Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Italia Wave – Friday

For some reason, there are no drunks of any age at Italia Wave. On the campsite, for instance, there’s no-one walking in struggling under the weight of a slab of beer. Instead, you have what must pass for the most …

Mon, Jul 23, 2007, 10:57

   

For some reason, there are no drunks of any age at Italia Wave.

On the campsite, for instance, there’s no-one walking in struggling under the weight of a slab of beer. Instead, you have what must pass for the most chilled festival campsite in Europe this summer.

As the festival goes on, you stop wondering about when the drunks are going to appear and when it’s all going to go wrong. The beer tents are doing healthy business and people are sitting around drinking wine, but those sights and sounds all too common to Irish festival goers when drink and people mix never materialise. The bars keep serving until the wee small hours and still, there’s no bother. Strange, that.

Lets leave the Venn diagram involving the Irish, alcohol and stupidity for another day and concentrate on the music.

Enter Shikari’s stageshow now consists of them re-enacting various moments from a Jane Fonda workout video to a sound which is beginning to tire a tad. Back in January, their rock and rave wham-bam was one of the Eurosonic highlights but, while there’s much commendable exertion and energy, there’s no real glint of substance.

It’s interesting to note too just how much stronger and convincing ES are when there’s a roof over their heads. On the main stage with the sun still shining, their sound just goes everyone’s head. It doesn’t help their cause that their actual songs just don’t have the same wallop as the band obviously believe their possess.

Instead, the drummer climbs up the PA stack and then down again, while the others practice their dance moves and do more press-ups. It may well be a future extreme sport, but it’s unlikely that ES will be doing this when they’re 40.

By contrast, theres much to take from Joan As Policewoman’s superbly pitched set. The songs we know from “Real Life” are present and correct, but it’s the new ones which really have us humming. Like “Are You Not Furious?”, her fiery diatribe about the current US administration which sounds like Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” only with added oomph. Throughout, the crowd cheer and bravo Joan Wasser’s every move while she sits, diva-like, at her piano and purrs. Hey, maybe she is the new Nina.

Of course, the new all improved one-site-fits-all Italia Wave is about more than the music. While there’s no sign of the Slow Food chocolate love-in which wowed us at Arezzo last year, there is the rather excellent Switch social network centre. Call it a chill-out zone and it will stick. Loads of beatless sounds and experimental visuals played to people lying on the grass looking at the sky.

The night is closed by The Good The Bad & The Queen, Damon Albarn’s latest side-project which has turned, like all of his non-Blur efforts, into a very good thing indeed. It’s surprisingly dramatic too, right from the half-lit stage-set and the Dickensian back-drop to the string quartet in top hats and Paul Simonon mooching over every square inch of the stage, his bass guitar at half-mast. The material is moody, melancholic and quite magnificent, all deep dub throbs and Tony Allen’s hypnotic beat with Albarn’s lyrics cutting the symphonies right through the middle. They’re going to be quite the showstoppers in Stradbally.

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