from Galway who arrived on Sunday.

Jo McGrath and her friends from Galway who arrived on Sunday.

Through Monday and Tuesday I worked with two volunteers called Andy and Kevin, our main job was communicating by two way radio at different parts of a very narrow road, Road 2 the Walled Garden route.  Basically the system is one way at a time, if vehicles approached and indicated that they wanted to go up that road, I would radio the lads and find out if the road ahead was clear, I would then ask traffic to proceed and the same applied to me, I had to make sure no traffic was blocking my side .  If no one was posted there, it would be a major inconvenience, just imagine a huge circus truck or the double decker pizza bus going up that road and then finding another vehicle coming the opposite way, that is a heck of a lot of reversing and would be very time consuming.

So two and a half shifts later I am free to enjoy the rest of the festival, so I plan the day to hitch into town and get supplies, food, drink, tobacco and skins.  Through Tuesday and Wednesday I got to know quite a few of the workers and discovered some cool areas near production such as Kev’s Kitchen, where there would be cool electronic sounds blasting out and some amazing coffee and cool folk.  I also received some fantastic news from  my good friend Anders, his wife Mayo gave birth to a baby girl they named Hannah, so something else to celebrate too.

Kev's Kitchen, a lovely wee cafe that operated for the pre-festival.

Kev’s Kitchen, a lovely wee cafe that operated for the pre-festival.

Another area near production was the tool shed in the stables area, where you went for the buggies, ladders and all sorts of equipment for putting together the stages and installations, the two way radios were also controlled here, it was a nice place to call around to at night to sup a beer or two with nice sounds blasting out and to have a chat.  The Decor barn was another cool area where folk were preparing the art to add to installations in the woods.

The Body & Soul Decor Barns.

The Body & Soul Decor Barns.

The Body & Soul Decor Barns.

The Body & Soul Decor Barns.

By Thursday I learned to just hitch from the production gate as it was busier than Gate E, the first van to come out was a bunch of lads working for Bulmers who gave me a lift to Athboy and back to the site again, I was to meet them again through the weekend.  Most of Thursday was spent taking photos of workers putting the finishing touches to the stages and installations.

Working at the installations.

Working at the installations.

Putting the finishing touches to the wicker.

Putting the finishing touches to the wicker.

Workers at a light installation.

Workers at a light installation.

The great big bird ready to be hoisted high in the trees.

The great big bird ready to be hoisted high in the trees.

A cool piece of art displaying art.

A cool piece of art displaying art.

A light installation that sits opposite the Reckless in Love stage.

A light installation that sits opposite the Reckless in Love stage.

A cool installation near Green Crafts.

A cool installation near Green Crafts.

Friday 20th June

Thursday was a late night so I possibly got about five hours sleep until the blazing sun started cooking me in my tent, it was an absolute scorcher of a day.  It was about 11.30 am so about three and a half hours until the arena stalls opened up, I really needed a coffee.  So off to the Body & Soul catering place where they gave me a brunch on the house, having paid for the meal the previous night I thought this was a very nice thing they done and a great start to my festivities with a few helpings of coffee too.  The sound systems were blasting away testing the sound, the festival was imminent.  By now some of the weekend stewards were settling into the campsite, some of the lads that worked the Life festival and previous B&S’s, Conor Dunne, Charlie Smith and James Fahy, some of the lads I done the fencing with, Fionn, Shane, Phelim and Mikey jumping about in his jeep blasting out reggae sounds.  Sarah Richardson, the volunteers coordinator was also there sorting out arrivals and shifts, in fact there was five Sarah’s supervising the same team.

I went around and took a few video clips of some of the Body & Soul special effects laid on for the festival, the cool entrance into the woods from the main arena and one of the installations in the woods, the Glowhole.

I walked into the woods in the early evening to My House, the My House DJs were blasting out some nice vintage reggae and ska interspersed with some soul classics, from Toots to Smokey Robinson.

My House, great to start the day off or to end it there.

My House, great to start the day off or to end it there.

The Reckless in Love stage was not too far as you could hear its bass from My House, so I went over there to investigate and caught a bit of Eoin Ryan’s thumping set, some pulsating house music, techno, funk and soul.

The first stage in the main arena that attracted me was the Pagoda Stage, it reminded me a bit of the bandstand in Salthill park in Galway.

Tracey Bruen – Pagoda Stage 7.15 – 8 pm

Galway singer Tracey Bruen and her band were making a delightful sound on the Pagoda stage, described in Breaking Tunes as playing a mixture of indie folk with a hint of blues, her music also has touch of theatrical essence as she also works with the Fregoli Theatre Company.  Her voice was in fine fettle today with a bunch of multi-talented musicians making a glorious harmonious racket behind her to kick the festival off.  The band is due to release an EP which they are working on in the studio currently.

110th Street – Midnight Circus 7.30 – 10 pm

Galway DJs Cian O’ Ciobhain and Cyril Briscoe were making a nice pumping techno sound in the second biggest stage, having built up a solid base in Galway through numerous clubs in the city, they brought their brand of techno, house and funk to the confines of the Midnight Circus with a sizable amount of revellers joining in, in the fun.

110th Street - Midnight Circus, Friday.

110th Street – Midnight Circus, Friday.

110th Street - Midnight Circus.

110th Street – Midnight Circus.

At one point I went to my favourite diner, the Charcoal Grill for an 8 ounce steak burger just to make sure I was set up for the night, the nearest one at hand was just before the Wanderlust Stage in the Walled Garden.

Rubio – Reckless in Love Stage 7.45 – 8.45 pm

Caught a little bit of Rubio’s set, the Mexican played an infectious blend of deep house and techno that blasted out superbly in the Reckless in Love sound system.  The party was only getting started when I arrived, but the stage filled up quickly with revellers celebrating the first sun soaked day of the festival.

Rubio starting of his set at the Reckless in Love Stage.

Rubio starting of his set at the Reckless in Love Stage.

The Reckless in Love Stage later in the evening.

The Reckless in Love Stage later in the evening.

It was around this time that I received a text from Kevin Keehan, my flatmate who I have worked the festivals with over the last three years, he initially was trying to sell his ticket but decided on a whim to come down from Galway, so off I went to Gate A, the car park entrance to help him unpack his car and to get set up onsite.

Shane Linehan – Midnight Circus 12 – 2 am.

Shane Linehan was playing some pumping house music with a hefty crowd lapping up the sounds, the Cork man has amongst his supporters DJs such as Keri Chandler, Jamie Jones and Rob Mello.

Darkside – B&S Main Stage 12.30 – 1.45 am

At one point we decided to leave the Midnight Circus tent and make for the main stage to catch the last forty minutes of Nicolas Jaar’s project, Darkside.  This was my third time catching Nicolas Jaar and the sound that Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington makes is a very atmospheric bluesy electronica, Harrington employing a lot of Gilmourish histrionics on his guitar adding that depth of Floyd to the electronica.  Jaar has a unique singing voice, he immediately strikes me as similar to the sound of Edwyn Collins voice, kinda of dark and brooding but very unique.  Some of the music would be fairly downbeat but sometimes developed into frantic techno such as the clip I filmed.

Darkside - B&S Main Stage, Friday.

Darkside – B&S Main Stage, Friday.

Gypsy Rebel Rabble – Natasha’s Kitchen  (Unsure of the time, early hours anyway)

While walking back through the woods briefly our attention was caught by some amazing hybrid of Irish trad and bouncing gypsy music, this group had Natasha’s Kitchen packed solid, their energy palpable with that of the bopping audience, the double bass sounding like a turbo bodhran, with fiddles, strings splaying the audience with their sound, I hope to catch this troupe again.  They were certainly very popular as they cropped up all over the B&S timetable playing at various venues over the weekend.

We hung about the arena for the next few hours, it seemed to be a bit more spacious than the tight confines of the woods sometimes when the stages emptied into the forest and the narrow paths became packed, especially when 8,000 people arrived this evening making it the busiest Friday at Body & Soul on record.  The music from the Pagoda stage caught my attention again.

Generic People: Plug N’ Play – Pagoda Stage 2 – 4 am

I have no idea of who the actual musicians on stage involved were but they were making a very unusual electronica, the best way I could describe this was as progressive rock techno, rather than progressive house or progressive techno.  I don’t know if a mellotron keyboard was used but there was definitely some sort of hammond organ sound coming out but with a techno beat added, but it blended perfectly with the quirkiness of the festival.

This year the vibe was more relaxed, no security ushering us to the campsite at 4 am like last year, you could come and go as you pleased, plus there was a new alcohol free flow policy initiated this year, where once you were wristbanded and had brought your booze in from outside there was no more searches bringing booze in from the main campsite to the arena and the bars still seemed to do a healthy trade.  A few of my old festival buddies from Galway showed up, Sorla, Gavin and Caroline and Nidge, the last time I seen them was at Body & Soul and Life Festival 2012 and at their own festival last year, Sundown Gathering.  So it was great to be reunited at one of the best ones, we stayed at the main arena area till the sun came up smoking a few doobies and drinking a few cans.  I didn’t reach my tent till about 6 in the morning where I caught some shut eye before the sun would start cooking me in my tent again.

Saturday 21st June.

I awoke at 11.30 am to the blazing heat again where you have that initial panic fumbling for the tent zip to let the air in, first thing was to make the trip to the arena and procure a cup of coffee.  I took a few photos of the installations near my campsite, Jeff O’Riordan’s Mandala Nature where he and his girlfriend was displaying some nice mandala art.

The Mandala Nature Installation.

The Mandala Nature Installation.

The Mandala Nature Installation.

The Mandala Nature Installation.

Some of the lighting pods that was spread throughout the festival site.

Some of the lighting pods that was spread throughout the festival site.

We sauntered into the Walled Garden as another steak burger beckoned from the Charcoal Grill and then checked out the Wonderlust Stage, Siobhan Kane was interviewing John Grant about his record collection and tastes in music, the topic being discussed at the time was about Kate Bush’s 1985 record Hounds of Love, an interesting and chilled variation to typical pumping gigs or what not.

Tom Vek – B & S Main Stage 5 – 5.45 pm

I caught a bit of Tom Vek’s show in the early evening, the Londoner played his brand of beat rock to a sizable audience who also wanted to celebrate the sunshine as well as Vek’s music.  His music was a lively indie pop sound that complemented the early evening ambiance perfectly and set up the audiences mood for the day.

Tom Vek - Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.

Tom Vek – Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.

Perfect festival weather.

Perfect festival weather.

One of the beautiful decor installations, that got thrashed during the weekend.

One of the beautiful decor installations, that got thrashed during the weekend.

Strange art amongst the trees.

Strange art amongst the trees.

John Grant – B & S Main Stage  7.45 – 8.45 pm

I also caught a little bit of John Grant’s set, so many people have recommended this artist to me and he apparently went down a treat at last years Picnic as well as getting decent exposure on RTE’s Other Voices.  His brand of folk, alternative and indie rock was just what was needed to set the mood for the day, the track I caught a clip of Pale Blue Ghosts had some twisted electronica through it, he has strong powerful commanding voice and a bunch of versatile tight musicians who were guaranteed to keep you rocking.

John Grant - Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.

John Grant – Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.

Myself and Kevin just hung about the main arena as I wanted to get up to the barrier to catch the Gary Numan set.  Ever since 1980 I always liked Gary Numan the Tubeway Army sound, when I was fifteen I wanted to go and see him in Glasgow when he was touring the Pleasure Principle but I was forbade by my parents, he then played Electric Picnic 2006, one of the few Picnics I never attended so now I had the chance to see him after 34 years.  Numan seems to have embraced a heavy metal sound to his electronica which suits his style, reworked versions of Cars and Are Friends Electric were enthusiastically received as well a some new material from his recent album Splinter released last year, he also had a front row of girls swooning over his good looks in fact Gary Numan looks a lot younger now than he did back in the 1980s.

Kevin and myself headed into the woods for a while to take in the madness going on there, there was all sorts of substance abuse going on with the partying patrons, from what I heard some were flying about on acid whilst a vast amount of people were on strong crystal MDMA and the smell of a wide variety of weed permeated the atmosphere, especially from the Port Royal Jamaican Village along with copious amounts of alcohol.  The music was as suitably nutty with scintillating techno blasting from the Reckless in Love stage, gypsy and frantic folk music from Natasha’s Kitchen and electronic madness and Romanian gypsy ska music blasting out of My House, courtesy of Prints of Wales Band.

Jon Hopkins – Midnight Circus   1 – 2 am

Its amazing the difference a year can make for an electronic artist such as Jon Hopkins, last year he played the Midnight Circus to a half full but contented audience, this year the tent was absolutely wedged, his album Immunity released last year in June must be one of the most popular electronic albums in the circuit at the moment as I could hardly get into the tent because of the crush.  Security should have been posted at the entrances like the way they are at the Little Big Tent in Electric Picnic when the huge electronic artists play the venue, a one in, one out policy, mind you, I probably wouldn’t have got to see the gig if this was in place, they should have opened up the tent more as there was only three narrow entrances.  This was done for the Beastie Boys gig at EP 2007 and at Daft Punk’s gig at the Clash Arena at Rockness festival 2007 in Scotland.

This time Hopkins had a huge backdrop screen displaying his videos for the singles and a pretty decent lighting rig, the audience lapping up sonic crunchers like Open Eye Signal and Collider.  His set was fairly similar to last years with a nice smattering of tracks from Immunity and Insides, three quarters of the way into his set he unleashed a few new sonic crunchers that were not from Immunity but similar to tracks like We Disappear, so he is working on new material which I am looking forward to hearing when it gets released.  I hope he plays a standalone show some day in one of the city venues in the country, I can imagine it would sell out in no time.

The rest of the time was spent lounging about the woods sitting on seats at small stages and throwing ourselves around a bit to the music, then going to other stages and doing the same again.  Bouncing between the Reckless in love and My House stages, My House had Andrew Kearny playing a nice selection of funky tunes whilst the Mother DJs were kicking up a storm with some stomping techno at the Reckless stage.  We needed to go somewhere a little more chilled but with good bass groove, yes you guessed it, Port Royal the perfect venue to end the night in.  I didn’t take any clips of Port Royal this year but I did take some photos of the venue which unfortunately never came out, so my apologies for this year.  The Dirty Dubsters played the soundtrack for the end of the night, a mixture of ice cool roots reggae, ragga and jungle that had a fair crowd skanking away to the sounds.  I can’t really remember what time I got back to my tent at but it was probably somewhere around the 4.30 – 5 am mark, a fairly action packed day and all.

Sunday 22nd June.

Awoke about 10.30 am so off to the main arena for my coffee fix and a bite, met Kevin on the way who needed to charge his phone, so I took him to the Vodafone tent in the arena, the only place seemingly with recharge facilities.  This time I opted for something different to the normal steak burger, after hearing Kevin rave about his kebab last night I thought I’d give the Falafel and Kebab stall a try today, I opted for a chicken kebab which was fecking delicious, but boy do they pile on that red hot chilli sauce, I had to down a can of Guinness straight afterwards to quench the thirst.

I couldn’t help noticing the Good Times Lounge at the top of the Walled Garden, even though at no time did I visit it, but it was always pumping out funky music and inspired choices, the one track that made me stop and dance was the Tom Tom Club’s Genius of Love, it mirrored perfectly that glitzy summer afternoon.

Seeing that we were in the main arena it was a natural progression to walk towards the main stage to catch some of the uilleann piper, Paddy Keenan’s set.

Paddy Keenan, Steve Cooney & Dermot Byrne – B & S Main Stage  3.30 – 4.15 pm.

Steve Cooney, Paddy Keenan & Dermot Byrne - B&S Main Stage, Sunday.

Steve Cooney, Paddy Keenan & Dermot Byrne – B&S Main Stage, Sunday.

This was my second time catching the former Bothy Band legendary piper Paddy Keenan, the first time being in Galway at the Roisin Dubh with guitarist Tommy O’Sullivan.  Keenan had a nice selection of tunes, tearful slow airs played on the low whistle, cool marches like the March of King Laois and liberal  amounts of jigs and reels, proving without doubt that he is still one of the best uilleann pipers in the country and backed by the mighty guitar and didgeridoo  of Australian Steve Cooney and Altan accordion player Dermot Byrne.  A mad hippy in the audience started playing along with the band during a set of reels with a set of calf bones and he had a very nice rhythm too which you can hear on the clip.

Today was a fairly relaxed day and luckily Kevin was driving into Athboy so I went along with him and got some rolling tobacco as the festival did not sell it onsite, just filter cigarettes, I also topped up my Guinness supply to keep me going through the evening.  There wasn’t as many acts to rush about and see today so it was just a case of floating from stage to stage and following your heart with the sounds.  It was also a cooler day with more clouds but when the sun came out it could be still incredibly hot.

Animal characters hanging about the wood.

Animal characters hanging about the wood.

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (2)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (2)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (3)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (3)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (4)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (4)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (5)

Animal characters hanging about the wood. (5)

In the woods we mostly hung about the My House area and I sometimes had a lie down at the crew camp, there was lots of walking through the weekend and it was taking its toll today, I think everyone was feeling the blisters, especially when you walk from level grassy ground to the stoney paths, some of the rocks there would break your feet.  Anyway My House was playing classic reggae first, courtesy of DJ Mikey Joyride Sorro 6.15 – 7.45 pm (one of the festival production supervisors) and later on some 196os and 1970s classic hits courtesy of DJ Toby Hatchett 7.45 – 10 pm.

Max Romeo – B & S Main Stage  7.45 – 8.45 pm

Caught most of Max’s set, this was my second time catching him live, he played at Life festival 2008 previously and I missed his gig at EP but caught the Lee Scratch Perry bit in 2012.  Max played plenty of the classics from his 1976 album War Inna Babylon as well as airing tracks from his new album released this year called Fathers and Sons, he made the point that his sons were playing with him on stage.  Max Romeo must be in his late 60s but he still has the mad energy and voice of a young man and his backing band, two female vocalists, bass, drums and cool picking guitarist, keyboard and a brass section of trumpet and saxophone which rocked the foundations of the main stage with their sound.  He reeled out classics such as One step forward two steps backward, War inna Babylon, Uptown babies don’t cry and closed with his most famous classic popularised by the Prodigy, Chase the devil, what a gig, I’m hoping Body & Soul book Toots for next year it just seems right.  The clips that myself and Kevin recorded didn’t come out great, picture quality is pretty neat but the bass was too strong for our camera mics, which is not a bad complaint considering we witnessed one of Jamaica’s classics.

Max Romeo & Band - B & S Main Stage, Sunday.

Max Romeo & Band – B & S Main Stage, Sunday.

Stopped at the kebab place again and got a lamb kebab, forgot to tell them to go easy on the chilli sauce, so another can of Guinness was had to quench the burning thirst although a damn fine tasty kebab.  It was then back to the campsite to get my remaining cans of Guinness to polish of for the festivals end, I also lay down for half an hour to rest up my feet, how other people can continue to dance all day is just beyond me although there was some dehydrated casualties throughout the weekend that kept the medical orderlies busy.

Alle Farben – Midnight Circus   9 pm – 12 am

I was looking forward to the madness of James Holden, myself and Kevin wandered in about 9.10 pm, the music was good, nice and chunky with just about the right amount of phasey distortion, but sometimes Farben would play some cheesy vocal samples which I thought didn’t seem kinda like the stuff Holden would do, its only when I glanced at my watch and saw the time being 10.15 I realised the DJs hadn’t switched over, so now I was aware that this wasn’t James Holden.  Giving Farben his dues he had a packed floor which never really emptied so he must have been doing something right, it was just a pity about Holden cancelling, what I heard the following day was that the airline Holden was travelling with had lost his synthesizer forcing him to cancel.

Farben played many different styles. tech house, trance, deep house and electro house amongst other genres and he paid ode to other DJs of his ilk dropping tracks such as Laurent Garnier’s Man with a red face and a few other notable ditties, his set done exactly what it said in the tin, it would keep you dancing until the close of stage.  At some pont after 11 pm we nearly forgot about going to see Caribou so set off to the main stage.

Caribou – B&S Main Stage   10.45 pm – 12 am.

As we were making our way to the main stage I could recognise the sound effects from the Caribou single Odessa so it meant we were catching that last quarter hour of his set, Odessa is usually played three quarters of the way through his set.  There was no chance of getting to the front as it was absolutely wedged so we were a considerable distance from the stage.  I was lucky as I had caught his full set before at the Aphex Twin Forbidden Fruit day in 2011, but this was the first time Kevin had seen the Canadian.  He played a few more numbers with his trade mark psychedelic electronica, Caribou always has a tight band with good drums, guitars and cool atmospheric keyboards, he also has a decent soft kind of voice that fits the music perfectly.  He finished with the track that brought the sun out at Forbidden Fruit called Sun which is a nice way to round it off as the sun never really left for the weekend.  Unfortunately this was the last video clip I took which is unmercifully short as my camera ran out of memory space.

We didn’t have much energy after this, we made our way back to the wood and hung about My House for a while, but it just seemed to lively for our tired out selves, so we made a decision to go to Port Royal to listen to some chill roots and maybe some jungle too.  I met a few randomers from Dublin here who were incredibly friendly but unfortunately we had turned into zombies caught in a trance.  The music was great all the same, The OI OI Sound System was blasting out some wicked roots and then the great Cian Finn took over at 1 am, so a chilled night of roots it was.  But both me and Kevin made a decision to hit the hay, the long weekend had taken its toll and I went out like a light bulb as soon as I lay down in my tent.  Seemingly I heard a few days later that everything shut down at 2 am, even though some stages was advertised as closing at 4 am, so I don’t know what that was about.

Monday 23rd June.

Woke up about 8.30 as the sun was cracking the stones and I was slowly getting microwaved in my tent, so I set about gathering everything up and packing it away.  I was thinking to myself what a glorious festival that was and that you couldn’t have wished for better weather.  Finally with everything packed up, I gave Kevin a call to say meet me at Gate E, I said my goodbyes to everyone in camp, picked up my stuff and hung about Gate E waiting for Kevin, a lift sorted to take me back to Galway.

Body & Soul I bid you a goodbye and will see you about 100 km up the road in August for the annual bash at Stradbally for the Electric Picnic, please book Jon Hopkins for the EP end of B&S.  Love and Peace your loving music reporter Niall McQuaid signing off.

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