Review: Connect Festival, Inverary Castle, Scotland - Day 3: Sunday, Sept. 2nd* - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-13-2007, 08:06 PM   #1
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Review: Connect Festival, Inverary Castle, Scotland - Day 3: Sunday, Sept. 2nd*

[SIMG]http://forum.interference.com/gallery/data//585/16762connect-sml.JPG[/SIMG]
By Kenneth Maclellan
2007.09



'I haven't played up here often, but you guys are always a great crowd. I guess that's cause you don't get much sunshine, huh?' While there is unquestionably a truth in what SEASICK STEVE said from the main stage, Sunday at this year's Connect Festival proved to be an occasion where that bottle of sunblock justified its inclusion in the backpack. Yes, even before PATRICK WOLF's lunchtime set, the clouds had dispersed and the hot, yellowy one joined the party.

And just as the sun lit up the sky, so 'Seasick' Steve Wold illuminated the main stage with the blues, and humorous, rambling tales from his eventful life. Dressed in dungarees and plaid, the veteran performer from Tennessee delivered tracks from his debut album Dog House Music with only a customised box for percussion, and a selection of guitars with varying numbers of missing strings. The most famous of which is his cherry red, 'three-string trance monster'. At Connect, he explained the story of the instrument, of how his friend Sherman had ripped him off when he sold him the guitar, and how Steve had vowed to play it all over the world, in the same condition it was sold to him, and tell everyone about Sherman's dodgy dealings. 'Of course,' admitted Steve, 'I knew I was being ripped off cause I knew how much he'd paid for the guitar the day before.' For a man of advancing years, who came on stage limping, Wold's showmanship was Hendrix-esque at times. But while there were no flaming guitars, at no point was there any lack of spark. And when he limped back into the wings, a crowd swollen by several thousand, showed their appreciation.

Indeed, where as the previous day on the main stage had been all about bands, Sunday was more about the individual, and a specific type of individual at that: the eccentric. A few more strings closer to normality than the performer he followed, SCOTT MATTHEWS illustrated why the musical path he is following may be one worth keeping an eye on. While the words 'similar to Jeff Buckley' have come to have a very narrow definition in recent years, i.e. overly emotive falsetto vocals and a penchant for 6/8 time signatures, Mr. Matthews is thankfully closer to Jeff in spirit than in style, drawing more from the Nusrat Ali Fateh Khan-influenced end of Jeff's legacy. Although some of the material did not quite match the quality of Matthew's voice, there are some who would argue that this was true of even Buckley himself.

Writing about REGINA SPEKTOR's performance is a struggle in so far as there is only so long you can go before you feel the need to use the word 'kooky'. And yet there really is no other way to describe it, though 'endearing' and 'memorable' round out the picture. Yet for all she appears to have come straight from lying in a field, interpreting the shapes of clouds for her imaginary friends, there is a steely worldliness to her and her music that balances things out nicely.


MIA at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)


As enjoyable as Spektor's set was, MIA provided a welcome change of pace. Nominally hip-hop, but really a blur of genres and influences, MIA's set proved to be one of the main talking points of the weekend. Airing tracks from the recent, acclaimed, second album Kala, the Londoners got the crowd moving. As the performance built to a climax, the duo said that if anyone that was willing to get crazy, they were welcome up on stage. Seconds later, a few people began to hoist themselves over the barrier, and join the rappers. Soon trickle turned to flood, and as early single 'Galang' began, more and more people joined the group. Before long, the stage was gridlocked with bodies, but this didn't stop yet more people heading for the stage. Then the music stopped. The reason for this was unclear, no one sure whether the plug had been pulled by the band, the authorities, or inadvertently by a fan. Eventually, a PA announcement was made requesting those who weren't MIA to leave the stage. Actually, the band exited before the stage invaders, and the last thing those who remained in the audience saw before MIA's equipment was taken away, was several pale, male backsides bared presumably in protest at the abrupt end to proceedings.

Thankfully, this image was soon forgotten by the much anticipated arrival of BJORK. In short, she did not disappoint. Opening with 'Innocence' from new album Volta, her set was remarkable in many ways, not least for her choice of songs. Indeed, there were several surprise inclusions such as 'Unison' from Vespertine, and 'Immature' from Homogenic, and even a couple of cuts from Medulla. But the hits were not neglected, and where 'Joga' and 'Pagan Poetry' tingled the spine as if it were a harp, so 'Army Of Me' and 'Earth Intruders' got you in the gut. The arrangements, centering around the nine-piece brass band, were sublime. The lighting was great; the theatrics captivating; and the finales to the set and encore, 'Hyperballad/Pluto' and 'Declare Independence' respectively, were, to quote the guy next to me, 'Wild'. The snowstorm of ticker-tape that was blasted into the air during the last song may have lingered long after Bjork had left the stage, but the memory of her performance will undoubtedly last longer.


Bjork at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

The other stages were not without their own share of fine shows. On the second stage, TILLY & THE WALL were wonderfully bizarre: unashamed pop but with a twist - no drummer, just one girl at the front tap-dancing the beat. Such oddity, not to mention MIA's record attempt at people on a stage, may have stolen a little of THE POLYPHONIC SPREE's thunder, but that didn't matter, they always were more about sunshine anyway, and they produced a typically euphoric performance. Aside from CRAIG ARMSTRONG, all the home-grown talent was to be found away from the main stage. Headlining the second stage, IDLEWILD continued to reverse out of the REM-tribute-band cul-de-sac they'd found themselves in, and gave sterling versions of oldies like 'You Held The World In Your Arms' and 'El Capitan', and signalled that the 'greatest hits' package scheduled for later in the year is far from the death knell of that band.

The 'Your Sound' stage was home throughout the weekend to the latest crop of young Scottish bands, including the hotly-tipped, Sunday night headliners, THE TWILIGHT SAD, who showed why Snow Patrol had picked them as an opening act.


The Twilight Sad at Connect Festival. (Photo credit: Jenny Anderson)

Finishing off things on the main stage were LCD SOUNDSYSTEM. Following Bjork was an unenviable task, but James Murphy and Co. almost pulled it off, and if you don't believe me, then take the word of the Icelandic songstress herself, who could be seen dancing away at the side of stage throughout. She was not the only one throwing shapes. Even the most perennial of wallflowers would struggle to resist the likes of 'Time to Get Away' or the outstanding, extended 'Yeah' when LCD were on this sort of form. No Daft Punk, but that didn't matter: few at Connect were disappointed with those who had been playing at the Duke Of Argyll's house over the weekend.


Click here to read about Day 2 of the Connect Festival.


For more information about the Connect Festival, please visit the official website at http://www.connectmusicfestival.com.
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