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Cork, Ireland
An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Live Review: Harmonic (Villagers, Camera Obscura, Midlake, Grizzly Bear)

Venue: Live at the Marquee, Docklands, Cork.

Date & Time: Friday 25th July, Doors @ 6.00pm. Acts from 6.30pm to midnight.

The first ever Harmonic event at Cork's Live at the Marquee festivities took place last night with the stunning line-up of Grizzly Bear, Midlake, Camera Obscura and Villagers all in residence. Drawing a substantially larger crowd than many had expected, the Marquee was packed to the rafters and all in attendance were treated to glorious displays from all. A resounding success.

Villagers got things kicked off at 6.30pm. Playing a 45 minute set, Conor O'Brien and co. were clearly in awe themselves. "Oh my God, you came!" Conor remarked at the beginning, before being blown away by the realisation that almost the entire tent was full for their performance. The set incorporated the majority of their stunning debut, Becoming A Jackal, with highlights including the title track, the album's opener I Saw The Dead, That Day, Home and Set The Tigers Free. Walking around after Villagers had finished their set, it became clear to me that I wasn't alone in thinking that we had just witnessed something special. Conor seems to be in his element in the live arena, his voice note perfect from start to finish. An absolutely incredible set.

They were followed by Camera Obscura who took to the stage at 7.45pm. The veteran Scots promptly informed the crowd that this would be their last show for "a very long time" and that they were honoured to perform in the presence of such acts. Unfortunately, aside from the opener, My Maudlin Career, and a handful of other tracks (French Navy, Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken, The Sweetest Thing) the set fell a little flat. The band themselves lack genuine stage presence and looked a little bored with it all - perhaps retirement is the right thing for them. The aforementioned tracks were quite lively and got a good reaction from the crowd, but after the heights reached by the opening act, Camera Obscura did not do themselves justice.

At 9.00pm on the dot, the first of the two headline acts graced the stage. The ragged Texans Midlake comprised of seven members (rather than the usual five) and experimented with roaring guitars, pan-flutes, recorders and more. An absolutely magnificent display, the band hopped from their traditional rustic sound to a genuine rock sense with such ease - I kept thinking that this was like watching old videos of psychedelic rock bands from the 1970s. Their songs take on a totally new dimension when performed live, much heavier than on record. Tim Smith's vocals are much more solid and assured than I had expected too. The crowd were treated to two impromptu instrumental jams (the first was the show opener and was stunning), while they also delivered the majority of fan favourites: Acts of Man, Roscoe, Bandits, Van Occupanther, Head Home, Rulers Ruling All Things. I could go on. The band themselves have always claimed an affinity with Led Zeppelin, and this is certainly much clearer when seeing them live. Scorching guitars, flutes, subdued and glorious harmonies... Mind bendingly brilliant.

Finally, at 10.45pm Grizzly Bear took to the stage. The four piece performed until midnight to a packed tent, the crowd joining them in their soaring harmonies from start to finish. Drost and Rossen were on flying form, playing with the crowd ("is anyone coming back here on July 5th for Snoop? Come on we'll all be back for Snoop!") and thanking their incredible support (they even mentioned how amazing they felt Villagers were - a glowing review if ever I heard one!) The stage was adorned with hanging lanterns that lit and quenched in time to the music, giving a real mellow, almost under-water vibe at times. Haunting and beautiful, the highlight for me was Knife from 2006's Yellow House, though honourable mentions for Two Weeks, While You Wait For The Others and Foreground from last year's Veckatimest. The crowd were really receptive, genuinely enthralled with the Brooklyn band. A beautiful set.

Congrats to Aiken Promotions for taking the risk on this event and, without a doubt, it should be considered a resounding success. It ran like clockwork without a hint of trouble. The acts were on the top of their game and seemed genuinely excited to be playing to the Cork crowd (both Midlake and Grizzly Bear remarking that they had never been to Cork before and were very enthusiastic in their visitation) If I see a better gig this summer, I'll be stunned.


  1. nice one ,didnt make it myself,sound like a good gig

  2. A great night of quality music indeed. Totally agree with your review. It was the first time i'd seen any of these acts live. Villagars were absolutely superb. Right up there with Midlake and Grizzly Bear. Congrats to organisers.

  3. I couldn't have said it better myself - I unfortunately missed most of Villagers, but agree that Camera Obscura were lacklustre to say the least. On the otherhand, Midlake were suberb, great guitars, and yes, much heavier than I expected. Grizzly Bear's set completely blew me away from start to finish, and with such a good atmosphere in the crowd. It was well worth the trip from England for this very special night in Cork.