The 2nd Chapter of All Together Now took place once again on the grounds of the stunning Curraghmore House in Portlaw, County Waterford, Ireland. An all star lineup featuring The National, Patti Smith, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, and many more gave stunning performances across several stages over the course of this three day event. From the comedy tents to the children’s entertainment tents and everything in between, the family orientated festival offered a little for everyone, but of course the music came out on top after all was said and done.
Friday night featured two heavy hitters for us in the shape of Fontaines DC from Dublin and King Kong Company from Waterford. Fontaines DC fronted by Grian Chatten released a sensational punk album just a few short weeks ago. Dogrel has been met with critical acclaim and the band have soared into the limelight with several festival appearances, as well as extensive tours on the back of the popularity of the record. The band blasted through tracks from the album at break neck speed to an eager audience who were happy to finally make it to the grounds after some awful traffic backups. Those woes were soon forgotten as a frenzied crowd gave as much as the band did through this hour long set. Fantastic stuff.
King Kong Company cranked the volume up to 11 with their late night set on the Something Kind Of Wonderful Stage. The band who are based in Waterford drew the largest crowd we saw at this stage all weekend, and like their comrades the Fontaines a couple of hours earlier they came out full throttle with what can only be described as the ultimate show. Lasers, projectors, robots, special guests, it had it all. This is a dance party with the works thrown in to keep the temperature at boiling point. During the breakdowns, drummer and lead vocalist Mark Graham gets stuck in with the crowd to ensure everyone is on their toes. Susan O Neill stepped in and out on vocal duties for a couple of songs and she completely made this gig her own. Phenomenal performances all round. Hugely entertaining.
Saturday afternoon featured a very special collaboration piece between Singer/Songwriter David Keenan and Scottish writer David Keenan. These two amazing talents swapped stories and ideas as well as short performances in front of a large crowd in the All Curious Minds tent. There was just enough time to head back up to the Something Kind Of Wonderful Stage to catch Lisa Hannigan & Stargaze. Lisa never fails to impress and with Stargaze (an Amsterdam-Berlin Collective of musicians) we were drawn deep into some beautiful sounds and ideas from this large orchestral setup. Lisa alone is a standout of epic proportions, but this collaboration really hits the sweet spot.
Later into the evening over on the Main Stage, with a little light rain to keep everyone moving, Father John Misty with his band gave a beautiful performance. Opening with “Hangout at the Gallows” and moving on from there through “Total Entertainment Forever” and “Chateau #4” Tillman was solid as expected and left us with “I love you, Honeybear” which was a huge crowd pleaser. This performance paved the way for Saturday night headliner Patti Smith.
Patti took the stage and grabbed her phone from her pocket to take a quick photo of the huge crowd that have braved the rain to get a piece of what this poet had to offer. Her set opened with “Wing” from her record Gone Again and from there Patti brought us down a journey that only she could take us. A phenomenal cover of Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning” was a highlight, as well as “Dancing Barefoot” and later again another cover, this time of Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush.” Smith is the definitive icon. When she speaks, people listen, and so they should, because she always has something real to say.
Sunday afternoon was marred by horrific weather conditions. Ireland is known for its four seasons in one day, but the rain was the star of the show from early afternoon into late evening. We settled in at the All Curious Minds tent for a masterclass performance by Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames, The Swell Season, and much more). Colm’s violin can tell a story like none other. With haunting twists and turns its one of those situations where you close your eyes, enter his dreamland, and let the music lead the way. A stunning performance which was being recorded for RTE (Irish National Television). Following Colm’s set DJ John Kelly interviewed Bryce Dressner from The National about his writing processes. An interesting talk which covered Dressner’s classical training and background and how it translates across to the rock band that is The National. The interview will air on Lyricfm in the near future. Special musical guest Junior Brother played a couple of songs during this segment.
Back on the Something Kind Of Wonderful Stage Icelandic maestro Olafur Arnalds started his set just as the showers were easing up only to find that water was leaking in on his equipment. But in a bid to not let the gig go he literally said “Fuck it, it’s only synths” and he took to the stage with his band for the most intricate and delicate set of the weekend. Pure ambience and shoe gaze from the perfectionist that drew yet another huge crowd. Right opposite John Grant took to the main stage and did a rain-away dance to get the punters back out onto the hill in preparation for the main later in the evening. John is in a league of his own and with his band at full steam we partied hard as the moon made an appearance and the skies began to finally clear.
As the weekend wound down there were a few more performances of notoriety. Supergroup; The Good, The Bad & The Queen were a band that we had high expectations for. The group comprising of Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon, Simon Tong, and Tony Allen were nothing short of sensational. Albarn has this incredible ability to make something out of nothing and turn it into gold. He commanded the stage and when he wasn’t swaying off the speakers into the crowd he parked himself behind the piano and held down the fort for this act that borderlines theater. It’s a good old knees up and Albarn lapped up the tightly packed crowd hanging on every word he said.
Matt Berninger of The National took to the stage with a pint of beer in his hand, as he paced around the stage for a few minutes he finally made his way to the mic where he just for a moment asked to speak candidly with the audience. Over the course of the previous 24 hours there had been two mass shootings in the US and Berninger wanted to show his respect for those lives lost as well as express his hopes for a better future for gun laws. Praising the Irish for the abortion vote that took place a few years ago which gave women the right to decide, Berninger wrapped it up with raising his glass to a brighter future for all. “You Had Your Soul With You” opened the show and it was clear that The National were ready to take this weekend home. Joined by a trio of female singers (one of which was Lisa Hannigan) the band’s 90 minute set featured the hits as well as songs from their brand new album I Am Easy To Find. Highlights included “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Fake Empire” and “Mister November.” A fantastic end to a great weekend of music.
The backdrop for this festival is stunning and of course nothing can be done about the weather. This as mentioned, was only the second year that All Together Now has ran and of course there are some kinks to iron out. Traffic management on Friday was a big issue for such large volumes of people traveling on these country roads. The campgrounds appeared to be as best kept as possible considering the conditions and were in close proximity to the festival grounds. Food and drink vendors were plentiful and anything we sampled was great quality at reasonable festival prices. Staff and security were very friendly and helpful, all in all very cool to experience this festival in its infancy with the hopes of seeing it thrive over the next few years.
Article: Anthony Mulcahy