Dirty Three are the hit of day three of Optimus Primavera Sound

Optimus Primavera Sound 2012 review

published: Mon 18th Jun 2012

Dirty Three

Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Parque Da Cidade, Porto, Portugal, Portugal
75 euros
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Wed 9th May 2012

It's raining today, a steady drizzle, and the Optimus branded macs are being worn by all those in the queue who have them. This would be the exceptionally long snaking queue for tickets to Jeff Mangum at Casa da Musica tomorrow. He has two shows tomorrow, but everyone wants the earlier solo show to give them the evening free to see other bands at Hard Club in the evening. The information point is obviously struggling to cope with demand, and at this point you begin to wonder why they haven't integrated in performances off the main site into the initial ticket buying process. Everyone in the queue has time to ponder similarly deep thoughts.

First band in the overpopulated and dryer than outside shed is Veronica Falls. They don't seem fazed by having as big a crowd to this, which is to their credit. They run through their twee indie pop, and get a fairly good response. Most of the people here, especially at the back, are just here to get out of the rain. But why not applaud, just to keep your hands warm? On their last number, they tease us with the intro to their Eurythmics cover, 'Thorn In My side', but we get one of theirs instead. Such is life.

Spiritualized
Spiritualized are excellent on the bigger stage, as usual. Jason Pierce's cry of 'Lord, Let it rain on me, Let it all come down' is not shared by those on the uncovered side of the barrier. Their spaced-out gospel rock would work in most places, but here seems particularly effective.

After they finish, we wait for Death Cab For Cutie to play, but the stage is waterlogged. There is no equipment on the stage, and the crowd is only to be entertained by a man climbing the stage rigging in order to attach a fuller backing to the stage in order to make it more rain proof. They succeed in fixing the stage, but no equipment is wrenched from warm dry cases. The band are not willing to play, having to catch a flight later in the afternoon. There are jeers and whistles from the crowd who have watched stage hands work hard and waited patiently.

A couple of days later, the band offer up an apologetic excuse while mumbling about adverse weather conditions. From a Seattle based band, this doesn't really wash; more likely they took a look at a wet stage at a small European festival and baulked, raised some health and safety concern and left the rest to their management. A little resolve and a short set would've meant more to their fans here.

The Afghan Whigs
Luckily The Afghan Whigs are on hand shortly with their dark tales of desperate love, and Death Cab are forgotten. They reach back through the years to Gentlemen, and tracks from Black Love and 1965 get an airing too. Greg Dulli doesn't speak much, but then again, he doesn't really need to. The songs do all the talking, and the band pushing them forward are in rare form. Snatches of Prince songs make their way into the set, and they close with the outro to 'Purple Rain'. They're epic, grandiose and nearly the hit of the day.

That honour is bestowed upon the Dirty Three, regularly lauded as one of the best live bands in the world thanks to their furious violin-led post rock. In terms of performance, no-one works harder than their man main Warren Ellis. He is an unquenchable fire, an bundle of kinetic energy, a devastatingly irresistible force. By right that should be where the night ends, in rapture of their work.

Instead we see a huge mass of bodies and Bjork replacementsKings Of Convenience closing their show on one of the big stages not long afterwards. On the front row I swear I can see a man leafing through an Ikea catalogue with his partner. Even if they sell a similar amount of records, they're obviously not in the same class as Bjork.

Then again, neither are St Etienne, who look a bit bedraggled as they lurch from song to song long after midnight. Their fans are thinning out as their set finishes late, and we don't stick around for The xx. Luckily for us, the late night buses laid on by the festival run on schedule.

Dirty Three
review by: Thomas Perry

photos by: Thomas Perry

Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th June 2012
Parque Da Cidade, Porto, Portugal, Portugal
75 euros
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Wed 9th May 2012


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