With Ireland in the beginning's of a heatwave, 2023's event was, according to director Melvin Benn, one of the hottest Electric Picnics ever. "I've been to very one and I've never known it this hot", he said.
Kicking off at early doors and helping to shake the hangovers, the soothing dulcet tones of Glória LGBT+ Choir welcomed the first arrivers to the arena. Following, all-female collective Irish Women in Harmony paid tribute to some of Ireland's greatest musicians, with impassioned versions of tracks by the likes of The Cranberries and Sinéad O'Connor.
Getting the party started, former PWL records tea boy Rick Astley drew a huge crowd to the main stage, as he ripped through his '80s catalogue, newer material, and a choice hard rock cover. Greeting the crowd and noticing a sizable younger demographic, the Lancashire man joked; "so, you've all been going through your mums' CDs then?"
Self effacing, Astley proved instantly likable, with the crowd right behind him from opening number 'Together Forever'. Dropping in a new song, as well as a cover of AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell' - for which he went back to his youth, taking to the drum stool - the suited star seemed to be having the time of his life on stage.
There was of course, one song that people were waiting for, and when it arrived, it did not disappoint. A joyous singalong, the phenomenon of 'Never Gonna Give You Up' shows no signs of abating, an with a reception this good, nor should it.
Taking his bows, the singer simply proclaimed; "Ireland, what an amazing festival."
What transpired was the biggest gathering ever at the Electric Arena tent, with just as many straining to watch the band on the screens outside the vast tent, as were inside.
Introduced as "Ireland's greatest folk and ballads band", the atmosphere was buzzing, as they took to the stage. Going on to play some of their more infamous songs, including traditional lament 'Grace', young and old bandied together to sing along. Praising the man to his left, band leader Brian Warfield said at the song's conclusion; "nobody sings that song like Tommy Byrne. One of the greatest ballad singers in the world".
Though the throng seemed overwhelming at times, it wasn't until an ariel photo was released that it as revealed just how popular the rebel group had been. One for the Electric Picnic history books.
In a day bursting with lauded Irish acts, The Script took to the main stage for their first ever EP appearance. With their billing only confirmed a week or so before the festival, the Dublin band's set was one of the most anticipated of the weekend. Coming at an emotional time for the band, the show marked their first major appearance on home turf since the passing of founding guitarist Mark Sheehan in April.
That's not to say this was a wake. Far from it, front man Danny O'Donoghue appeared to be relishing the experience; from chugging a pint of Guinness at the behest of the crowd, to video calling a member of the audience's ex boyfriend.
However the absence of Sheehan was inevitably still being felt, particularly during the more sombre moments including a moving 'If You Could See Me Now'. "Nights like the are so bittersweet", he confessed; "We lost not only the guitarist from The Script, but our best mate. He was dying to do Electric Picnic, and like I said, you just never know".
"What's up Electric Picnic!? We've been coming to Ireland for twenty years", declared front man Brandon Flowers; "If you've come here looking for rock and roll, you've come to the right place!"
With a packed greatest hits set, the four-piece were the perfect act to see out what had been an incredible event.
Taking to socials as the arena emptied, organisers gushed; "What a weekend and what a crowd. Electric Picnic 2023 will be one to remember! Thank you all for bringing great vibes and making EP so special See you again next year."
Melvin Benn meanwhile, summed up his experience over the weekend, echoing the views of attendees saying; "There is not a better festival than the Electric Picnic. This genuinely stands apart".
“I see joy in the creation, and when the punters are in they feel part of the show. Not just like people who are watching. I think it’s the festival goers of the Picnic that make it particularly special. They bring a vibrancy they bring a joy and a feeling of this is our weekend and this is Ireland's most amazing festival, and arguably the best festival in the European community.”
Electric Picnic returns to Stradbally in the earlier slot of 16th – 18th August 2024. with 2023 ticketholders having the first chance to buy tickets on Thursday 7th September, before Friday 8th's general on-sale. For more, visit the festival's official site.