Review: Longitude day three
The closing day of Longitude 2015 picked up where the previous day left off. Saturday’s chilled-out indie lineup was a treat, and Jose Gonzalez eases the early birds into the day ahead with a relaxed set. Opening with ‘Crosses’, the first revellers through the gates are sprawled on the Marlay Park grass, drinks in hand lapping up the beaming sunshine. The delicate nylon guitar melodies serve as the perfect background soundtrack as many begin to apply their sunscreen. Hit single ‘Heartbeats’ is, by now, old enough to qualify as a nostalgic throwback and is warmly welcomed by the audience.
On the Whelan’s stage, rising Dublin group Spies showcase their dark intense indie rock with gusto, as the tent rapidly fills up following the band’s arrival. The first thing that strikes you at this particular stage is the incredible sound quality. Traditionally, festivals are inconsistent (at best) when it comes to the sound mix, particularly on the smaller stages given the rushed nature of the stage turnaround and lack of a proper soundcheck. However, there are no such problems here as each instrument is mixed to perfection much to the credit of the sound engineer. Both bass guitar and drums sound thunderous and given how pivotal they are to Spies sound, it contributes to an exceptional set, with ‘Distant Shorelines’, ‘Sea Creature, and ‘Moosehead’ proving real standout moments. Anyone unfamiliar with Spies upon their arrival at the Whelan’s stage couldn’t help being won over.
Manchester band Everything Everything may not be for everyone everyone, but their wholly unique brand of indie electronica fully justifies their main stage slot. Appearing onstage clad in Asian-style pink and red gowns, they cherry pick the best cuts from their impressive back catalogue. Recently released third album Get To Heaven saw the band further expand their already adventurous sound and the title track gets an excellent runout this afternoon. Frontman Jonathan Higgs, sporting the kind of ridiculous haircut that you wish more rock stars attempted these days, shows off his pitch perfect falsetto vocals which serve as a cornerstone of the band’s sound. Though they may be slightly too quirky for mainstream tastes, it’s hard not to love a band with song titles like ‘Photoshop Handsome’ and ‘Torso of the Week’. The musicianship on display is as good as anything all weekend, with the intricate arrangements of the brilliant ‘Cough Cough’ played to perfection. 2012 single ‘Kemosabe’ is a set highlight which has a real summery quality making it perfect for the setting. In a musical climate where bands are being forced to conform to suit radio playlists, Everything Everything are beautifully weird and we wouldn’t have them any other way.
Back on the Whelan’s stage, alt-rockers Drenge channel the spirt of early Nirvana with a ferocious set blowing away those in attendance. Now bulked up to a three-piece in the live arena, recent sophomore album Undertow is a real progression on their self-titled debut. This evening’s set is a perfect mixture of both records, and the previously mentioned sound quality on the Whelan’s stage only accentuates their gigantic wall of sound. Compared to Saturday’s sell-out, Sunday’s festival crowd is smaller but everyone gradually descends on the park’s main stage in anticipation of dance titans The Chemical Brothers.
Dance music has taken a bit of flak in recent years, with many of its biggest players admitting their lack of involvement in the live sound emitting from the stage speakers. The Chemical Brothers however, have been at the top of their game since the mid-90s and they possess the kind of iconic and musically varied back-catalogue that the Guetta’s and Avicii’s can only dream of. However, tonight’s performance is slightly misleading given the presence of only one of the ‘brothers’, with Ed Simmons absent from recent shows as he finishes up his academic studies. The sinister intro of ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ kicks off a vibrant set as the lasers and strobe lights come to life. Having played countless festival slots over the past two decades, the quality of the Chemical Brothers live show was never going to be in doubt. Few dance/electronic acts can claim to have an array of ‘festival anthems’ at their disposal but the minimal techno beats of ‘Do It Again’, the woozy synth trance of ‘Swoon’, and the violin assisted thump of ‘Galvanise’ can all lay claim to such. The dark 1997 single ‘Setting Sun’ gets a remixed live airing and still sounds stunning after all these years. The Chemical Brothers live show is an all-out assault on the senses with the pounding beats perfectly synced with some trippy big screen visuals which means the crowd’s attention never wanes. Finishing the night with the stomping ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’, the curtain is brought down on Longitude 2015. While there may not have been as many big-hitters gracing the lineup as that of previous years, this year’s event has truly delivered from start to finish. Aided by some perfect festival weather and a beautiful (if a little inconvenient to reach) setting in Marlay Park, one can only hope that Longitude continues to grow in stature and returns even stronger in 2016.
Review by Gary O’Donnell