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Citadel Festival 2018

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With the nightmare that revellers experienced trying to get home aside, Citadel had another solid year on its third outing. Despite being a one day event, it does have the feel of a full festival, with plenty of yoga and art classes to pass the time. But make no mistake, Aussie psych-rockers, Tame Impala, are the main motivation for most people being here. Not to mention well-established Scots, CHVRCHES, also having a say just beforehand.

First band to grace the main stage though, in a decidedly ungraceful manner, are fresh-faced punk outfit, Shame. The South London quintet really get the party started, with lead singer Eddie Green violently and repeatedly forcing his arms down in a dance all of his own. They blaze through songs like One Rizla and Concrete, and get things whipped up suitably. At one point Green dives into the crowd, and then screams at the security to release his leg so he can stage dive uninhibited, like his punk heroes of old. Considering Citadel is mostly rock bands fusing with electonic music, Shame score big points for the pure guitar bands of the world.

Those not watching the World Cup final get to experience a very different French act to the national football team. It’s difficult to put the performance of La Femme into words. There’s a huge amount going on: the cross dressing, the trio of singers, the army of vintage synthesisers, and the multi-instrumental madness. It’s perhaps not all that surprising that these psych-punks are not too bothered about missing their team battle it out with Croatia. What they are bothered about, however, is putting on a show, and to say they do that would be an understatement. Tracks like It’s Time To Wake Up and Où Va Le Monde get feet shuffling, and the rock and roll ending to their set is quite glorious.

And now, it’s time for church/chvrch. As the sun slowly descends and we reach 7pm, the boozed-up Londoners are more than ready for some good old synth-pop. CHVRCHES happily oblige, as opener Get Out makes clear, with its huge synth leads and clap-along snares. Bury It is similarly anthemic, and is evidence that frontwoman Lauren Mayberry is moving around the stage with great zest these days, after criticism for being a little static a few years ago.

There are a couple of pedestrian moments in the set, which is partly because the acts either side of CHVRCHES are vastly more experimental. When Martin Doherty relieves Mayberry of vocal duties temporarily for Under The Tide, his vocals really do pale in comparison. Full credit, though, to the energy he brings to it. When the mic is back in Mayberry’s hands, and The Mother We Share rings out, its mass singalongs o’clock. It’s a strong set that shows CHVRCHES were made for the bigger stages.

Anticipation is rife for Tame Impala. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their arrival is announced by some very trippy visuals on the screen. And before long, we’re being blasted with confetti for opener Let It Happen. People climb on top of each other’s shoulders in something of a mass frenzy. If you’re further back, good luck deciphering what’s happening on the stage, as the visuals stay fully psychedelic throughout. The Perth outfit recently broke a year off from touring, not that you’d know it. It’s one of those sets where you can’t quite believe that everything you’re hearing is live.

When the magnificent bassline of The Less I Know The Better kicks in, it’s easily one of the highlights of the day. The crowd are basqued in neon pinks and blues, and it’s the perfect end to a hazy sunday. Elephant, perhaps their most festival friendly track, does not disappoint. Sadly, what follows this set is the festival-goers queuing for two hours for tubes that turn out to be cancelled — a horrendous miscommunication between TFL and the festival. But, pretending that didn’t happen, it was another solid display from Citadel.