Mud. Mud everywhere. Day two of All Together Now, at Curraghmore House, Co Waterford, and the site is struggling after the deluge of the first night – and there’s a yellow weather warning for strong winds as we reluctantly open our tents on Saturday morning. The weather can make or break a festival – and the fear of falling face-first into the muck is very real. The heavy rain had been predicted so it’s surprising that no woodchip or covers are utilised. It’s good training for Glastonbury, says one person, before explaining the different types of ‘festival mud’.
But ultimately we get over it, or try to, at least – the excitement at seeing the reformed, original lineup of Sugababes wins out. Mutya, Siobhán, and Keisha supported Westlife at the Aviva Stadium last year; here they’re one of the main attractions. It helps that the sun shines throughout their hour-long set as they get through all their number-one hits and bangers over the course of an hour. Keisha is 4% Irish, Siobhán met her Irish family on her mum’s side on this trip for the first time in ages, and Mutya’s mum is Irish, they announce early on. Talk about getting the crowd on your side – as if they needed it.
While the sound isn’t great – and Sugababes aren’t the only band hit by this issue across the weekend; English indie band Black Country New Road are 20 minutes late starting as they try to get their soundcheck right – and Siobhán is just about loud enough, there’s a real joy in the crowd at their return. They channel Westlife by taking to high stools for Ugly and then finish with the triumvirate of Push the Button, Round Round, and About You Now.
Next on the main stage on Saturday night are Villagers, making their only appearance of the year as they take a break from making their sixth album. How to distil a perfect festival moment? It’s the sun somehow coming out through the dark clouds and beaming down on Conor O’Brien during a gorgeous version of The First Day. There’s no new songs but as is O’Brien’s wont, their old favourites get some lovely reworkings to make them sound like new, while they’re the latest to pay tribute to the late Sinéad O’Connor with a stirring cover of Nothing Compares 2 U.
Earlier in the day, Lisa O’Neill, with that powerful, piercing voice of hers, plays Black Boys on Mopeds, while the festival mainstay Singalong Social helps get the crowd riled up, shouting along to Nothing Compares and Mandinka. We’re getting it all out of our system.
Later, Caribou and Jamie xx seek to blow people’s eyes with a visual feast, while techno pioneer Robert Hood is a big draw at the Arcadia Bug, a 360-degree fiery blast of the senses.
With drag shows to keep you entertained while you queue for pizza, bloody marys while you take in food talks at Grub Circus, and bumper cars and other carnival rides to help get the juices flowing, we almost forget about the mud. Almost.
Sunday brings Iggy Pop for a rare show on Irish soil, Max Richer and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy for a DJ set.