Body & Soul Day 3: Santigold ends festival with explosive show
Surprise guest Batida delivers one of the Westmeath festival’s best sets
Body and Soul festival at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Although the full house in Midnight Circus receives Gold Panda well, he may be somewhat lost on the many who come for the promise of a tarpaulin roof. Few other acts from the weekend sound anything near the music Londoner Daniel Schlecker is playing. The set satisfies a niche role in bringing minimalist, glowing vibes to the Ballinlough grounds. A subdued production fails to fully swing the attention of the shelter seekers in attendance, but for fans the set surpasses expectations. Emily Longworth
“We had pyro[technics] but we decided not to bother,” say the Evertides as they skip on to the Wonderlust stage. The cracking chemistry the all female trio have on stage is obvious from the moment they walk on. Their close harmony-driven folk sound is beautiful and slightly bewitching. All are classically trained multi-instrumentalists and they switch it up between themselves across the set with ease.
However, they really show what their voices are made of on an acapella version of Mayfly, written in 24 hours for the 24 Plays, and close the set with a seemingly impromptu cover of Grease’s You’re The One That I Want. Their performance is almost haunting, staying with us for the rest of the evening. Aoife Valentine
Loah starts by putting us in a good mood, with the likes of Cortege, but she’s not going to let us get comfortable. “Now that you’ve gone to your happy place, we’re going to bring you back down. This one’s pretty dark,” she says, before breaking into a pretty arresting rendition of Stranger.
The Irish/Sierra Leonean singer is going into the studio tomorrow to record her first EP, but she’s drawn the crowd of a band with a much bigger name. Her sound, in her words, is art soul, a blend of folk and soul and something slightly jazzy. Whatever you label it, it’s entirely captivating.
It’s smooth and soulful and the Woodlands stage is the perfect location for her set. As she closes with a repeating chorus of “I am nothing at all”, we couldn’t disagree more. Stomping. AV
The main stage is deserted in the late daytime, but some devoted heads have placed their trust in the festival organiser’s choice of special guest. The Angolan/Portuguese artist Batida generates a unique brand of playful messing, while delivering an astute and informed dialogue on social equality issues. Pedro Coquenao grapples with the loss of his visuals, owing to technical issues at the start, but deliberately describes what the audience should be seeing and checks in with them after every few explanations that they can “all still see clearly”. He invites any good dancer from the audience to break the ice and accompany his sounds, but deliberately plays with the trope of obviously planting someone in the crowd as the soulful groover who joins him undertakes a costume change for almost every song. His music is a radiant, energetic marriage of genres, borrowing from hip hop and world influences, and it succeeds in piercing through the drab endlessness of the rainfall.
The essence of Body and Soul is perhaps best evident here: Batida runs overtime and announces that, with due respect to the stage manager’s wishes, he’ll only “play a short song”. Everyone loses it over his dismissal of authority and when he’s done he reminds them that the power is with the people, so everyone loses it all over again. A surprise highlight of the weekend. EL
The Midnight Circus is transformed into a cocoon of mellow electro by David August. The organic progression of the set means there’s a natural build up from stripped beats into kick-drum stompers, with a later audience more receptive to the creation of a palpable atmosphere. The set manages to grab meandering passers-by from outside the tent who buzz in to absorb the anthems. High-contrast lighting, a pervasive black backdrop and ceiling high smoke immerse everyone in sound. August is the appropriate wind-down for Sunday night.EL
Crowds begin filing in for Santigold’s closing set very much like muddy zombies in search of the craic. They quickly begin to get impatient when there’s no sign of her. It turns out she almost didn’t make it after changing routes multiple times. “We’ve had to leave some props behind along the way but we’re going to do our best for you guys,” she says.
She jumps down into the crowd for some quick chats while they finish setting up the stage. From the moment she starts, it seems she’s going through her set at double speed, conscious of putting on her best show despite the early curfew.
It’s still a very full-on performance: there are bubbles, a costume change or two, and two stoic, straight-faced dancers, all supported by dizzying imagery of everything from cats to supermarkets in the background, while the crowd are asked up on stage.
It’s a rollercoaster of a set, but behind all the visual glitz, Santigold has an incredible voice and the energy of a small sun. Punchy, up-tempo Banshee, Can’t Get Enough of Myself and Big Boss Big Time Business all show her at her best. She closes with Big Mouth, but the crowd aren’t satisfied.
She comes back on to do an old Major Lazer tune as an encore, screaming, “If I get cut off, then it is what it is.” Almost a cartoon of self-empowerment, her sheer moxie makes it the set of the night. AV