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Splendour In The Grass - The Review

Author: Rachel Davison, Harvey Rae
Friday, August 17, 2007
Splendour in the Grass
Belongil Fields, Byron Bay
4th and 5th August 2007

Splendour in the Grass will in 2007 be remembered as the year it didn't rain and the last time it was held at its original home of Belongil Fields (just a 30-minute walk from the Byron Bay town). While the 2007 line-up might not have been as exciting as previous years, it was a well-run festival and everyone had a splendid time, walking away invigorated by the county air and a swag of new favourite bands.

Day one saw Sydney five-piece the Lost Valentinos (previously the Valentinos) get things off to a very-hard-to-beat start by putting on a mighty-fine performance on the main Supertop stage. Well known rock-electro tunes like Rain and Man With A Gun sat alongside a bunch of cool new tracks, which were performed energetically on the stage and off (the lead singer jumping in the crowd more than once!) Dressed smartly in black, white and red, they left no doubt in the minds of everyone who witnessed them that they're destined for huge things. Meanwhile in the folky, laid-back, and civilised G.W. McLennan Theatre, Old Man River played his pop tunes and blissful guitar in one of the Theatre's most popular shows.

The first big international to hit the Supertop was The Horrors - the band pegged by Jarvis Cocker as the 'future of British rock' - quite possibly put on the best show of the festival. It was hard to tell what was real and what was theatrics, as the singer walked round in circles dragging pieces of equipment on the stage and when roadies moved them back, he muttered "I need this, I want it back and I won't pay for it." He asked the crowd "what's the date-" and "which one of us is anaesthetised, can you tell-" The keyboard player was just as entertaining with his keyboard theatrics and hang-man routine with his scarf. This band looks and sounded fabulous with their dark rock undertones and, while every track is not a winner, this comical routine was hugely appealing to many people, even if it left others unsure of what to make of it all.

UK lads the Editors were on next, taking everyone by surprise with the massive turn-out so early in the day. If you haven't been that struck on their latest album, the live show might possibly win you over. Suffice to say no one left the Supertop unimpressed with their big stadium sound.

Over in the Theatre, Tilly And The Wall and The Panics went through the motions in two of the festivals less memorable shows, the former suffering from not honing their sound for a festival stage, while in the case of Jae Laffer's WA expats, a few sparkling new tracks hardly made up for the fact that they were lacking live practice, having just finished recording their third album.

In the evening, one of Australia's great songwriters, Paul Kelly, hit the Theatre with a six-piece line-up which featured Ash Naylor on guitar, followed by Sarah Blasko who sang brilliant songs from her last two albums, plus her amazing cover of Flame Trees, which was a massive treat and a memorable Splendour moment.

Over in the Mix-Up tent, Australia's six-piece dance-act Sneaky Sound System had drawn a huge crowd and surprised those a bit cynical about commercial dance music, because they sounded so good! Playing songs from their debut album, including I Love It, Miss Connie Mitchell had a great stage presence (and cool hair) and this here reviewer had to eat her words for tagging them as the band least likely to make an impression.

Nu-raver Hot Chip was one of the highlights of the festival, with a live set up of five keyboards lined across the front of stage and band members occasionally swapping their keyboards for guitars and percussion. The vocals were particularly special and the visuals in the Mix-Up Tent really added to the performance. Over And Over could quite possibly be pegged as the track of the<