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Electric Picnic Concert Review

For your pleasure, one day after the concert - here is Cherry Lipstick's roving reporter, straight from the front row - Ms Ruth Galvin


"Have you had your potatoes?"... "Oh God", I thought, "is he really going to joke about the Irish famine as the opening dialogue to Hungry Like The Wolf?".... Bless him, following Guy Garvey's casual audience banter, Simon Le Bon made a conscious effort to go a little more off-script for Irish revellers. And what he lacked in light conversation was surpassed with swagger, passion and the energy of a twenty-five year old.

Contrastingly, by the time the band hit the stage I felt like a ninety year old, my back and feet were killing me, having been rooted to the spot for eight hours solid for the privilege of placing myself front and centre for our frontman. The spectacle of hardcore European Duranies lined along the barrier was met by bemused rotating groups of festival goers, changing with each on-stage act - no doubt they silently wondered to themselves where this unprecedented level of dedication came from for "bubble gum" pop. I couldn't wait for our boys to surprise them into awe and admiration as I implicitly knew they would.

For myself, I felt I deserved bonus points. I had camped for three days in mud and rain and my planned outfit got soaked in the tent porch (doh!) by the previous night's torrential downpour rendering it unwearable. And yet in true Nick Rhodes style, (though I doubt he's ever negotiated a sleeping bag in a cramped tent) I was doing Electric Picnic-lite - eco camping, serviced toilets, Prosecco and daily showers. I even pointlessly (with the humidity) straightened my hair for dear JT. ....Cristiano if I knew you were hiding backstage you gorgeous man!!.... But as a promise of great things to come, the skies became progressively brighter, and as the opening (ironically Elbow-esque) chant of Paper Gods reverberated through my body, every ache had evaporated.

It was LOUD. Akin to Nigel Tufnell of Spinal Tap, our own Nigel was turned right up to 11, creating a palpable electrical current between the band and fans that was experienced pleasurably at the base of your spine. It was also a much fuller sound than I've become accustomed to, (this is my fourth PG gig) even the synths appeared wondrously fleshed out, as "The Controller" resplendent in a shimmering blue suit, unassumingly provided the lush carpet of soundscapes on which the ever-tight rhythm section and soaring vocals lay. The onstage band chemistry, and familiar universal chant of Wild Boys had the crowd hooked and in full song by A View To A Kill. It was a play-it-safe setlist for an audience yet to fully invalidate their prejudices.

In the run up to the festival, much media drama had been made of the line up failing to meet expectations (which happens every year especially as ticket prices rise, ...they'll demand posthumous artists next year) but Duran Duran were particularly easy whipping boys for snobby journos and disaffected hipsters. So the gauntlet had been thrown down.

Whilst Last Night In The City is not a personal favourite, Erin Stevenson was hugely impressive, no doubt having taken her inspiration from the age-defying vocal prowess of Chaka Khan earlier that evening. JT whipped up a frenzy of crowd chanting during Notorious, and gradually the audience understood the solid devotion of the front row of fans was entirely rational. There wasn't a single note of cynicism as the entire crowd sung every single word of Ordinary World with Simon. It's a song I occasionally watch whilst silently praying the high parts go well for him, but last night he absolutely nailed it. It was a rare moment of spine-tingling validation.

Post-potatoes, eggs, and other breakfast staples chat, the tempo was raised once more for Hungry Like The Wolf and the joyously boisterous White Lines. I love the current Girls On Film arrangement with shades of the classic Night Version. Certain songs can never be too long, especially those that showcase the talent of each member individually and collectively within one track. It was indeed some compensation for my dawning realisation they wouldn't be performing my favourite track, Hold Back The Rain.

And then, one hour exactly into the set, they exited the stage. One more song one more song the crowd chanted.... WHAT?!? How about 5 or 6?? But it was a festival and I knew not to be greedy, and I also knew the from the distant echoes of the soundcheck earlier that day that Save A Prayer and Rio were forthcoming. To my sheer delight I could see the Dublin Gospel Choir lining the back of the stage through the dry-ice darkness. The backdrop for Universe Alone was a visually stunning array of galaxies, begging for some small significance in a world so vast, and somewhere in that performance was the same plea to the audience too. But it wasn't needed, they finally understood. Sensibly, this is a truncated version. As much as I adore its apocalyptic ending, there's a sense The Universe Alone is not an easy song to sing, night-in, night-out, and a little of something gorgeous was something to behold and treasure.

As the song segued into Save A Prayer the choir was present both in front and behind me. I had patiently waited for this moment, it's been a lonely experience personally most of my life being a Duran Duran fan. This was the first time I'd attended a concert on my home soil and knew there were other people like me, as wholly possessed by their sheer talent, intelligence, humour and love as I was. The power of that singular voice behind me, the unique gift of a choral-enriched Duran Duran. The largest crowd of the festival was deservedly reserved for these four men, and their wonderful support crew. They were the crowning glory of Electric Picnic. A second blast of the confetti canons and some beach balls closed to the ever superb Rio, just again a reinforcement of how good a band Duran Duran are, but this fan was ignoring that, soaking in what I knew were the closing bars of one truly amazing gig. Having partied all weekend, for me this was less of a party and more of a spiritual experience of gratitude and oneness between me and my band.

I was incredibly fortunate this weekend to get a few momentos, a stage setlist, and the following morning a quick kiss from Nick and John, a few quick words with Simon. Poor Roger nearly got his jacket autographed by me with my over-enthusiastic production of my gold sharpie (I may be a bit bourgeois but I'm a giddy fan girl at heart. Sorry Roge!) ... But really it's the memories those souvenirs represent, the journey of my life reflected back at me through the music, the desire to communicate the sheer gratitude I have to them for accompanying me in growing and learning since the age of 15.

Which is why I stood for eight hours, begging to be heard against that wall of noise. I LOVE YOU ALL AND THANK YOU FOR THAT TREASURED GIFT IN MY LIFE. Last words to a soul that speaks to my own, JT, which pretty much sums up everything ...."Love, Death and Duran Duran".


Read more by Ruth at Head Full Of Chopsticks

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