We had a lovely spot to watch Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill seated on the great roots of a tree at the side of the stage. Its worth being up close to these men as they play, because they really play together. The softly spoken Martin Hayes is a fiddle player of the highest calibre with a rich warm and even tone and incredible deftness of touch. As Hayes leads the duo, Cahill on guitar and mandolin studies him intently, following every subtle nuance of variation as if he is reading his mind, which of course is exactly what he is doing. The music is very strongly informed by the Irish folk tradition but not bound by it.
We were in the mood to wander last night, and caught half of a number of sets and so we arrived at Sarah Blando, sorry Blasko towards the end of hers. She does have a lovely gentle voice, but for me the songwriting was unimaginative and, well, bland.
One huge, delicous and even fairly cheap plate of curry later, we arrived at a seated performance by Black Grace a dance company heavily influenced by the style of movement of indigenous Pacific peoples. The native sounding choral music for the first couple of pieces sounded great but we were too far back and couldnt see the stage. By the time we got through to the seated area they were dancing to live versions of some sappy early 60’s guitar pop which seemed like an odd choice and with my limited experience of the art form, I wasnt able to appreciate it much. The last piece I got into more, partly because the music was so much better – some dramatic orchestral Bach – and I took something from the way the choreographer used images from the rough and tumble backyard games of his youth to produce something that was graceful and utilised the strength and dexterity of the performers to work together, rather than against each other.
Partly in tribute to the performance by Dan Wilkins in our debut Project X event which first introduced me to the kora (an African harp), we caught some of Toumani Diabates Symmetric Orchestra on the main stage. I enjoyed the kora solos when they came and the drum solos one big guy who really stood out when he had his moment in the spotlight.
Then to something more along the lines of what we are used to at festivals – a DJ Nickodemus – playing nice blend of word influenced tunes. The set never really took off, but then thats not really the vibe of the festival which has mostly been pretty mellow so far even at its liveliest. Lovely tho to be dancing at nearly midnight – outside amongst trees – still warm in a tee-shirt.
Lastly to the Ethiopian and Middle Eastern influenced Idan Raichel Project who despite some cool instrumentation and good moments was far too close to Euro-pop for my liking