Review: Connect Festival, Inverary Castle, Scotland - Day 1: Friday, Aug. 31st, 2007* - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-09-2007, 05:54 PM   #1
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Review: Connect Festival, Inverary Castle, Scotland - Day 1: Friday, Aug. 31st, 2007*

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By Kenneth Maclellan
2007.09


It’s not often you get to spend the weekend at the home of the Duke of Argyll in the company of Bjork and The Jesus & Mary Chain, but this was the unique selling point of Connect, Scotland's newest music festival.

Indeed, like grey hairs on the head of a twenty-something, new music festivals have continued to sprout up without invitation in Scotland's summer calendar in recent years. Undoubtedly, there is a demand for more events of this type, best evidenced by tickets to the country's main music festival T in the Park becoming as hard to come by as those you'd normally associate with Willy Wonka. But while many of new events have been boil-in-a-bag, beer-plus-band affairs, with line-ups that may have quickened the pulse in the mid-nineties, the newest kid on the festival block, Connect, backed by Argyll and Islands Enterprise and dreamed up by the very people responsible for T in the Park seemed more appetizing: a three-day bash armed with an eclectic mix of local and international talent including Mogwai and Modest Mouse, situated in the grounds of the picturesque Inverary Castle in the western Highlands.

Strangely, but perhaps symptomatic of the aforementioned flood of new festivals in Scotland, Connect was a slow sell to the general public. Rumours abounded in the lead up to it about how short of the mark sales had been, with some estimates placing them at half capacity, inviting speculation that the inaugural Inverary show may also be its last. However, with tickets already on sale for 2008, it would appear that these rumours were unfounded. And as the crowd filed into the grounds of the castle on Friday, there was no hint of a dip in excitement among those attending the festival.

Naturally, as with all new events, there were some teething problems, but once the music got underway, issues over parking and the location of the campsite toilets faded to the background.

On Friday, the big stories from the stages concerned a couple of local bands, one more known to a wider audience than the other. THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN rolled back the years on the Main Stage, delivering a rollicking set. Their first Scottish show since reforming, the brothers Reid played it characteristically cool, with 'Just Like Honey' (AKA that song from Lost In Translation) going down particularly well with the crowd. But while the JAMC reacquainted themselves with a Scottish audience, earlier in the day, Glasgow's AEREOGRAMME performed together for the final time after eleven years together. Halfway in sound between Biffy Clyro and label-mates Mogwai, the band's set at Connect may have veered from hushed beauty to full-on noise, but at no point did it teeter off the path of being anything other in than a fitting farewell to a gifted, and sadly overlooked band.


The Jesus and Mary Chain at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)


Elsewhere, Brazil's CSS stormed the main stage, bringing groove and colour and outlandish cat suits with it. A hit at festivals all over Europe throughout the summer, CSS' front-woman Lovefoxx delivered the first star performance of the day, clambering over speaker-stacks, rolling round the stage, and singing songs about Paris Hilton, J-Lo and Death From Above 1979. The only thing that didn’t quite work was the attempt at the Scottish accent.


CSS’s Lovefoxx at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Shortly afterwards, while former Pulp singer JARVIS COCKER performed his debut solo album on the main stage, local boy and sometimes-KT Tunstall-collaborator KING CREOSOTE took to the stage. 'Anyone camping in the field with the magic mushrooms in it?' said the singer, 'Seems a bit of an oversight by the Duke, doesn't it?' Sadly, this insight into local fungi was one of the more memorable moments of a set that was curiously in keeping with the weather overhead: the threat of a storm, but no more than that.


Jarvis Cocker at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

But the best was still to come.

Brighton's THE GO! TEAM were every bit as exuberant in the flesh as they are on disc, and it bodes well for the forthcoming follow-up to Thunder Lightning Strike that the new material aired at Connect (and the set was heavy with new songs) got as good a reaction as 'Junior Kickstart' and 'The Power Is On' from their debut. Switching instruments, blurring genres, making the crowd dance, the main stage played host to an act that are old hands at this kind of thing, Brooklyn legends, THE BEASTIE BOYS.


The Go Team! at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Packing as many hits into their set as rhymes in a lyric, the New Yorkers hit Connect with the likes of 'Sure Shot', 'Ch-Ch-Check It Out', and, of course, 'Sabotage'. In between the songs, the trio engaged the audience with tales as tall as their hometown skyscrapers, the best of which being how the Scottish people owed them a debt of gratitude for slaying the Loch Ness monster and making it safe to walk the streets. Oh, and Mike D claimed he'd dual the Duke for the castle once or twice too.

With things taking a surreal turn, who better to turn to than the masters of the art, Welsh rockers, SUPER FURRY ANIMALS. With no techno-blaring tanks, inflatable bears, or golf buggies, the band's Friday night headline performance on the second stage was somewhat low-key by their usual standards. However, the lack of frills concentrated the attention on a sometimes taken-for-granted aspect of the band: the songs. Opening trio of 'Slow Life', 'Rings Around The World' and 'Golden Retriever' only seem to improve with age, and the handful of cuts from new LP Hey Venus illustrated that the band’s knack for skewed pop had not waned. One of the highlights was the reinvention of 'Northern Lights', with SFA ditching the calypso of the original, and performing it, as front man Gruff Rhys put it, 'In the style of Teenage Fanclub'.

Wandering back to the campsite after the first day of Connect, much discussion was given over to who would win in a dual between Mike D and the Duke, whether King Creosote was telling the truth about what could be found on the nearby cowpats, and, with Teenage Fanclub set to play the main stage the next day, whether they'd repay the compliment the Furries had given them. Connect had arrived as a festival.



For more information about the Connect Festival, please visit the official website at http://www.connectmusicfestival.com.
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Old 09-09-2007, 06:13 PM   #2
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I was there on the Saturday, it was a great day.
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