Splendour In The Grass went back to Byron, and we were there. These are the sets our reviewers can’t stop raving about…
DZ Deathrays set up their own equipment before taking the stage, usually the music industry's tell that the band is yet to make it big. Ironic really, seeing as opening track ‘Cops/Capacity’ had the thousands of punters present behaving like they'd been listening to DZ since their mothers stopped breastfeeding them. The entirety of debut album 'Bloodstreams' pelted from Shane Parson's tormented respiratory system harder than the torrential rain that fell throughout the set. Kind of like Richard Kingsmill's tears.
James Mercer brings The Shins on stage and you realise that every other band you've seen was merely a sound check. It was the band's first opportunity to road test new album 'Port of Morrow', and to Mercer's delight the market testing delivered some pleasing results. The polish that we have come to expect from this outfit was duly applied to renditions of 'Simple Song' and 'The Rifle's Spiral', with 'Australia' also getting a healthy dosage of Mr Sheen.
A question on everyone's lips had been whether Jack White could match the hype that had followed him on the road to Splendour - even for someone like Jack White, tall tales had been told. Yet as his band emerged to play 'Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground', those lucky enough to have spines immediately felt chills creeping up them. Regardless of your opinion of White's solo album 'Blunderbus', seeing the man perform over a decade's worth of material from a music empire spanning The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather is the equivalent of an auditory pilgrimage. Jack White concluded the set with 'Seven Nation Army', a song that 15,000 people continued to chant long after he'd left the premises.
Playing the penultimate slot on Friday, At the Drive-In were perhaps worthy of closing the night – given how many people seemed to have come solely to see them perform their reunion show. Although the reasons behind why they reformed after so many years may be varied (from re-patching their friendship to money), the band nonetheless put on a searing performance once they hit the stage. Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Jim Ward were especially animated from their opening rendition of ‘Arc Arsenal’ right through to their closing track and success ‘One Armed Scissor’.
Also on a reunion tour of sorts (having gone on a break while Kele Okereke dabbled with electronica), Bloc Party looked to be having a great time on stage. Mixing old crowd favourites and moving through their subsequent albums to include the opening cuts from their new album, ‘Four’, it felt like a celebration for both the crowd and the band.
Even in the midst of winter, The Beautiful Girls warmed the crowd with their smooth, laidback sounds of summer. Favourites on the festival circuit, they were well within their element at Splendour. The tent packed to the brim with love as front man Mat McHugh introduced his fellow band mates through song. “This is our third Splendour and by far the best,” he announced to the crowd. For many, it will be the last gig they see the band perform under The Beautiful Girls name.
As the end of another Splendour bender crept closer it was time to prolong the sadness once more and bring on a third wind as headline act The Smashing Pumpkins took the stage. Five years on since their reformation, and with another album under their belt, the band was in fine form to say the least. They covered a range of older favourites, B-sides, and tracks off their latest offering ‘Oceania’.
Corgan performed a customarily epic guitar solo during ‘Ava Adore’; even during slower songs, they stayed engaged with the audience and maintained a gripping intensity in classic Pumpkins style. Corgan asked the audience if they were feeling alright and after a cheered response he replied, “Don’t fucking lie to me, you’re tired!”
If Corgan is looking to usher in a new era of The Smashing Pumpkins then, judging by Sunday night’s Splendour performance, he’s doing just that. Brace yourselves as the revolution may just be starting all over again.