|End of the Road - Day 2|
|Dave at work behind the counter of The Chai Shop Organic|
Having toured as Feist's backing singers for the past year, Molly, Alexandra and Amelia forewarn that they may be slightly rusty with this being only their second Mountain Man show in twelve months but the next forty five minutes or so make light of those precautionary words. One wonder concerning the threesome's live shows is - with the majority of their tracks only coming in at two minutes long - how they will manage fill an entire set? Charming tales of violent diarrhoea (due to a bout of The Sultans Revenge picked up in Istanbul), well executed examples of choreography employed during their stint with the aforementioned Feist and similar enthralling stories that make you want to simply pick the three up and put them in your knapsack kick that doubt firmly into touch. When not chatting, the a-capella vivid vocal sting of 'Honeybee', the winding soul-cleansing wash of 'The River Song' and crowd favourite (and opening track of 2010's much lauded debut record Made The Harbor) 'Buffalo' all combine to create the perfect afternoon atmosphere on the now legendary Garden Stage.
|Mountain Man co. of EG Photography|
|Hannah Cohen & compadre Josh|
From joy at The Woods to heartbreak in The Garden, an early blow was struck with the news that Peter Broderick would not be making this year's festival as planned. Oh well...
Led by the spangly, silvery jacketed Tessa Murray, London's Still Corners are deftly delivering a loaded case of dream-pop to onlookers in The Big Top. Hearing those booming bass beats and whispered words of 'Cuckoo' live is a real highlight of the day.
|Lanterns on the Lake|
A quick 360 degree tour of the main arena allows me to take in a rousing rendition of 'Highway Blues' from legendary folkie Roy Harper on the Woods Stage before spinning off for a sort-but-sweet taste of John Grant's marvellous brain and voice on the Garden Stage. And I'm back at The Big Top for Swedish duo I Break Horses scintillating set, Maria Lindén looking sensational as she strides out, magical cape wrapped around her shoulders similar to the spell she and her partner in crime Fredrik Balck are about to cast on all in attendance.
The dramatically extended foggy intro to slowburner 'Hearts' throbs from the P.A., a power and beat that has been absent in north Dorset since the gates opened on Thursday afternoon, Lindén's glistening vocal descending upon the crowd like a melodic mist, at times indistinguishable from the wall of sound being created behind her, otherwise invading eardrums like a spectral wisp. With the combination of dry ice and fantasy world garb, the stunning face of I Break Horses looms over the crowd like an Ice Queen from another land, a strength that booms from must-grab record Hearts. When the twinkling intro to 'Winter Beats' sparkles, and that reverb-roasted vocal flames into life it's clear we have another festival highlight on our hands. High hopes were held ahead of this show, Lindén and Balck certainly do not disappoint.
One aspect of End of the Road one must get used to is the serious amount of travelling involved. Small distances yes but it's constant. Before the dry ice even has a chance to settle in The Big Top, the inimitable Warren Ellis (and there truly is no one alive like this man) and Dirty Three are carving badger shaped sound-holes from The Wood Stage. Incendiary is a word only suitable for some but at times you could swear smoke is emanating from the Bad Seeds' violin his audio assault is so violent. Jim White's brooding - yet at times equally maniacal - beats combine with Mick Turner's relative rhythmical sanity to call forth the prettiest apocalypse imaginable. Listen to the albums and the classically-trained discipline and restraint shimmer fantastically to create timeless records but live this dirty three roll in the mud, shout from the mountain, swing from the treetops...you name it, pure visceral carnage. In a good way! Ellis' double-edged introduction to the soul-shifting magnificence of 'Everything's Fucked' shows the intended light quickly swallowed by the lurking darkness that lies within every note of the Australian group's music:
"Our attempt to write a hit single...trying to write songs for the kids to sit around the campfire and play on their acoustic guitars but it just didn't work out for some reason. A song about finding yourself in a hole, deciding to decorate it and you hang around for twenty years. It's about as good as it's going to get. You realise that's why everyone told you not to go down there because it is actually...great."
|The Low Anthem with 'Wendy' for the last time|
Before that though an intelligent mix of compositions pulled from everlasting long-players Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (2009) Smart Flesh (2011) exhibit a growing - and impressive - back catalogue. From the splaying sounds of 'To The Ghosts Who Write History Books' (starring 'Wendy''s p.o.) and 'Smart Flesh' to the murkier beat of 'Ghost Woman Blues', long time favourite 'Charlie Darwin' B-side 'Sally Where Did You Get Your Liquour From' and the haunting multiple-harmony 'Charlie Darwin' itself. Strobe lights are not common at Low Anthem shows but the guest appearance by 'Mr. Moth Machine', a glowing, twisting mushroom shaped tower that accompanies a new track that sees Ben Knox Miller and co. swirl off into more psychadelic territory. As with most The Low Anthem shows, Daniel Lefkowitz's heart-wrencher 'This God Damn House' closes the set.
As the night starts to edge to a close, Beach House take complete advantage of the fading light with an impressive light show backdropping 21st century dream-pop royalty. It takes something special to shine on the relatively mammoth Woods Stage but the shoulder-swaying, shoegaze bliss of 'Myth', 'Used To Be', 'Norway' and more defy meteorology, raining rainbows in a cloudless sky.
And so to Midlake who take a more subtle approach to their headline slot on the Garden Stage, enchanting ears with strolling soulsearchers such as 'Van Occupanther' and the simply awesome 'Roscoe'. The Bella Union family are out in supportive force too with long-time pal John Grant and big boss/head-honcho himself Simon Raymonde seated front and centre to see out the day's carefully curated, masterfully masterminded festivities. Day two (or official day one) down and End of the Road 2012 is already glistening like the diamond it is.
Saturday's review to come soon...
For those who missed Thursday's review click here.
- End of the Road 2012 took place in Larmer Tree Gardens from 30th August to the 2nd September
- Early bird tickets for 2013 are now on sale
- Visit www.endoftheroadfestival.com for more details
- For more photos see EG Photography