Metropolis – RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – Review by Frances Winston – Sunday 8th November 2015
A trip beyond the pale meant that I was unable to attend this event on the Saturday which gave me a total FOMO since the amazing Le Galaxie were playing along with Hot Chip and Booka Brass Band to name just a few. Suffice to say I avoided my social media news feeds on Saturday. Fortunately I was back in time to hit it on Sunday and to say I was a bit excited is an understatement. This was very much the day of the living legends with both Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers and Chic on the bill alongside newer artists such as Mark Ronson and Jamie XX.
Even though it was an incredibly stormy day as I approached the RDS it became apparent that some people were reliving the festivals of the summer if their attire was anything to go by. Floaty sundresses and stripy shoes are not really appropriate clothing for a rainy November day but they looked like they were having fun.
As soon as you entered the venue the atmosphere of Metropolis assaulted the senses. The outdoor Arcadia stage had various DJ’s playing thumping dance beats (from the coolest DJ box in the history of DJ boxes! It had a turret! And fire!) and the smells from the food stalls were competing with each other like needy children begging you to pick them. Meanwhile an assortment of colorful characters were walking around shamelessly brandishing glitter and face paint. Once you entered the various performance areas the assault continued with light shows, sculptures and at times almost dizzying music coming from all corners of the RDS.
The first act I caught was Kormac’s Big Band who put on an amazing show and for me boded well for things to come later in the day. Electronica with brass instruments works surprisingly well and accompanied by a stunning light and graphic show it was something to behold.
Unfortunately, as always happens me with these kind of gigs, the acts I want to see all tend to be on at the same time and this proved no exception with super producer and DJ Mark Ronson clashing with Electronica genius Four Tet! Of course I did the only thing a girl could do and flitted between the two. Catching the beginning of Ronson’s set on the main stage I nipped into the nearby Shelbourne Hall before running back to catch the last 45 minutes of Ronson. Both artists had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand although Ronson’s set was probably more “obvious” and commercial with nods to his musical collaborations as well as his musical heroes very much the order of the day. Nearing the end of his set he played his iconic version of Valerie featuring Amy Winehouse on vocals and the crowd sang so loudly they almost drowned out the track. He went on to acknowledge how thrilled he was to be playing there having played in Temple Bar when he first played Ireland 12 years ago but the crowd were so into the music that seemed to go over most people’s heads.
Unlike many festivals where the downtime on a stage is just that, each time an act finished we were treated to DJs who kept the party atmosphere going until the next act took to the stage. If you were looking for a quiet few minutes between shows then this wasn’t the place for you but it did mean that the crowd was suitably pumped up before each new act. Mind you Nile Rodgers and Chic were so hotly anticipated that the crowd didn’t need much encouragement.
This group have long had a reputation for stunning live shows and they didn’t disappoint taking off at a break neck pace and never letting up as they took us on a musical odyssey through Rodgers life. Aside from playing Chic material they also included many of the most popular tracks he has written or produced in their set. This man has had an amazing impact on music as we know it and this served as reminder of the breadth of his influence. Everything from Diana Ross’ Coming Out to Duran Duran’s Notorius to Madonna’s Like a Virgin were included here. Watching a room full of people with one of the broadest demographics I’ve ever seen at a festival waving and singing along to Like a Virgin was truly something to behold. For the duration of the set the audience was in a Chic bubble as Rodgers had them eating out of the palm of his hand and it is not an exaggeration to say that you felt like you had been witness to something very special when they ended.
I planned on taking in a bit of Jamie XX but the queues that decreed his popularity also put me off heading in to see him as it would mean a lot of waiting around so I headed to the legendary Giorgio Moroder. The granddaddy of pop music retired a few years ago but thankfully he didn’t stay on the sidelines for long and he took to the stage to a rapturous reception. Moroder is now 75 and when he first appears on stage with his mop of white hair it is a bit like looking at your grandad standing behind DJ decks but as soon as he started you forgot about that as the music and the mixes transport you. Much like Rodgers the sheer volume and breadth of the music he has worked on is huge and there was definitely something for everyone in his set including classics like I Feel Love and Never ending Story!
As proceedings wound down there was a definite sense of catharsis in the venue as thousands of tired but happy punters made their way back to civilisation. This was the inaugural year of the festival and it appeared to be a resounding success from where I stood. There was a lovely chilled vibe. Less boutiquey than Electric Picnic and more structured than Forbidden Fruit this was a fantastic event and a lovely final festival for 2015.
I do however have a couple of complaints. The first would be that old chestnut – the bathrooms. There weren’t enough of them and they weren’t always easy to find. I was only in one bathroom (accessed from the main hall) that had an attendant and the others were a bit of a free for all. People were rude and unruly and the propensity for going to cubicles in groups meant many people had to abandon the queues to see the acts.
My second complaint would be the lack of enforcement of the smoking ban indoors. Although I saw security reprimand one or two people there were a huge amount of people blatantly smoking in all the stage areas. On more than one occasion I nearly got burnt with someone flailing a cigarette wildly and one couldn’t help thinking it was an accident waiting to happen.
These grumbles aside organisers could have a winner on their hands if they could replicate the chilled out vibe and knock your socks off line up of this year. I’ll certainly be back if they do once they sort the smoking issue.