Body & Soul reviews: Sun shines bright on stellar line-up

John Grant, Gary Numan, Goldfrapp and Jon Hopkins delight festival crowd

Artist: Darkside, John Grant, Jape, Goldfrapp, Jon Hopkins, Gary Numan, Mount Kimbie, The Field

Venue: Ballinlough Castle

Date Reviewed: June 20th, 2014

With capacity up more than 30 per cent at this year’s Body and Soul, there’s a need to push the musical lineup’s capacity to match. So this year, the main stage opens for the first time on a Friday, with the stars above us and Darkside below, the sole headline act on a solo 12.30pm slot.

Nicolas Jaar is already a formidable DJ, but this side project with live guitar is a much broodier, darker offering. With most of the Friday night revellers packing into the main stage, the stage is set for a soaring set of music. Darkside, though, don’t so much slow burn, as put the oven on to preheat while popping out to the shops. It’s slow and methodical with occasional bursts of light, pulse and noise. Here in the outdoor natural amphitheatre, it feels a little underwhelming; this is music better suited to the dark, numb comforts of a city centre club than a festival headline slot. - Laurence Mackin

Elsewhere, the tents are packed with music and sound. Sally Cinnamon and Greg Spring set the bar over in the Jook Joint, before Donal Dineen sees out the night in superb, hands-in-the-air style at the prettiest stage of them all, Wonderlust, snug in the walled gardens of this castle venue. LM

Under the corona of the Body and Soul main stage, a wooden dome that erupts into flags like the rays of sunrise, a bass-led song surges, thumps and resolves in a thunder of ringing guitars and skittering beats. “That’s a song about being brilliant at everything,” says Tom Vek, the London musician who has long been promiscuous with styles.

It’s an endearing feint, of course (Vek’s appeal is being erratic) but he’s certainly struck an appropriate tone for a festival designed to channel positivity. Luck, his third album in ten years, is an uneven offering, the consequence of a rock musician migrating to dance and then retreading his footsteps. Yet, sitting in the grassy amphitheatre, lolling in Saturday sunshine and curiosity, the crowd take him as he comes. His three-piece pursue a loose groove on Pushing Your Luck, become taught with propulsion for A Chore and open throttle for a breakneck I Ain’t Saying my Goodbyes. They’re drawn together by the sheer force of his personality; Vek is having huge fun and, after Darkside’s tantric proggy pretensions the night before, (gratifications endlessly delayed) mainstage élan becomes more infectious. Peter Crawley

It seems like a while since Richie Egan has been playing live, and when Jape take to the stage it’s with a slew of new material – a brave choice for a 6pm slot on the main stage of a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, and perhaps predictably, it’s terrific, fresh music, laden with hooks and riffs, bass grooves and drum kicks, and subtle, sampled guitar stabs – if this is a further development in Jape, towards something of a cleaner, sparer sound, built up in layer after layer of feint and jab, it’s very welcome indeed.

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