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theartsfest 2015 - Sunday | reviews, news & interviews

theartsfest 2015 - Sunday

theartsfest 2015 - Sunday

The second day of our ideal festival line-up compiled from the best gigs of 2015

Madonna Rebel Heart Tour: New York

So, the first day's done. We awake, bleary-eyed and emerge from our tents and survey the scene. No matter how bad it looks for our immediate future health, the clouds are sure to clear before the inaugural beer and opening bands. The quality continues as we run through the very best we've seen this year to create the best bespoke festival we can imagine given theartsdesk's collective gig-going this year.

In short, ladies and gentlemen… welcome to Sunday's line up of theartsfest 2015.


Madonna 10.00 - 11.30

It was perhaps the most-anticipated live tour of the year, though in many quarters, not very kindly. When it landed, like many rebellions, in a blitz of colour and costume, Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour had an energy and passion that seized the moment, and took the audience by surprise. The new songs were spectacular to watch, if not always to listen to, but perhaps most sheerly enjoyable was the collage of old hits: “La Isla Bonita”, “Into the Groove” and “Who’s That Girl” tumbled over one another in a flurry of maracas, rose silk gowns, and as the show progressed, more chat with the audience, while her intimate covers of Edith Piaf and Marilyn Monroe shrank the hall, and gave the big tent that rarest of performing qualities, intimacy. It’s been a good few years for female soloists, with strong competition from Björk and Kate Bush, but for sheer adrenaline and impact, Madonna deserves the headline. Matthew Wright

Super Furry Animals: 08.30 - 09.30

Despite having seen SFA in Cardiff and Brixton, it was their storming headline performance as the rain lashed down on the Brecon Beacons at The Green Man Festival that convinced me of the need to include them on the bill for theartsfest. With a back catalogue that veers between progressive-tinged, folksy meanderings and pynchy-punky thrashalong songs, they have appeal as broad as the Beacons themselves, and are able to transform a crowd from rain-sodden desperation to sunshine evocation in the space of a single, heartfelt song. To put you in the mood, here's their live set from this year's Glastonbuty festival. Barney Harsent

Replacements: 7.00 - 8.00

Back in the '80s, you would never have gone to see the Replacements for their consistency: some of the band's most legendary shows were performed drunk, in dresses or entirely in cover versions. But, perhaps in deference to those of us who had been waiting all of our lives to see them, consistency was not a problem for their most recent iteration – their show at the Roundhouse in June was a tribute to the scrappy, spirited rock n roll that made a legion of just-too-young kids (and musicians from Ryan Adams to the Gaslight Anthem) fall in love with them in the first place. Paul Westerberg called time on an almost-two year revival of the band three days later, during a festival performance in Portugal – but if dream shows can come true once, they may do so again. You never know. Lisa-Marie Ferla

Lionel Richie: 5.45 - 6.30

Let us be clear, Lionel Richie’s 1980s output was riddled with pongy schmaltz-cheese that clogged up the radio for months and drove me insane. I truly loathe “Hello”, “Say You, Say Me” and the like. However – and it’s a big “however” – at Glastonbury Festival 2015 the interplay between Richie and the vast crowd that gathered to see him was a thing of wonder, an extraordinary vibe, to be hippy about it. That’s why he’s in our line-up. That and the way he still tackles the raunch-funk of The Commodores’ “Brick House” and, OK, I’ll admit it, his joyous live take on “Dancing on the Ceiling”. Thomas H Green

10,000 Russos: 4.30 - 5.15 

Portuguese space cadets, 10.000 Russos took to the stage looking like a psychedelicised Hüsker Dü and let rip wave after wave of high volume drone music. This had guitarist Pedro Pestana “playing” his effects boxes as much as his six-string, while André Couto and Joāo Pimenta’s deep groove drove some in the audience into a frenzy. Passing around various percussion instruments and beating them into submission to visceral takes of “Karl Burns”, “Stakhanovets” and other choice cuts from the band’s spectacular self-titled debut album. All good things must come to an end, however, and eventually the band was pulled from the stage by the heaving crowd amid big smiles and screaming ear drums. Guy Oddy

Sebadoh: 3.15 - 4.00 

From the tiny stage of the country's official best small music venue, the Ramsgate Music Hall, Lou Barlow and co. managed to create an atmosphere quite unlike any I've witnessed this year. Charming, witty, hugely likeable and, crucially, with near-perfect songs that never disappoint and completely involve, they are, without doubt, the perfect act to open the Main Stage at our ideal music festival. Barney Harsent


Grace Jones: 10.00 - 11.30

Grace Jones does not stint when it comes to her show. She headlined the second day of the Common People Festival in Southampton earlier this year and blew everyone away with her near naked voodoo skeleton outfits, her precarious headdresses, her male pole-dancer, her extraordinary hula-hooping stamina, her explosive tickertape cannons, and more, all backed up with the rip-roaring electro-funk of hits such as “Slave to the Rhythm” and “Pull Up To the Bumper”. We hope she brings the same eye-popping spectacle when she headlines the Undercover Stage at theartsfest 2015. Thomas H Green

Caravan Palace: 8.30 - 9.30 

Despite their appearance in October on the Jonathan Ross Show, French electro-swingers Caravan Palace remain below most festival radars. All the better to hit audiences unawares with their blend of grooving, syncopated rhythm, the slick, acoustic sound of brass and violin and the limb-twitching science of the Balearic beats scene. Electro-swing has a bit of an image problem in the UK. So get a French band in to perform it, and by the time the heaving dance floor knows what they’re dancing to, they won’t care any more. The band’s performance at Wilderness Festival in August turned an empty field into a grooving mass in minutes. Two tracks from this year’s album are guaranteed to ignite: “Midnight”, with a snaking baritone saxophone melody, over which the beat dances, and “Lone Digger”, mixing sax and synth melody with hip-hop lyrics and a beat. Matthew Wright

Atomic Bomb! 7.00 - 8.00 

When the little-known pyschedelic synth funk of Nigeria's William Onyeabor was rediscovered and released to the wider public, it was difficult to believe that it wasn't a carefully orchestrated ruse, so beatifully realised was his futuristic vision. It wasn't, of coure, and there was a huge appetite to see these songs in a live setting. Unforunately, the notoriously reclusive Onyeabor has never performed live and doesn't look like starting any time soon, so it fell to a group of supremely talented musicians, fronted by star turns including Talking Heads' David Byrne, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke, Green Gartside and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor to do the honours. They duly did and the live spectacle that resulted lit up festivals including The Green Man like an incandescent candle. We're sure they's do the same for theartsfest. To find out more about the genius that is William Onyeabor, have a look at the film below. Barney Harsent

Sleaford Mods: 5.45 - 6.30

When Sleaford Mods appeared on Jools Holland this year, they caused outrage. Admittedly it was from the sort of person who thinks that yes, we should keep music live, and presumably sees popular music's high watermark as Fairground Attraction, but it was outrage all the same. Anyway, it made us ask the question: could two blokes, a couple of cans, a computer and some of the best, most erudite and fiercly charged lyrics that we've heard in an age, translate to a festival? Could the sparse stage be filled by righteous fury and poetic swearing? Well, yes. Yes, it could. Here they are, from their incendiary gig this year at Ramsgate Music Hall earlier this year as proof positive. Warning: Very NSFW or home if you've got kids who haven't started school yet. Barney Harsent

Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party: 4.30 - 5.15

Jazz used to be at home on the dancefloor, but nowadays it spends most of its time sat in the corner thinking. A lot of the good stuff is aimed at your cerebrum not your sex organs. It’ll splash colour across your grey matter but it won’t do much for your hips. American pianist Jason Moran’s tribute to ‘30s legend Fats Waller, the live counterpart to 2014 release All Rise, earns its place here because it does both and so much more besides. With the band in vibrant fabrics and Moran in a Haitian carnival mask – a hefty Waller head complete with hat and smouldering papier-mâché fag – it looks spectacular. And the pianist’s reimaginings of classics like “Honeysuckle Rose” and “‘Ain't Misbehavin'" as smouldering R&B groovers, hip hop bangers and trippy, melancholic mood-swingers will have you on your feet, drunk on serotonin. Thomas Rees

Reem Kelani: 3.15 - 4.00 

You don’t see the London-based Palestinian singer Reem Kelani on tour – mainly because she gives so much in each show she needs several days to recover. She’s an audacious performer and not just in her repertoire – who else would follow a version of “Strange Fruit” with a song about Palestinian women visiting their husbands in jail and a century old jazzy singalong about the Sykes-Picot agreement, which carved up “Asia Minor” in 1916. She is a true maverick who often upsets Palestinian factions while also refusing to share the stage with Zionists and hating anti-semitism in all its forms. A singer who is likely to say “Fuck ISIS – let's dance” and quite likes being called a “sexy mama”. Peter Culshaw

Lionel Richie’s 1980s output was riddled with pongy schmaltz-cheese that clogged up the radio for months and drove me insane

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