Posted by: ralphmexico | September 12, 2012

ELECTRIC DELIGHT ORCHESTRA: MORE POWER TO THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLES OF PICNIC PEOPLE

“The Moon Looked Down And Laughed?”
 
Sunday, September 2nd, Electric Picnic 2012 finished up.  That same day, half a world away, Sun Myung Moon (founder of The Moonies) died.
 
A cult-like quasi-religion, with a legion of devotees who swear that theirs is the one true path to happiness, enlightenment and fulfilment were in a state of shock, mourning an incalculable loss.  How could life go on knowing it would be another year before we’d all be together again in Electric Dreams?  I’m sure The Moonies weren’t too chuffed with events either.
 
Listeners, I won’t sit on the bush or beat around the fence: Electric Picnic 2012 was the best Picnic ever.  There’s been nine Picnics.  I’ve been at eight.  This year the crowd was smaller than usual.  The weather was better than ever.  The music was nothing less than brilliant.  And more fun was had than is strictly legal in Enda Kenny’s nanny state.  Let’s hear it for Electric Picnic 2012…
 
“Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space”
 
Friday evening, after the driving, parking, camping, meeting side of things went smoothly, all roads led to Grandaddy in the Electric Arena.  They didn’t disappoint.  They didn’t enthrall either.  A patchy set, still a million times better than the ensuing Grizzly Bear who stank the place out.
 
Eight o’clock found (we learned later) Gavin Friday dedicating “Angel” on the main stage to Bono and Ali who were in the wings and celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.  An infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters couldn’t possibly come up with suitable words to describe the ghastliness of such an event.  Thankfully at that time we were acres away, enjoying the melodic sunshine, lolling on the grass, revelling in a Gavin-free Friday.
 
The Casa Bacardi open area was a great meeting point in the centre of the Picnic site and it was here that we convened for a rump-shakingly fab set from Francois K.  We then skipped across to the main stage for some sonic sculptures of the Sigur Ros kind.  Which was nice.
 
Richie Hawtin’s peerless slabs of dirty techno, in a Little Big Tent so rammed it was like World War 1 in a phone-box, brought things up ’til 1am, which allowed plenty of time for galooting in the Body & Soul area, ape-acting at the Rave in the Woods, and general horse-play in other dark corners within the vast Picnic environs.  As the sun came up the night was still young.  The Picnic was off to a flyer.
 
“Today I’m Going To Soar”
 
“Dark Side Of The Moon” was getting the full Trinity Orchestra treatment on the main stage at 1pm on Saturday as we (in honour of the orchestra) “conducted” interviews with random punters seated at the food benches at the back of the huge field.  Good food.  Good times.  “Good Day Sunshine” yet again.
 
A wander into Mindfield saw the start of a David McWilliams helmed debate on “Does Ireland Need A Second Republic?” featuring such intellectual heavyweights as Fintan O’Toole and a frightfully bald Eamon McCann.
 
A stroll into Body & Soul saw a stint in a trad music tent making unreciprocated, lascivious eyes at a bewitching fiddle player who’d had the ill-luck to sit near us at the food stalls earlier.  Ho-hum.
 
4pm arrived and it was time for Dexys, the band I was looking forward to seeing more than any other at the Picnic.
 
Mention Dexys to the man in the street and he’ll think of dungarees, “Come On Eileen”, and fiddles.  I’m with Sid Vicious on this one: “I’ve met the man in the street.  He’s a c***”. 
 
Dexys singer, Kevin Rowland, is one of the music’s great survivors.  Thirty-five years of multiple band sackings, million-selling chart topping hits, cocaine meltdowns, rank bad luck, cross-dressing weirdness, health problems, dungarees, “Come On Eileen”, and fiddles – Kevin has survived it all, to arrive at Electric Picnic 2012 looking frail, yet dapper in a beret and braces.
 
The band struck up a tune.  Rowland started to sing.  “I’m in heaven when you smile/sing”, indeed.  That arresting bleat of a voice still amazed after all these years.  The new album is called “One Day I’m Going To Soar”, and we got a few soul-stirring numbers from that.  The sound was all over the shop, but the passion dripped from the stage.  And passion never goes out of fashion, listeners.
 
Then the famous intro that is the cue for mass invasions of wedding dance-floors the world over began.  And the greatest opening line since “You can bump and grind, It’s good for your mind” was sung: “Poor old Johnny Ray, Sounded sad upon the radio”.  “Come On Eileen”.  Jesus.
 
To be in that tent as Rowland led his troupe through this ageless, joyous song that has been hijacked by the squares and is now heinously viewed as a bit of a novelty, was one of the greatest moments in the history of civilisation.  Oh, yes.
 
The version was staggering.  It wasn’t a crass, epic singalong.  It was far deeper than that.  It was triumphant yet dignified.  It was as if Dexys were following the advice of oddball genius producer Martin Hannett who told A Certain Ratio while recording: “I want you to play that again.  Only this time make it faster, but slower”.  “Come On Eileen” was stately, immortal, divine.  It brought tears to my eyes.
 
I sniffled back the waterworks, but as the final chorus hovered into view I tapped one of the crew on the shoulder and pointed to my tear-filled eyes.  He smiled and said “I’m crying too”.  Grown men crying like babies.  Kevin Rowland, “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart.
 
A brief diversion was made to see some David Kitt fumblings on the Crawdaddy Stage, before hot-footing it to the Poetry Tent for an hour of family entertainment from John Cooper Clarke.  I gave “The Bard of Salford” a slap on the back as he made his way through the crowd onto the stage.  I’m writing this with the hand that hit that stick-thin back.  Evidently, some of his sharp wit has rubbed off on me, eh listeners?
 
Johnny Clarke was hilarious.  Some of the gags had been aired before, however when delivered in his rapid-fire, scatter-gun style you just had to laugh.  He wrapped things up with “the one from “The Sopranos” with all the bleeping” “Evidently Chickentown” and the always astonishing “Beasley Street”.  An hour in the presence of indefatigable greatness.  A treasure.
 
At the show’s end I made a wasp-line for Fintan O’Toole and Roddy Doyle who’d been sitting on the floor five yards to our left.  My questions for the esteemed authors were obvious enough.  “Fintan, what is your favourite Dylan song?”  “Idiot Wind” he replied.  I asked Roddy what was his favourite REM song as (I breathlessly explained to him) I’d stood beside him at one of those five nights REM did at the Olympia in 2007.  He took a while before answering “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”.  So now you know.
 
Things got weird from then on.  SBTRKT were enjoyed for a short spell, and I chose to spend the two hours after that watching puddings being made by feted Kanturk butchers in the Cooking Tent instead of checking out Patti Smith and Richard Hawley.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.
 
I re-aligned myself with some of the entourage in the Biergarten in the Spiegeltent.  Who knew that dancing around tables with random stragglers to “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack at 10 o’clock on Saturday night at Electric Picnic could be such a blast?
 
A stonking show from The Roots; a failure to get into the jointed tent for Caribou vs. Four Tet; a snatch of The Cure that offered up a massaging of “Boys Don’t Cry” and a murdering of “Killing An Arab”; a smidgen of Grimes: and a dull set from Orbital brought Saturday night/Sunday morning to a close.  Quite a day. 
 
 Long Day’s Journey Into The Heart Of Sunday Night
 
And on the third day we rose again… 
The yanks used to disparagingly refer to Seve as “The Car-park Champion” for his tendency to take the scenic route around a golf course.  On Electric Picnic Sunday we staked a claim to be “Camp-site Champions” by soaking up suds and sun from early morning through to mid-afternoon with a background charivari of The Dublin Gospel Choir and Lee “Scratch” Perry seeping from the Main Stage.  Check out my liver spots and sunburn if you don’t believe me.
 
Eventually a move was made and the last half of House Don John Talabot’s gig was savoured.  The enormous last tune was much sought the following week.  After hours of searching, on Citibank’s time and dime, one sound surgeon located “Cheaters Never Win” by Teengirl Fantasy.  It’s a monster.  Have a listen sometime- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEMoC-sOqyw

As the cool kids cut a rug at Casa Bacardi, I looked to a 69 year old man to put my maracas in a twist.  As you do.  Van Dyke Parks, one-time song-writing partner of Brian Wilson, full-time camp, eccentric old coot, was a poptastic treat.  Sickly sweet vignettes of jellyfish, marshmallows, rainbows and sunflowers – VDP was pop confection perfection.

 
Light-headed from the sheer splendidness of it all, I replied to one of the weekend’s innumerable “Where u?” texts with: “Cosby stage, centre-stage, wearing shades, all the rage”.  What.  A.  Tool.
 
That pearler loses out in the quality text stakes though to the following exchange between friends: “I’m in Body & Soul, beside the complicated onion to the left”.  “I can’t see u.  I’m near two simple onions close to the entrance”.  These people have children.  And jobs.  The mind boggles.
 
New ground was broken on Sunday evening with an unplanned foray into the record-selling tent.  The much-lauded musical youths The Strypes were there splurging their pocket money on Sixties British blues singles.  I showed I wasn’t Losing My Edge by buying a pair of Joni Mitchell albums and Van’s “It’s Too Late To Stop Now” from 1974.  Oh what fun I had hoicking the heavy vinyl around in a tatty plastic bag for the rest of the night.  So it goes.
 
Complete disinterest and juice-less mobile phones led to me being up-front alone for Paul Buchanan’s 9.30 show in the Body & Soul hollow.  The ex-Blue Nile man made me cry.  And these weren’t quiet, dignified tears like at Dexys.  For this one I gushed like Old Faithful.
 
Buchanan sang solo with very under-stated piano backing.  He gave us “Easter Parade” and “A Walk Across The Rooftops” from his Blue Nile days, and a half dozen songs from his new “Mid Air” album.  It was…..  I’m out of superlatives.  There are no worthy words left.  I’ll have to invent some.  It was splenbrillsome, astoundivazing.  I give up.  I cried shamelessly, and you’re all a shower of tone deaf ignoramuses ‘cos you weren’t there to cry too.  Peasants.
 
Still smothered in goosepimples and tears I took a punt that the missing revellers would be disgracing themselves in Casa Bacardi.  Sure enough it was Todd Terje tunes that were providing the answers at that time on Sunday night.
 
We all shuffled over for Hot Chip’s performance in the Electric Arena.  “Over & Over” got the biggest cheer.  Closely followed by loud approval for the weightlifting feats of a pint-sized girl beside us who thought it was great gas throwing some of us up on her surreally strong shoulders.  How bizarre.
 
There was still time for a final wander in Body & Soul where and idle hour was passed listening to the bells and wind-chimes in a wooden teepee.  I may now collect my prize for writing the most Electric Picnic defining sentence ever.
 
Leaving Body & Soul we happened upon a converted ice-cream van that was blasting out a few songs to satisfy the dance-lust of the masses.  Marcia Griffith’s reggae take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” was the platter that mattered.  And is as good a place as any to end The Book of Evidence supporting the claim that Electric Picnic 2012 was the greatest ever.  My case is closed.  My case is packed (for next year, already).
 
The Correct Use Of Hope
 
Phew.  The music is over and the dust has sorta’ settled.  Lest we get too comfy, here’s twenty heritage acts to dream of for Electric Picnic 2013, beginning with a pair who should take very little persuading to perform in a big field in rural Laois:-
David Bowie, Kate Bush, Ray Davies, Smokey Robinson, Randy Newman, Bobby Womack, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Julian Cope, Femi Kuti, Kool & The Gang, Prefab Sprout, XTC, Durutti Column, Felt, Johnny & The Go-Gos, Orange Juice, The Congos, Earth, Wind & Fire, Wire. 
 
How’d you like them apples?
 
 
Joe Meek Shall Inherit The Hearth!!
Ralph Mexico
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Responses

  1. Earth Wind & Fire at the Picnic? Surely the universe would implode!

    • For 2013 I want the Sun, Moon & Stars at the Picnic… Failing that – Earth, Wind & Fire will suffice…


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