Nostalgia. A heady cocktail of selective memory and cultural comfort. Electric Picnic is full of it. It’s almost surprising some aspect of the festival isn’t sponsored by Reeling In The Years. Whenever your golden days were, you’ll find something in Stradbally this weekend to warmly remind you of them. Whether it’s an up-close-and-personal interview with a faded star in the Hot Press tent (a blast from the past in itself) or singing along to a song that topped the charts in 1978, the Picnic aims to provide plenty of opportunity for mildly drunken sing-a-longs and a friendly environment for your kids. Is gentrification always a bad thing?
Picnic Previews #1: Token Irish
Picnic Previews #2: Madouvih
Booking the Cure to headline your festival is pretty much the safest bet in town this year. The legendary group, almost 40 years in the game, are one of the few acts who could pull off doing a three-hour set every time they’re wheeled out to play. With Robert Smith now the only remaining member of the original group (well, Simon Gallup too), their shows are essentially live karaoke, albeit with great songs throughout. It’s a 180-minute hits-fest, celebrating the 30 million albums or so that the band has sold.
Ah, The Blue Nile. Adult Contemporary with a very slight twist. Wikipedia lists them as “sophisti-pop”, whatever the hell that is. They were good though, if never really all that cool, and their atmospheric take on pop preempted a lot of what would come in the latter part of the 80s from major label studios worldwide. Eventually Paul Buchanan’s acoustic guitar took on more of a lead role than the electronics that defined their earlier work and it’s this trend that he continues in his solo work. While his first solo album was released earlier their year, Buchanan’s fans will probably be hoping for a trip down slow-set memory lane.
Another 80s throwback here as Dexy’s (formerly of Midnight Runners fame) have regrouped to play out the hits like ‘Come On, Eileen’ and ‘Geno’. Expect the crowd to shake gently from side to side as the white boy soul extends over the grounds of Stradbally House. This might well be the bottom of the barrel for 80s revivalism so, if it’s finally over after this weekend, we’ll be glad to see the back of it all.
David Kitt Plays The Big Romance
Is it odd to celebrate 10-year anniversaries of albums? It certainly would have been at one time but these days, it seems like anything goes really. Still, we’re glad its this album that is to be celebrated. Kitt ran through all these songs in Vicar Street late last year and it made for a surprisingly magical night with some genuinely heartfelt moments on stage and in the crowd. It won’t be quite as beautiful and intimate here in a big ol’ mucky tent but it will hopefully retain most of that feel-good emotion and prove that a lot of these songs haven’t aged a bit. Old friends and new together for a little while before life takes them back off on their own distinct journeys. Let’s raise a plastic cup to that.
Where do you even start with a legend like Patti Smith? This isn’t so much nostalgia as a visceral reminder of one of the most potent presences in modern music. A punk before punk was a thing, a genuine poet and an activist, Patti Smith is and always has been a force to be reckoned with. Her music has always challenged the male-centric rock cannon and fought against inequality, where ever she found it. Tied up in her beat-influenced free-wheeling rhymes and extroverted performance style is a way of life; free, equal, spiritual and powerful. She’s spawned a million imitators but no one has matched her yet.