Gig of the Week: Love Sensation at Royal Hospital Kilmainham

There’s an undeniable buzz about the country’s first festival for LGBTQ+ community and its friends

Soulé is due to appear at Love Sensation at Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

Soulé is due to appear at Love Sensation at Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

 

There is an undeniable buzz about Love Sensation, yet another new festival we can add to the summer calendar, and which starts with a party-balloon bang on Saturday and carries on over into Sunday.

Adventurous festivalgoers with memories of dragging their sorry (and wet) bodies all the way to and from All Together Now last weekend will surely celebrate love the fact that Love Sensation is not only city-based but also that it is located in one of the very best landlocked enclosures Dublin can offer – Royal Hospital Kilmainham. There is, however, something different about the new festival that marks it out from others, newbie or otherwise: it is pitched as the country’s first for the LGBTQ+ community and its many friends.

Whatever the pitch may be for any festival, however, the music surely has to signify not only the core theme of the event but also be broad enough to cater to the music fan, irrespective of anything else. Glad to say that Love Sensation – which is brought to you by the people behind DJ/club collective Mother – ticks the boxes with a rainbow-coloured pen. Today’s main stage activity kicks off with Toucan, a multi-legged funk-pop group – overseen by songwriter Conor Clancy and pointed in the right direction by Martin Atkinson – that took the edge off KnockanStockan Festival punters a few weeks ago with a set of contagious brass-heavy funk. Toucan are followed by Dublin’s Miss Kate (aka Kate Stanley Brennan, a very fine performer/actor with an expressive, empowering line in electro-pop). After a sparkly set from Mother DJs, the evening continues with creamy-smooth soul (Soulé, aka Samantha Kay, from Balbriggan via London).

Lily Allen performs in London in August 2018. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images
Lily Allen performs in London in August 2018. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Bringing in the big names as the evening drifts from light to dark, there is Kelis and Lily Allen, each a bona fide pop star. The former is more than 20 years a hitmaker, with some crackers under the belt; never to be defined, Kelis has also broadened her reach as an artist throughout the past two decades, working within the areas of R&B/hip-hop (including Busta Rhymes), electro-dance (Richard X, Calvin Harris), pop/rock (No Doubt) and indie/alt (Bjork, Dave Sitek). While at Love Sensation, the singer celebrates the 20th anniversary of her debut album, Kaleidoscope. Expect the stage performance to reflect (possibly literally) the title. As for Lily Allen – well, vicar, this particular lady isn’t for turning any way other than what she wants to. Truth is, Allen – a three-time Ivor Novello Award winner – is a class contemporary pop music songwriter. Contentious? Surely. Truthful? You need only to listen to last year’s Mercury Prize-nominated album, No Shame, to know that.

Sunday’s tricks and treats include live sets from Le Galaxie, easily the primary go-to act if you like your electronic pop/dance music glazed with quality shimmers. The cherries on top will be gigs from the recently regrouped US band, Gossip, and – straight outta Cambridge, UK – electro-pop act, Clean Bandit. Add in the usual festival add-ons such as food stalls, bars, art installations and a funfair – as well as signature ones such as community areas, drag aerobics, a queer quarter, and the bound-to-be-fab George Stage – and you have an inclusive event that looks set to last.

Your hostess with the mostest across the two-day event is the never tongue-tied Panti Bliss, who you would be well advised to pay attention to. Remember – from unassuming weekly club nights to a purposed festival, Mother knows best.

Love Sensation, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin: August 17th and 18th. Gates open each day at 2pm.

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