Homefires at Field Day 2008
Across the way at a sodden Field Day 2008 myriad delights abound; hustled close to the Adem-curated Homefires stage however, DiS braves umbrellas and rainfall to catch three fine performances...
“It’s was Mike’s birthday yesterday,” intones Becky Jacobs shortly into the band’s mid-afternoon set, by way of apology for some of the band’s peaky appearance (and feasibly an extended line-check before they appear in full). It matters not; in between swigs from a can of 1664 Mike Lindsay describes the set “the best hangover cure ever” – indeed the percussion-heavy folk styling Tunng deal in so well animates an otherwise bedraggled crowd, their step growing surer with every tune. Watching the front line combine on the lead vocal is a joy, Jacobs sashaying with evident delight through an appositely tender ‘Jenny Again’ (“here’s a song about murdering someone so you can run away with their girlfriend”), fine ‘Bricks’ and stirring ‘Bullets’ which, particularly in its clattering final third, makes for an irresistible closer.
Hustled close to the stage and blessing the day – Wednesday – he shelled £74.99 on a brand spanking new waterproof, this critic awaits his first encounter with Denmark’s celebrated… how to describe? Denmark’s celebrated, that’ll do. Adorned in white and barely fitting on stage (for the Efterklang live show is an expanded beast), each constituent part runs smooth, and though obscured – for this critic – by umbrellas and relentless, slanting rainfall, it’s possible to witness violin, keys, trombone, trumpet, and guitar gel with instinctive precision. The resultant effect is one majestic, exultant – transcendent, even: the band profusely thanking its damp audience for sticking with them. Really, sweet Danes: the pleasure was all ours. Some clarity on a bizarre, homemade percussive tool (a marrow, my friend dubiously ascertains) that eventually found its way into the hands of one lucky crowd member would be nice though...
Some years ago I witnessed Fionn Regan (pictured) sit early on the bill of a wholly rejuvenating first Green Man Festival (first for me, that is, as I donned an Oxfam tabard and swapped the drudgery of a multinational energy firm’s business accounts sector for the mist-enshrouded Brecon Beacons). With scant little else apart from this review to go on, ‘mesmerised’ sounds about right, and so minus a relatively disappointing Cardiff showing in the interim, seeing him headline a festival stage brings about a welcome notion of something coming full-circle, albeit not without a faintly stirring sense of nostalgia.
But forget all that for now, for Regan plays with gusto and spirit this evening, atop an impeccably assembled and finely compèred Homefires bill that’s seen eschewal of many notable delights elsewhere. A solo beginning finds him relay ‘Hey Rabbit’ and ‘The Underwood Typewriter’ to superlative ends, bass and drums eventually materialising on a fine ‘Hunters Map’. New material aired this evening hints a darker direction may lie in store “I’ve a violent demeanour / So tie me to a chair”; brawnier, perhaps – though lacking none of the assured melodic poise this Irishman made his name on.
A heart-wrenching ‘Put A Penny In The Slot’ cements the notion that Regan has posited at least one moment of sweet genius in his career thus far – a real lump-in-throat moment, lyrics crystal clear and modified in accordance with the occasion (“At night-time I’d lie / In Victoria Park”). Curtailed by a strict curfew it may be, the set nevertheless ends on a note no less magical: for ‘Be Good Or Be Gone’, Regan moves centre-stage sans microphone, letting the crowd take its central imploration and imbue on it a wonderful, communal spirit.
Further Field Day 2008 coverage here.
Photograph: Lucy Johnston