The first major festival of the summer opened its doors yesterday, as thousands of overly-optimistic sun worshippers descended upon the pristine grounds of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham for the third incarnation of Forbidden Fruit.
The weather had a distinctly bipolar ‘Irish Summer’ feel to it as grey rain clouds and clear, sunny skies traded places throughout the day. Still, though, it was a significant improvement on the washout that accompanied last year’s festival.
Forbidden Fruit, you may recall, was beset by problems during its inaugural festival a few years ago. It was heavily criticised for the overlong queuing times at the bar, for example, but the 2013 Forbidden Fruit has long since overcome any such teething problems. The first day of the festival ran like clockwork. Every band (at least the ones we caught) started at the scheduled time, there weren’t any significant sound problems and bars and toilets were conveniently placed allowing for minimal waiting and walking.
As for the music, this year’s line-up is hardly the finest ever assembled by an Irish festival but it is a very smart use of the festival’s budget and resources. Forbidden Fruit isn’t jam-packed with star names – leave that to Longitude and Electric Picnic – but it is full of acts who have been critically lauded on the back of a recent release, or acts who have a reputation for being excellent performers (or both, as is the case with a few).
For anyone who has listened to either of James Blake’s albums, it’s probably safe to say that you wouldn’t immediately peg him as a main stage festival performer. His low-fi, vocally intricate style of music lends itself more to headphone listening than it does to an outdoor festival, at least that’s what we presumed. Wrong. Top stuff. (7.5/10)
The weather gods bestowed some luck on Belfast’s Girls Names, as their set in the Lighthouse Stage began just as a rainshower poured overhead meaning the tent was nigh on full. This wasn’t a problem for anyone though. Girls Names powered through a churning, bass-heavy Pixies-esque set with aplomb. (7/10)
After a quick detour to witness IAMAMIWHOAMI and their giant, glowing cube on stage (6.5/10) it was back to the Lighthouse for a healthy dose of delta-blues and Americana all the way from…Dublin. The Hot Sprockets are well on their way to becoming fully-fledged hometown heroes. There wasn’t a foot in the room that wasn’t tapping. (8/10)
Ghostpoet was one of the true revelations of the day. Some performers just have an innate ability to energise a crowd, or those around them, and Ghostpoet is certainly one of those. The Londoner is an MC of the highest regard, fusing an impressive live-performance with great production skills and stage manner. (9/10)
By this point Kasabian were underway on the main stage and brought with them the biggest crowd of the day so far. Tom, Sergio and pals have long been one of the hardest working bands in the rock n’ roll movement in the UK and the throngs of fans in attendance signified that. Even further, you know you’re a big deal when you can headline a festival after not playing all year and coming up on two years since the release of your last album. Either way, Kasabian have been here and done this before and expertly got the crowd up for the show. (7/10)
By now it was time to go and witness the people’s headliners of Forbidden Fruit 2013 – Le Galaxie. And boy, were they up for it. Having long been one of the best live acts in the country, you get the impression lately that everyone else is starting to get on board the Le Galaxie express. Better late than never. Le Galaxie were up for it last night. And anyone who’s seen them before will know exactly how much weight that description holds because, when they’re enjoying themselves, there isn’t a finer band in Ireland. Incredible stuff. (9.5/10)
Day two review to follow on Bank Holiday Monday.