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Published on September 7th, 2011 | by willok


Electric Picnic 2011: West Cork Ukulele Orchestra

Any review of the Electric Picnic experience can be justifiably called a post-mortem – there have been traumas, blunt force abuse of livers and inhumane conditions – but of course the object of the exercise is enjoyment and this also occured. I don’t recall right now how the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra came into my life, that is, the sequence of events that lead us to the performance area in the Slow Food section, but I have been able to hang on to the enthusiasm I felt on hearing them this past Saturday. I have also hung on to the enthusiasm I felt hearing them this past Sunday when we returned with a bigger group of soon-to-be-converts, got seats closer to the act and also led the dancing at the end of the set. Maybe not meeting all the requirements for the dictionary definition of an orchestra the group comprises 10 performers, each expert in handling a yukulele, and also as the need arises, a banjo, duck sounding synthesizer mouth piece things (apologies to musicians who know the correct term for this) and a pair of sunglasses. The music is a take on a poppy, rocky, country, bluesy selection of music that filled up charts and tasteful playlists of the last few decades, with the songs delivered in a new dynamic style. Their harmonies fill you like chicken soup, the troupe have strong, eclectic, capable voices and each interpretation seems fully thought through and given a new lease of life.

I am doubtful of the idea that parents can’t choose a favourite child but in that vein I genuinely do not want to choose one song over another but there were some stellar numbers like a jazzy take on ‘Lovecats’, a wonderful duet of ‘True Colours’, a song, new to me, called ‘Wagon Wheel’ from a lady who could have been on secondment from a Nashville theatre and a personal favourite, an anthemic version of ‘Sledge Hammer’. New karaoke song in the bag, thank you. Alongside the music, the performers were engaging, interacted so well with the audience, were funny and lead well by a natural spokesman. Also, to add to the list, is that the group is uniformly good-looking. I’m conscious this post is a a bit gushing but rather than offer an apology I will direct you to the group’s Facebook page¬†where you will see I’m not alone in my praise. This was the group’s first performance outside of Cork, let’s hope the good word spreads to non-Cork soon. The YouTube clips on their website give an indication but not a full glorious testament to their quality. My advice – seek them out; learn more via their website, Twitter and aforementioned Facebook page.

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