Longitude day one: Phoenix, Foals, Jessie Ware
Ireland’s newest festival got off to a scorcher
Django Django seem tailormade for this sort of slot. A big, blistering main stage in the evening sunshine is the perfect platform for their jangly pop, which is built on a high-tempo blend of afro-pop, surf music and stoner rock. They’ve ditched their matching onstage shirts, but have lost none of their energy or their eagerness to please.
It’s not the most unpredictable music in the world, and some of the songs could do with more development beyond a trundle from verse to chorus and back again. But in these conditions it’s a complementary fit to the sun-bleached festival stage. When the band pull the trigger 40 minutes into their set with Default, things really click into place with the crowd, which sets the band up for a strong finish. It’s a solid set, without ever being in danger of stealing the show. LM
In a hot, hot Heineken Project Live Stage tent, Londoners Aluna Francis and George Reid draw an impressive crowd for what is their third gig in Ireland (after Arthur’s Day and the Trinity Ball) but probably the first time most of the punters here have seen their dubby pop live.
Beefed up with a bassist and drummer, what they lack in depth they make up in a joyful frivolity, with Francis’s voice note perfect all set. You Know You Like It soars and a cover of This Is How We Do It could be better than the original.
A spirited and light rendition of White Noise, their collaboration with Disclosure, gets a rapturous response before their brilliantly woozy Your Drums, Your Love closes a great set. UM
Foals seem intent on putting more muscle on their wiry musical frames of late. Here, they take to the stage in a War of the Worlds-esque blitz of blue and green lights and smoke, which does its best to compete with the glare of the still-hot sun. Then they take an instrumental walk on the rock side, stretching their musical limbs like a band limbering up – this is an outfit with the look of seasoned professionals. Here, their angular, frenetic rock feels reinforced with more heavyweight craft work, and while it’s the older favourites of Blue Blood, TLF and, of course, Spanish Sahara that get the loudest roars, the band look just as committed and comfortable when ripping through tracks from their latest album, Holy Fire. It’s an assured set with a little elegant fury that’s combustible enough to power a small festival. LM
“I love you! We’ve got the same hair!” If you had a quid for every time Ware pointed at a fan and announced “I love you!” during her evening set, you’d probably be able to afford a few more of the €6 pints of beer at the Longitude bars.
Ware is part of the new soul vanguard of British music, and her downtempo grooves brought a largely female audience into the tent. Opening with Devotion, she encouraged the security guards to join her in a two-step dance.
While much of the set sloped a little too low-fi for a crowd intent on picking up the tempo as the evening wore on, you can never fault the brilliance or beauty of Wildest Moments, a towering tune that almost forces hands to the sky.
Finishing with the excellent Running, Ware had won the crowd over with her tales of her first Irish gig at the Sugar Club being a career highlight, her love for the audience, and endearing, honest and kind between-song banter. A final crescendo at the front of the crowd before running the length of the photo pit left her excellent band to jam it out. UM
If you are looking for inch-perfect French pop to sway to as the sun sets, then Phoenix are your only men. The last time they played in Ireland was at Spirit in 2005, but this time they have more material to draw on, with tracks from the excellent Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and this year’s Bankrupt! featuring in the set.
Kicking into Lisztomania early on, the four piece plus two showed a swagger that they could dispense with well-known tunes earlier in the set, yet still have some great more tricks left to turn.
Girlfriend is overly familiar to anyone who has spent too long on an O2 customer care helpline, but still fizzs, as does 1901. Some brilliant visuals enhance the set, with one smoke-filled segment proving spectacular.
But forget about the trimmings, because it is really about how tight they are as players, a remarkable lesson in live craft that doesn’t dip once.
Love Is Like A Sunset, in all its extended epic glory, proves to be Friday’s festival moment, an intense and blissful surge that sets the crowd off even before Thomas Mars takes up his position at the edge of the audience wielding his microphone gleefully. A thoroughly impressive and well-earned stint on the main stage. UM
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur
While Phoenix were delivering a masterclass in chic, elegant pop rock on the main stage, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur (TEED) was doing his best to turn the Heineken Live Project into a throbbing electro basement. He has a stage modelled on a stegosaurus, dancers dresed as dinosaurs, and huge, banging tunes locked around beats that have the kind of bounce and joy that made late 1990s dance music so relentlessly sanguine.
Orlando Higginbottom’s onstage demeanour, and indeed his vocals, might seem a little on the chilly side, but there’s no resisting the joy, warmth and groove in his music. This is a quality set that ends the first day of Longitude on a pulsing electro high. LM