Primavera Sound ’11 – Day 2

        Photo by Alan Moore & taken from Nialler9

Johnny Feeney picks up where he left off with day two from this years Primavera Sound.

Primavera Sound ’11 – Day 2

Day 2 of Primavera Sound began with the imperious Sufjan Stevens in the Rockdelux Auditoria large limited-capacity indoor gig used by Primavera to house some of their more intimate shows. Following a very similar tracklist to his widely-acclaimed shows in the Olympia in Dublin, the opening ‘Seven Swans’ kicked things off with a spectacular bang and the show never let off from then drawing in tracks from the new album, ‘The Age of Adz’, and the new EP, All Delighted People. Everything about this was impressive and relentless – Sufjan’s faultless live vocals while navigating various instruments, dazzling visuals and light show, attempted mass singalongs, fluorescent costumes, quirky choreography and energetic full backing band. There was constantly so much going on onstage and it was a real feast for the eyes as well as the ears.

Avi Buffalo released a beautiful self-titled album of uplifting indie-pop last year and I decided to leave Sufjan Stevens early to catch them. Disappointingly the band decided to use their early slot on the main stage to road test new songs which did not stand up with their earlier work. Only when the band played ‘What’s In It For’ and ‘Remember the Last Time’ from their album did they provoke any kind of reaction out of the crowd. Until then it had plodded along rather aimlessly and they will not have made many new fans.

Tennis followed over on the ATP stage but their brand of twee guitar-pop was a little sickly sweet for me so I ventured over to the Fiery Furnaces who had a far edgier, rockier sound. The band had a classic band make-up of drums, bass and guitar with the suitably fiery Eleanor Friedberger on vocals and played out some no-frills entertaining rock.

It feels like newcomer James Blake has been around for an age after finishing runner-up in the annual ‘buzz-band’ awards, the BBC Sound Of 2011. His dupstep-influenced, bass-heavy, minimal soul has lots of empty spaces but certainly packs a punch. I just felt he would have been better suited to an indoor arena where his sparse sounds would have less chance of escaping into the open air. However, the snapping electronic drums and sparse keyboards and piano really had the onlooking crowd, myself included, entranced. A very interesting prospect, this one.

The National are consistently brilliant and they didn’t fail to deliver another awe-inspiring show here. From the first notes of ‘Start a War’, the National owned the Llevant stage. Highlights included ‘Fake Empire’, ‘England’ and ‘Anyone’s Ghost’ but Sufjan Stevens coming onstage to join the band for ‘Afraid of Everyone’ and later again for ‘Terrible Love’ would have been enough for even the most hardened of hipster’s heart to skip a beat. Truly magical fare, although don’t expect Sufjan to be joining them onstage again for Oxegen in July!

The majestic Low completely filled the ATP stage later, a sight to behold when full as its all encompassing lay-out gives it a real communal feel like a weirdly designed amphitheatre. Low specialise in lush, beautifully arranged, soft rock and gave a spine-tingling performance to an appreciative crowd drawing mostly from their brilliant new album C’mon. It was easy listening at its best and a really beautiful experience.

Thus ended another frenetic evening of music where I somehow contrived to miss (audible sigh) Pulp, Battles, Simian Mobile Disco, Carte Blanche and Field Music amongst others.

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