Home-town heroes Fontaines DC overshadowed the international stars at Forbidden Fruit, writes Ed Power
The rain mysteriously vanished as Luke Kelly’s stentorian words chimed out over Kilmainham. The Liffey bard was reciting For What Died the Sons of Róisín?, a spoken word hymnal wreathed in the wit and grime of a Dublin long-since swallowed by the mists of history.
Such was the manner in which Fontaines DC introduced themselves on the final day of Forbidden Fruit. Having joined the bill only after First Aid Kit were forced to cancel, the Dublin five piece put in a show-stealing performance. With Kelly’s voice falling still over the speakers, their guitars struck up an uneasy cacophony and they plunged into wistful punk rattle of Hurricane Laughter.
“I was towelled up to the waist while you were fresh from the confession/The angry streets they twisted up and billowed with the laughter,” chanted frontman Grian Chatten. He prowled and growled, wearing an oversized jumper and his dad’s trousers. Anyone wondering what The Fall would sound like fronted by Brendan Behan will have had their answer.
At the first big Irish outdoor show Fontaines DC were stunning. Of course it helped that the downpour had temporarily departed. It had earlier overshadowed the magnificent Julien Baker, whose wide-screen melancholy nonetheless took flight across the grey June skies.
And it would return just time for Spiritualised, who were helpfully installed in a tent. With singer Jason Pierce seated and rocking earnestly and a horn section blasting their lungs out it was a bone-shaking return by the psychedelic veteran. It was certainly in contrast to the Irish debut, earlier under the same big top, of languid Australia Ry X, whose tinkling electro-indie was accentuated by his huge hat and Gandalf robes.
Forbidden Fruit is Ireland’s longest-running urban festival and it continues to stay ahead of the competition thanks to diligent programming. Saturday night gave the main stage to leftfield rappers Earl Sweatshirt and Danny Brown and grime superstar Skepta. Under the tent-poles meanwhile, Jon Hopkins delivered a masterful selection of thinking person’s electronica.
Sunday, for its part, was dominated by big-league DJs Paul Kalkbrenner and Laurent Garnier. Those in search of more subtle delights will have flocked to the main stage and to a winning curtain-closing slot by minimalist producer Mura Masa and vocalist Fliss.
Twenty-four hours later, the crowd was notably older and though the energy was just as palpable as headliners Elbow followed Fontaines DC and blazed through a set of hug-a-stranger singalongs. As always, it was a big-hearted turn from Guy Garvey and bandmates, though the suspicion lingered that Fontaines DC were the weekend’s true champions.