Amazing Grace: Metropolis Music Report

While there were highlights aplenty on all three days, it was a 69-year-old, hula-hooping Jamaican who stole the honours at Metropolis. Peter McGoran was ringside to see Ms. Jones and her RDS co-stars.

In the tail-end of autumn – clocks firmly set to Daylight Saving Time – there’s nothing more heartening than seeing thousands of people flock to a festival in their winter woollies. Dublin DJ Kormac begins proceedings at the Thursday night opening party, as the crowd makes its way past the three-storey disco ball and into the Shelbourne Hall.

Following Kormac are English electronic duo Mount Kimbie, who deliver a set both light with ambient synth and heavy with basslines. The atmosphere is added to by the flood of LED lights coming from the Algorithm-designed stage, which bathe main man Kai Campos in an eerie blue glow.

The final act on day one is the legendary DJ Shadow, who delivers an impressive 90-minute performance. In many ways, the San Francisco master of samples is the perfect person to close the first day of a festival that features everything from techno to R&B, hip-hop to house music – his eclectic set features all of the above and more. As good as all these acts are,

Thursday night is very much an opensing salvo. Friday brings the real party, as four stages open up to take in the weekend crowd. Kickstarting things in the Main Hall are White Collar Boy, who set the tone for the night with some blissful electronic beats.

Next, we scoot to the Shelbourne to see Girl Band, whose Red Bull-fuelled 50 minutes changes non-believers into converts. Lead singer Dara Kiely whips himself up into a fiery frenzy (the kind that only Girl Band’s music can generate), takes himself offstage to be sick behind the scenes, then comes back re-energised to finish the set. You’d have to see it to believe it! But the real party is kicking off at Metropolis’ smallest stage in the Serpentine Hall, where newcomer Mall Grab is serving up some delicious feel-good techno. Evidently no one told him that it’s only 7 o’clock and that opening acts aren’t supposed to sound this good...

Back then to the Shelbourne Hall, where ,b>Cyril Hahn takes to the stage and showcases his production mastery, mixing up house remixes of songs by Destiny’s Child and Sia with his own original brand of techno.

Finally, we head to the RDS’ Main Hall to see Jack Garratt. The sheer size of this hall leaves you in doubt as to whether any of the acts can fill it, but as soon as accomplished multi-instrumentalist Garratt hits his stride, he’s pulling in punters by the droves.

Once he finishes, the crowd hang around and wait with anticipation for the final act, German electro wizards Moderat. The three-piece German outfit demonstrate why they were voted Resident Advisor’s No. 1 Live Act in the World, delivering a blazing set of minimal techno and house to a sweaty, wide-eyed crowd. Against the backdrop of one of the best light and visual shows I’ve ever seen, the trio’s scintillating grooves launch us into the cosmos. When the set finishes, everyone’s still wired and scrambling to find the after-party…

And so out of the brilliant haze of Friday night, we emerge bleary-eyed into Saturday afternoon. The Sugarhill Gang lay down the law in the Main Hall, drawing a huge crowd at the relatively early hour of 6 o’clock. ‘Rapper’s Delight’ is obviously their signature move and Master Gee sounds as good as ever, but the Gang also have an arsenal of forgotten tracks from the ‘80s, which create an infectious party atmosphere.

Later, the crowd are drawn to the Shelbourne by the sounds of Fatima Yamaha’s seminal track ‘What A Girl To Do’, which is a nice aperitif for German electronic wizard Paul Kalkbrenner’s set on the main stage.

Partying as hard as any of the punters, Kalkbrenner is having the time of his life. His casual, no-shit-given demeanour hides the fact that he’s literally producing his songs from scratch. This is one of the best electronic acts in the world at the very top of his game. The set ends and loyalties are divided between those who want to hear German house duo Booka Shade in the Shelbourne Hall, and those who want to see headliner Grace Jones. For this reviewer, it’s really a no-brainer. Tonight, Jones looks as incredible as ever. She comes across like a mythic figure, painted in tribal colours and shrouded in outlandish cloaks and masks.

Only a handful of singers could get away with waving a flag bearing their own face on it, or having male pole-dancers spinning about on stage, but the iconic star is most definitely one of them. She gets everyone moving with ‘My Jamaican Guy’, references her Irish connections with a new unreleased track ‘Shenanigans’, and closes – unbelievably – by performing the full eight minutes of ‘Slave To the Rhythm’ whilst hula-hooping continuously. It’s an appropriately barnstorming conclusion to a memorable weekend.

 

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