Review: Connect Festival, Inverary Castle, Scotland - Day 2: Saturday, Sept. 1st* - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-11-2007, 08:22 PM   #1
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Review: Connect Festival, Inverary Castle, Scotland - Day 2: Saturday, Sept. 1st*

By Kenneth Maclellan

Waking up and noticing that the outside of your tent has gotten all glistening and pearly from overnight rain isn't good. When that observation is followed by the thought that you don't possess any Wellington boots, it’s even worse. Yet there were a staggering amount of people at Connect who began day two of the inaugural Inverary event in this way - myself included I must admit - making you wonder if the Welly vendors made more money than some of the acts performing on the stages.

The need for good quality rubber boots was not exclusive to the festivalgoers. But while the sight of BAT FOR LASHES and her entire band decked out in Wellingtons didn't quite legitimise those knee-length, frog-green boots as fashion accessories, it didn't detract from the otherworldly brilliance of her set either. Drawing a sizeable afternoon crowd, Bat For Lashes performed most of her debut album Fur and Gold, and justified why many music industry insiders tipped her to win the Mercury Music prize. (Alas, she lost out to Klaxons.) Comparable to Kate Bush, and PJ Harvey at her most esoteric, she replicated the unique arrangements of her songs with harpsichord, bells and, erm, a large stick that resembled a wizard's staff.

Bat For Lashes at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Following a beautiful performance from folk veteran VASHTI BUNYAN, more unusual arrangements came our way courtesy of THE PARSONAGE, a fifty-member choir reinterpreting the hits of Johnny Cash, Joy Division and Patsy Cline.

A mid-afternoon lull was the perfect opportunity to investigate some of the stalls and performances on offer away from the main stages. At the 'Silent Disco' tent, revellers were given a set of headphones and a controller with which to pick from a selection of channels, each with reggae, house or drum n' bass cuts - undoubted fun for those involved, and a curious sight for any passer-by. 'The Silent Players' arena was also a popular draw, partly because it offered real, proper seating but more so because of the DJ talent that graced it over the weekend, including Mogwai, SFA's Gruff Rhys, and Mani, formerly of The Stone Roses and now of Primal Scream. For those that wanted to rest their eardrums for a while, there was also the 'Speakeasy Cafe' which as well as coffee and board games, featured some of Scotland's up-and-coming literary talent such as Alan Bissett, and Alasdair Gray protégé, Rodge Glass. All very interesting; but nothing to keep you away from the main stages for too long.

In keeping with the recent trend of rock bands being booked to play on the legendary dance isle of Ibiza, the 'Manicured Noise' tent - i.e. dance tent - at Connect was also not the exclusive domain of the DJ. As well as the likes of THE ALIENS, one of the highlights from this stage, and, indeed, of the weekend, was the set of KIERAN HEBDEN & STEVEN REID. For those that aren't familiar with these names, the former is the guitarist in Fridge, more widely known as Four Tet, the acclaimed folk-electronica outfit that has produced three well-received albums and remixed the likes of Radiohead and Bloc Party. The latter, a wizened and greying jazz drummer, has a CV that includes a stint as the sticks-man for none other than Miles Davis. An unlikely couple perhaps, but one that makes for an extraordinary concert experience. Despite having recorded two albums together, the duo ditched this material in favour of a largely improvised set, and while some of the music didn't quite work, the thrill of witnessing the stuff that did come into creation more than made up for it. And where many musicians would be content to stick with a winning groove, the duo showed an admirable discipline to keep pushing themselves and the music into new places. And if that sounds like shorthand for showboating, let me assure you it was anything but.

For a while after Kieran Hebden & Steven Reid, everything seemed flat-footed. However, it wasn't long before anticipation took hold at the prospect of the appearance of MODEST MOUSE. 'Them?' said a whisky-swigging gent who'd asked me who I was going to watch, 'That's Johnny Marr's band, isn't it?' From the chants of 'Johnny! Johnny!' that greeted the band as it took to the stage, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was the case. However, taking a gulp of beer, and saying 'I've been looking forward to this all day' was notice that, for all the ex-Smith has brought to the band, Oregon's finest are still very much about Isaac Brock.

Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

After an iffy start, including a lumpy 'Dashboard', Modest Mouse gave a wired performance, with Brock twisting and stomping and yelping through cuts from their last three studio albums. While 'Float On' earned an enthusiastic sing-along, it was an extended version of 'Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes' from The Moon & Antarctica that was the real highlight. But it was all over too soon. Despite being given top billing on the second stage, the Portland band's set was a mere forty minutes, staggering when you consider that ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, listed below them but playing afterwards, were given double that.

Saturday evening on the main stage was a testament to the diversity of Glasgow's music scene, with TEENAGE FANCLUB, MOGWAI and PRIMAL SCREAM all in action. About to enter their third decade as a band, the Fanclub proved why they are as much a national treasure as the castle they could see from the stage, playing such classics as 'Everything Flows' and 'Sparky's Dream'.

Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Three-minute pop songs are not something you'd typically associate with Mogwai, and naturally these were not on offer from the band. After an hour of noise and beauty, the most surprising thing about a set that drew heavily on last year's Mr. Beast album was, in light of the surroundings, the realisation of just how close to capturing the feel of Scotland's landscapes these tracks actually are.

And so to Primal Scream. Like some rock n' roll Dorian Gray, the band continue to remain relevant and visceral, not to mention curiously youthful in appearance, despite having been around since the mid-80s. Their headline performance at Connect was nothing short of thrilling: the likes of 'Country Girl', 'Swastika Eyes', 'Burning Wheel' and 'Rocks' finished the day's music on a high. Unfortunately, one of the main talking points about the set occurred early on, around thirty second into opening number 'Accelerator', when someone threw a full plastic glass of beer at bassist Mani, hitting him square in the face. 'Who threw that?' asked Mani, 'Come up here and I'll break your f-cking nose.' When no one came forward, he added, 'Coward'.

Afterwards, still buzzing from the finale of 'Loaded' and 'Movin' On Up' from Screamadelica, there were many asking why any 'fan' should choose do something like that. There were also a few who declared how much they'd like to apprehend the perpetrator, and where they'd stick their knee-length, frog-green boot if they did.

Primal Scream at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Click here to read about Day 1 of the Connect Festival.

For more information about the Connect Festival, please visit the official website at
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