Moira Calling Festival 2016
As the curtains close on festival season 2016, there’s time to squeeze in just one more little one.
Moira Calling is small, but perfectly formed for an early autumn afternoon in picturesque Moira. No endless jaunt involved in getting there – just a nip up the M1. No muck-mulched field to squelch the car through – just tarmac with white lines. The worn out wellies even got to stay in the boot – no last trip out for those pair (they’re ripped and torn now anyway, but hey, they’ve seen some good times).
Due to unforeseen circumstances, I’m later getting there than planned and have just missed my favourite Ports. This is a shame, and a shame they were on so early. My fault entirely – however, the ‘The Devil is a Songbird’ is an uncontrollable earworm and leaves room for little else.
I’m in time for Pleasure Beach though. Last Saturday afternoon I saw them in the Cosby Tent at Electric Picnic. That was a totally energetic and magnetic performance. If the crowd wasn’t won over by the time they covered Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’, they were on their feet and upfront on the spur. It’s a little more tame here in Moira Demesne, nonetheless, they are having a blast (especially the enigmatic drummer – she wears a huge happy smile throughout the set).
Acts alternate between the Maine Stage and All The Little Lights Stage, and the compact scale means it’s just a few steps away. I’m grateful – there’s a bench to sit on to soak up the graceful sounds of Hannah McPhillimy, with her backing vocalist and cellist. She just gets better and better.
Each time there’s something new to her unique style that’s so difficult to pin down. She finishes her set with the beautiful ‘House Of Healing’.
The Maine Stage (Maine with an ‘e’ because its sponsored by Maine Lemonade, naturally) hosts Ex-Magician next – the phoenix formed from the ashes of Cashier No9. It’s a completely different sound, but there’s still a subtle cashier-esque residue. Brash, brutal, yet polished and melodic rock.
Maya Angelou is credited with saying that ‘they won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel’ and I wasn’t expecting this but Michael Mormecha’s set had that effect. Despite a couple of technical hitches and the black stockings over the heads, there was something unsettling and superb that just got under the skin. Got chills.
David C Clements – one of Northern Ireland’s best contemporary songwriters – is always a joy to hear. The sun has just set and the cool evening air descends around the Maine stage – just the right atmosphere for ‘Oh Child’, while ‘Oh Hurricane’ and its sentiments of peace, love and hope perfect for Moira Calling’s mini-festival vibe – before rounding off with Callum Stewart headlining the Little Lights and Dublin folk duo Hudson Taylor on the Maine Stage.
Well done Brown Lemonade, a fine showcase of Northern Ireland’s finest talent in the mellow setting of Moira Demesne. Let’s hope they run it again.