Body & Soul Festival 2012: Review

As an avid festival goer I was impressed hearing Body & Soul director Avril Stanley speak to us on the radio show about the inspiration behind and ethos at the heart of her festival creation. Until then my experience of what Body & Soul do had been limited to their area at Electric Picnic, for the previous two years I had been Glastonbury bound while others marveled at the delights of the stand alone Body & Soul Festival in Ballinlough Castle Co. Westmeath.

Spirits and expectations were high as we made our way across the midlands on Friday evening. The rain had abated by the time we arrived on site, allowing us time to set up a reasonably dry camp and we were bopping through the woods like kiddy school kids by nightfall. The €25 Friday night add-on option made a three night weekender affordable and the late night woodland revelry was the perfect showcase of what we could expect for the rest of the festival.

Django Django and myself prior to their Mainstage gig at Body & Soul 2012

By Saturday afternoon it was clear that the persistent rain was no match for the festival-wide ebullient spirit. Cathal Ely and Reid brought the Upstage to life and across at the mainstage The Herbaliser worked the crowd with their tightly wound brass laden funk. Django Django made their second Irish festival appearance and now with their universally plauded debut album familiar to all, the psychedelic popsters charmed the partisan crowd with ease.

Most people, myself included made their way back to the campsite before dark to dress for the masquerade ball beneath the stars. The festival wide fancy dress party was lovingly embraced by all and the night was blessed with enthusiasm and colour. I caught most of Villagers bold set of mainly new material, and although the sound did not project as well as it might have had, the band pulled off the near impossible task of maintaining the attention of a festival crowd with previously unheard tunes.

Spiritualized opened with a wall of feedback and with zero crowd interaction still impressed this by now casual fan with their contrarily uplifting downbeat gospel rock, the title track of their Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space 1997 masterpiece being a particular highlight. Lee Fields & The Expressions may have been unknown to many before last weekend but the golden voiced dapper soul master and his red hot band were the perfect choice to close the mainstage at 2am. This was just one example of the thought put into the festival lineup and in particular the running order.

The joyous sound of The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra wafted across the festival site at 11am on Sunday morning. By 1pm Tieranniesaur brought both the sunshine and their irresistible DIY disco funk to the Mainstage. Hollie Cook, (daughter of Sex Pistol Paul Cook) may have also been unknown to many but her natural stage presence and tropical pop/ reggae good-time vibes soon had the capacity afternoon crowd in the palm of her hand. I was busy interviewing Miss Cook while Kormac’s Big Band worked the  mainstage crowd to festival fever pitch. St. Vincent who until now had I had paid little heed to, dived into the crowd early in her set, her PJ Harvey meets Bjork vibe definitely a winner.

From here it was a dash and grab between the Upstage for New Jackson and Emika and then back to the Mainstage for Little Dragon. What I heard of the latter was hampered by dodgy sound and technical problems, although some who caught the entire set say Little Dragon remained a highlight. With the ubiquitous single Midnight City and its accompanying album Hurry Up We’re Dreaming, M83 seem to have come into their own in the past twelve months. Previous live reviews had suggested that the band were at the top of their game, but even expectations fell short of the majestic aural spectacle that reigned on Sunday night. The French kings of cool must surely have been equally impressed by the rapturous response from their Irish audience.

Danish electro rockers WhoMadeWho pummeled the now ecstatic crowd into blissful submission with flair and finesse. Donal Dineen closed the show on the Mainstage before most made their way back to the Upstage for a loved up boogie festival finale John Talabot DJ set. After three days and nights of dancing and partying we rounded off our weekend at 4am Monday morning in a steaming hot tub in the woodland paradise. Walking back to my tent at 6am while others partied on, my body and soul now aglow, I recalled having a similar feeling after my first Glastonbury experience. Body & Soul = Festival magic.

One Response to Body & Soul Festival 2012: Review

  1. Pingback: Friday Freebie 29/03/13: Kurt Vile |

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