Longitude day two – Review
Day two of Longitude got underway on Saturday to a sell-out crowd, with the main arena noticeably busier early on than on Friday. With wet conditions being forecast all week, thankfully the rain stays away again, with the blustery conditions being only a minor inconvenience. Kilkenny indie rock group Neon Wolf kick off proceedings on the vast main stage. Opening their set with early single ‘The Good Life’, the band’s energy is infectious from the off. Their vibrant melodic sound is a perfect fit for summer festival stages and the growing crowd get into the groove despite some sore heads from Friday’s late night celebrations. Having released a terrific debut EP, Love Lost in Design, back in 2012, which won them fans nationwide, the band use the occasion to play some new material. Thankfully, it more than lives up to their previous release, with ‘A Light to Reach the End’ showcasing a softer side to their usual sound. New songs ‘There’s a Meaning’ and ‘California’ already sound promising on first listen, with dynamic drummer Joe Glynn, a real driving force, and guitarist Steve Cullen providing some excellent backing vocals. New single ‘A Place to Call Home’ gets a live airing, fusing the indie-cool of Swim Deep with the earworm melodies of Two Door Cinema Club, you get the feeling its catchy chorus will ring out around many a festival both this and next Summer. Bringing their all too short set to a close, debut single ‘All Of It’s Yours’ goes down a storm. Having previously played support to established acts such as The 1975 and The Subways, you get the feeling that Neon Wolf are well on their way to something special themselves. With excellent onstage chemistry, buckets of energy and a hook laden filler-free setlist, the Kilkenny band prove to be one of the highlights of the weekend so far.
London’s Years and Years have had an excellent breakthrough year, having being tipped for chart stardom early in the BBC Sound of 2015 list. With a sound bearing strong influences of 90s’ dance and pop, they still manage to sound fresh and modern. Pulling a strong crowd despite their early billing, chart hits ‘King’ and ‘Desire’ get thousands of arms in the air. Having just released debut record Communion which shot straight to the top of the Irish and UK album charts, these festival slots serve as something of a victory lap for the 3-piece. Expect to see them higher up the bill on many lineups next time round.
Dublin 4-piece Le Galaxie are next up on the main stage keeping the electro-pop theme going. Looking resplendent decked out in all white uniform, they pick up where Years and Years left off getting the now heaving crowd jumping. Having put in the ground work over the past few years, it’s refreshing to see a truly unique Irish act perform on the big stage and they take the opportunity with aplomb, dipping into their two albums for a festival-friendly set. This year’s Le Club album saw the group continue their upward ascent and consolidated their position as one of Irish music’s premiere good-time party bands. Towards the end of their set, bearded frontman Michael Pope climbs down into the front rows sending the already rabid audience wild.
Just like Little Dragon’s appearance on the main stage on Friday, Oxford’s Glass Animals are a case of ‘right act, wrong stage’ as their quirky pop would sound far more at home in an intimate setting as opposed to booming out of the main stage speakers. They do however, provide an excellent backdrop to many punters chilling out in the evening sun and a welcome change of pace after the high octane pop of previous main stage acts.
Over on the Whelan’s stage, Dublin noise merchants Girl Band showcase their abrasive brand of noise-punk, light on melody and high on energy, they are a real ‘love em or hate em’ type of act. They do however, bring some necessary bite and aggression to a festival lineup that’s heavily focussed on breezy indie and dance music. The scuzzy bass intro of last year’s single ‘Lawman’ gets a huge cheer, and frontman Dara Kiely has a towering stage presence as he drawls his ‘stream of consciousness’ style lyrics. Having recently signed to hip UK label Rough Trade, and with their debut album due in September it would be wiser to reserve judgment on Girl Band until they have an audience more familiar with their material. But filling the Whelan’s tent with only a few singles and an EP to their name bodes well for the future.
As we drift back to the main stage as night falls, a special mention must go to the gorgeous surroundings of the woods of Marlay Park. Strewn with hanging bulbs and colourful drapings, it makes the perfect setting for the smaller stages. Catching the midpoint of headliners Alt J’s set, they make an unlikely top billing act. Despite not drawing the enormous crowd that flocked to see Hozier’s Irish homecoming on Friday, their appeal is obvious. Quirky without being too weird, catchy without being too poppy, the 70s’ style single ‘Left Hand Free’ has become a modern day festival anthem and ‘Tessellate’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ still sound as fresh and exciting as they did three years ago. Given the chilled nature of Saturday’s lineup, Alt J prove the perfect choice as final act. With a well-received 3Arena show last year, the band are getting increasingly comfortable playing the large stages. Overall, a great day’s music played out to a relaxed chilled-out atmosphere. Tomorrow’s closing day will be an altogether different beast, with dance titans The Chemical Brothers bringing their pulsating live extravaganza to Dublin.
Review by Gary O’Donnell