Hydro Connect Festival 2008

I’m back in Sydney now after a long and thoroughly enjoyable month of travel throughout August. I am not too sure what is going on with the weather at the moment, but the London-like conditions in Sydney are quite frankly unacceptable.

One of the things that I did manage to get along to during August was the Hydro Connect Festival, which was held over the last weekend of the month at Inveraray in Western Scotland. The weather there was not much chop either, but to be honest the rain did not really ensue during the performances of most of the headline acts, so all was well that ended well. Despite gumboots becoming obligatory by the second day of the festival due to the rain and 20,000 people tromping across the grounds, it was certainly the best festival I have ever had the pleasure of attending.

The festival highlights for me were performances from Mercury Rev, Bloc Party and the inimitable Sigur Ros, whose bombast knows no equal. I also managed to catch Ladytron, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Noah & The Whale, the Manic Street Preachers, Gomez, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Spiritualised, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Grinderman, Goldfrapp, Elbow and Franz Ferdinand over the course of the long weekend. Needless to say, it was great!

Some pictures below:

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Had never seen Malkmus before live so this was a treat. They played a solid set, although nothing I was familiar with. I have his self-titled album, but none of his albums recorded with the Jicks.



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Mercury Rev closed out the Friday night of the festival for us and they were excellent, as usual. The band really has a flair for theatrics and know how to make an impact visually and sonically live.



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Nick Cave heads Grinderman, his “rock” outfit with which he has recorded an album and is in the midst of recording a second. Warren Ellis was free to cut sick to an even greater extent than usual as Nick;s right-hand man, and the band had the audience in thrall.



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Bloc Party closed out Saturday night and were awesome – probably the pick of the festival for me. All the band’s best tracks were played along with two encores (the second quite unexpected), and track Flux off A Weekend In The City was accompanied by a very cool laser show.



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Sigur Ros as always put on a great show on Sunday night before the headliners – including a horn section in Scottish apparel.



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Sigur Ros.



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Franz Ferdinand closed out the night and the festival with a pretty tight set. They probably suffered a bit by comparison with Sigur Ros’ immediately preceding epic set, but of course the predominantly Scottish crowd went nuts. A number of tracks from the band’s forthcoming third album were given a run, getting something of a mixed reception.