Florence & Snow Patrol Close Out Phoenix Park

It was a mixed weekend in Phoenix Park for this mini festival MCD threw together. Mixed in publicity, music and reception. But all in all it was three days of fantastic music for every shape and size, and though it was marred by the mindless and senseless acts of a minority, for those like myself who actually had some interest in the music it was a great weekend.

The final day of the Park Fest was a double headliner of Florence + The Machine and Snow Patrol, plus Temper Trap and a late addition in Bressie. First off the mark I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how good a show Temper Trap could put on. They have a great energy on stage coupled with good upbeat tracks and it was a pity that they couldn’t grab the attention of more of the crowd. Their big hit of course, Sweet Disposition, closed their set and injected a good dose of spirit into the muddied and wet crowd.

Ah yes, the mud. Before elaborating any further on the main acts, the condition of the park has to be addressed unfortunately. MCD have many calling for their heads after what seems to have been a total lack of foresight when organising these gigs. Most  of these calls are in relation to the acts of violence that occurred on the Saturday, but the sheer conditions people were forced to inhabit for 6+ hours were absolutely third world. There was speculation after the destruction from the Swedish House Mafia gig that the ground would be lined more adequately but unfortunately all that remained was the bare sparce dressing of the ground with plastic boarding which had sunk by about the midway point. The rest of the uncovered areas were horrendous and based on the odour, none too hygienic. Mud baths these were not. Nobody expects and outdoor gig to be clean and polished, least of all me, but this was worse than even  any Oxygen festival I have attended where it would rain non stop for days at a time. There was simply no effort made by the organisers and no amount of money received by the OPW could be worth the damage the Park has now suffered.

On then to the star turn of the night that was Florence + The Machine. Florence Welch is musical Marmite to many, a lot of people turning away at her outgoing, loving outbursts for her fans when performing live and her slightly wacky persona. Personally, I’ve never had much opinion either way but I have to say that on the day that was in it, given the madness that had come before, it did feel good to be back in that same spot hearing messages of all kinds of lollipops and happiness come from the stage. It’s a weird one, I’m fully confident that I may have found her stage play annoying under different circumstances but on the day, it was great and set a great mood in the crowd. Highlights of her set were the massive reaction from the crowd to the single note drone intro of “Shake It Off” and the closer “No Light, No Light” bringing a massive close to the set, but the Ceremonials-heavy setlist didn’t leave room for her cover of “You’ve Got The Love” which was a personal loss for myself as I had hoped to hear it. No biggie though, still a fantastic performer and a great first half to the show.

Then came an act that, to be honest, I had much higher expectations of. I had not seen Snow Patrol since 2004 at Oxegen and the following summer supporting U2. At that point they were still breaking through and they played with a genuine sincerity at showing how much they appreciated where they were. What worried me was whether or not they still had that too them. While its true though that Gary Lightbody has maybe got a little Bono-esque in his stage persona and the band’s reliability on power ballads wears a little thin, they still do commit themselves to putting on a great live show. The opener of “Eyes Open” was perfectly chosen, being an ideal “we mean business” type of track. Moving on then they treated us to a fantastic, as always, rendition of “Run” and a beautifully subtle version of “Set The Fire To The Third Bar” featuring Maria Doyle Kennedy, a big surprise given how many like myself would have simply assumed Florence Welch was the obvious choice for the track. The highlight of the night though, and contender for highlight of the weekend, was the anthemic “Chasing Cars”. It was a no brainer assumption this would bring the house down, but I could have never imagined how powerful this track becomes live. With just a few seconds of the guitar intro, the entire crowd launched into the verse and Lightbody was no longer needed. It wasn’t until the final chorus that I can remember actually hearing him sing it, and even that was just barely above the crowd. It was a fantastic moment and capped of the weekend fantastically, so much so that the remainder of their set fell slightly flat if I’m being honest. They couldn’t do better than themselves, not a bad complaint I suppose.

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