rare sparks fly when County Mayo rocks with Westport

Westport Festival of Music & Food 2013 review

published: Mon 8th Jul 2013

The Cabin Collective

Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th June 2013
Westport House, Quay Road, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland MAP
130 euros for 2 days, including camping
last updated: Thu 20th Jun 2013

"What’s the clash like?"

Back when Joe Strummer lived by the river, it was very clear what that meant.  In 2013, as festival season kicks off in earnest, the question takes on another hue. ‘What am I going to see?’ is replaced by ‘what am I going to miss?’

This was definitely the case on Sunday, 30th June, the second day of the Westport Festival of Music & Food. Earlier in the day, The Cabin Collective made their debut in County Mayo. Boasting three frontmen – Keith Mullins, Noelie McDonnell and The Sawdoctors' Leo Moran – this 9 piece looked like they were having a ball. Judging by the gusto of the sing-along, the crowd were too.

The Róisín Dubh stage was making its first – but, one would hope, not its last – appearance at Westport. Curated by the Galway city venue, it boasted some emerging and established Irish indie talent. The Depravations set was elegantly shambolic, but their songs have an undeniable charm. Seek them out.

Then it was back to the Main Stage to catch Martha Wainwright. Playing solo in front of a large crowd, Wainwright’s inimitable voice was to the fore. The Brooklyn-based singer acknowledged her folk royalty background while showcasing songs that Loudon and Kate would be proud of.

The day’s first mass hands-in-the air moment came when Damien Dempsey and his band played a blistering set at the Marquee Stage. The hardcore troubadour was in fine voice, but a special mention must be given to Damo's drummer. A flurry of percussion and singing, he was a suitable compliment to Dempsey’s personable, uplifting showmanship. And, in a week when we were besieged by the Anglo tapes, Busting Out Of  Here took on a new poignancy. Brilliant stuff.

Going back out into the daylight, it was time to wander across the bridge to the Róisín Dubh stage. Hailing from Dublin, Squarehead were in sensational form. This was jump around garage pop, with bassist Ian leading the way. They make quite a racket for a three piece, which is absolutely as it should be.

And here comes the clash...

Shortly after Delorentos took to the Róisín stage, a plucky young upstart called Elvis Costello was due on the Main Stage. But the crowd that wedged into the courtyard to see the Dublin four piece weren’t disappointed. Buoyed by their Choice Prize win, Delorentos put on a hell of a show.

This writer, however, skedaddled over to the Main Stage to see Elvis and The Imposters. Initially, the volume seemed a little low, though it improved as the set went on. But it’s time for some fan-boy honesty, folks – there are not many current bands that I get as giddy about as Delorentos. So it was back to the Róisín for the rest of their stage – which was sublime. They finished with Did We Ever Really Try? ­– surely a rhetorical question after such a relentless set.

Meanwhile, back on the Main Stage (I move fast, folks!) Elvis Costello was kicking out the hits. Given an airing were I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea, Watching The Detectives and a truly amazing What’s So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding. As Costello and his band left the stage, the sky over Westport House lit up with fireworks.

So, what was the clash like at Westport? Heartbreaking, but brilliant – and whatever your choice, you saw some rare sparks flying.


review by: Jimi McDonnell

photos by: Liam Carroll

Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th June 2013
Westport House, Quay Road, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland MAP
130 euros for 2 days, including camping
last updated: Thu 20th Jun 2013


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