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Electric Picnic 2008: Friday

Friday at Electric Picnic saw Sigur Ros pull off a spellbinding main stage performance, Christy Moore lift the mood of all, and many comings and goings at the Hot Press Chatroom.

Ruraidh Conlon O'Reilly, 01 Sep 2008



According to one Friday punter, Electric Picnic is located not in Laois, but at the midpoint of infinity. “You can’t find the midpoint of infinity, you sap,” claims his friend. “You need to know the beginning and the end.”

Well here’s the beginning, and the end came too soon. It took a while to get going though: Friday’s sky was the colour of a ‘70s housing estate and full-on revelry took a backseat to curiosity as festival-goers poked their way around the site. The mood was disturbingly relaxed. Le Galaxie did their electro rock thing. New Young Pony Club added some 21st Century disco. Autamata enlivened the amphitheatre of the Body and Soul area, getting a tentative few dancing and throwing in a superb cover of The Cure’s ‘A Forest’ to boot. Tinariwen provided one of the more unusual sights of the weekend: formed in a Tuareg rebel camp, their distinctive African garb matched the uniqueness of their music.

Kíla were an early highlight on the main stage, and entertained all by dropping a red rope from the rafters, allowing a red-clad dancer to climb 30ft into the air and perform her aerobatics. The health and safety crowd were powerless. Later, the band told the Hot Press Chatroom that they'd been given carte blanche by the Picnic organisers to bring in dancers, choirs and everything needed to put on an eyecatching show.

But it was only by the time Christy Moore stuffed the Crawdaddy tent that things began to resemble a rock festival rather than a parish field day; punters were still arriving, and those already here had been drinking like loons in the campsite. It all coincided when Christy struck up ‘Ride On’, turning the tent into a football terrace, complete with ‘Olé ole olé’ chant. ‘Lisdoonvarna’ finished us off, and with stewards turning away hundreds of people due to the smallness of the tent. Lord knows why they didn’t just give him the Main Stage.

Over on the Main Stage, Alison Goldfrapp (pictured) was just about to crack into an eerie and overwhelming ‘Utopia’. Meanwhile, the omnipresent Jinx Lennon was in the Hot Press Chatroom, shyly explaining his art before split personality took over and he started ranting into a megaphone. Paula Flynn accompanied him for a gorgeous acoustic ‘Orange Cranes Of Greenore’.

Also joining us were living legends Mick Jones and Tony James of Carbon/Silicon and The Clash, Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. The boys delivered the spoken word goods and took a stroll around the Bill Graham Gallery before rocking the Little Big Tent, Jones’s solos and stage moves bringing a tear to the eye of wistful punk anoraks everywhere. “This one’s for anyone who’s ever had a run-in with the Garda”, says Jonesy, before delivering ‘The Truth’.

By then it was time for Sigur Ros’s (pictured) main stage headliner, and a dilemma: would it be an enchanting, communal festival moment or a dismal bore? Despite the recipe for disaster that was this most intricate of bands placed in front of an open-air festival crowd, they pulled it off with aplomb. The stage set (spheres suspended from above), white lighting and theatrical clothing did just about enough to draw in casual fans and satisfy the diehards. From far back the stage looked like a Spielberg dream and sounded like a classic fairytale that has yet to be translated. Which, of course, it probably was.

Check out our reports from Saturday and Sunday.


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