Body and Soul has always held a special place in my heart, maybe it’s the beautiful setting(Which includes walled gardens, lakes, ponds and their very own forest!), maybe it’s the consistently brilliant line ups, or maybe it’s the fact that I always leave with a sense of immense satisfaction and some great new friends.
Whatever it is, it keeps me coming back each and every year. 2014 was no different. We arrived pretty late on Friday, so after completing the task of setting up a 6 man tent in the dark, we got right down to exploring. There is a lot to explore, the festival boasted 10 stages with well over 100 acts. Areas this year included the Mainstage, The Midnight Circus(Complete with circus tent, cocktail bar and carnival rides), Port Royal(Similar to EP’s Trenchtown), Wonderlust in the Gardens, and the Forest, which included favourites such as Reckless in Love and My House(Think of your granny’s house with a DJ booth in the kitchen and a backstage door in the fridge!)
The weekend was so sunny that this blogger spent a lot of time lounging in the sun when he should have been checking out bands, but all the same I saw some cracking sets.
Jape hit the mainstage on Saturday with one of the best sets I’ve ever seen Richie Egan play. They have expanded their live band and have totally reworked their old songs to suit the new set up.
They were joined on stage by Conor O’Brien of Villagers fame for a live rendition of their recent collaboration ‘Ribbon Ribbon Ribbon’
John Grant took to the stage next, and it’s very easy to see why people speak so highly of his performances. The 6ft 2in frontman is a commanding force on stage and within minutes had the whole crowd fawning over him. The standout track for me was ‘Glacier’, where he was joined by Conor O’Brien, who was proving to be the surprise guest of the weekend.
Gary Numan took to the stage in all the late 80’s bravado that made him a star and he doesn’t seem to have lost any of it. He played a synth-heavy set full of hits and ‘Cars’ seemed to become the campsite anthem for the rest of the weekend.
Mount Kimbie were next, they brought their unique brand of band-driven electronic music to the Midnight Circus stage. At this point the tent was really starting to fill up and I started to wonder if it would hold the amount of festival goers who would want to see Jon Hopkins. Turns out I wasn’t the only reveller who thought this and tried to get a spot early.
When Jon Hopkins hit the stage at 1am, the tent was so wedged you literally couldn’t move in any direction. This ended up being a bit of a downer for me, as I was really looking forward to seeing him but the atmosphere kind of killed it. Still, ‘Open Eye Signal’ was a serious highlight.
After spending around 10 minutes wiggling our way out of the tent we headed over to the Mainstage to see Buraka Som Sistema, and boy were we glad we did. The Portuguese group played a stomper of a set and had the whole crowd dancing to their blend of African beats.
The rest of Saturday night was spent bouncing around all the little nooks and crannies with masquerade masks on and featured gratuitous amounts of bad dancing.
Weary from a nights travels I got up at the crack of noon on Sunday. First up were the fantastic MynameisjOhn and God Knows on the Mainstage. The pair have just dropped one of the best Irish hip hop records EVER in the form of Rusangano/Family.
Their live show proved to be unbelievably energetic and entertaining. It was exactly what the doctor ordered to get me in the mood for the festivities to come.
Next up was Deaf Joe on the Wonderlust Stage. If you haven’t heard his new album ‘From the Heights of a Dream’ then please listen to it now. Hearing it actually prompted me to start this blog in the first place.
Deaf Joe’s set was interesting if a little stripped down. He displayed his great vocal range and sang over backing tracks from the album. He took a few moments out of the set to urge people to vote yes on the upcoming Marriage Equality vote in 2015 and was met by rapturous applause from the audience. The simplified version was “You wont lose anything by passing this bill, and I might just gain a something”. He finished his set with a powerful acapella version of the old gospel song ‘Grinnin in Your face’.
Later on we caught half of Caribou‘s set on the Mainstage, which was great! The bass pulsing from the P.A literally shook the earth under our feet. The whole area was packed to capacity throughout, confirming them as firm favourites at Ballinlough Castle. Standout track for me had to be ‘Odessa’
Afterwards we high tailed it over to the Good Time Lounge in the gardens to catch Attention Bébé, the phenomenal 16 piece band who rip up all the best tracks from the 90’s and rebuild/rearrange them into more than they ever were.
Complete with Brass and String sections, Attention Bébé are the ultimate party band and accordingly they had the whole place hopping from start to finish! When the time came and the P.A was shut off amid screams of ‘ONE MORE TUNE!’, the brass section led a musical conga line through the tent and finished it off in style. Go see this band live. Now.
Things started to wind down and the last live band to play the festival were the fantastic twin sisters Julie and Branwen Kavanagh, otherwise known as Twin Headed Wolf.
They closed the Padoga stage with the a crazy parade of ghouls and fairies, bones, strange instruments, stilt walkers using people as puppets and much more that they’re calling ‘Shrines and Ceremonies’. It was a real work of art. The pair switched back and forth to playing songs from their forthcoming album on stage with the other musicians, to joining the madness that was continuously unfolding around them and acting out little musical plays. Body and Soul obviously aren’t the only ones who appreciate the care and effort put in to such a performance, they’re also playing Glastonbury this year. Definitely ones to watch!
They started clearing the crowds out of the arena shortly after, so we all floated back to our homes away from home to raise a glass (or more likely a can!) to the little festival that kept on giving. The crew and crowd managed to pull it off again, 5th year running. Bring on 2015!