On Thursday the 25th of August I headed up to Belfast for Day One of Tennent’s Vital 2016. Tennent’s Vital is an annual two-day music festival, made up of two single day concerts, in Northern Ireland that currently takes place in The Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast. Day One was being headlined by Red Hot Chili Peppers with support from Fall Out Boy, Labrinth, Cage The Elephant and Otherkin, an absolutely massive line up!
The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the festival is just how massive the setup is, there was a lot to take in. The venue is a giant field, it was filled with tonnes of food stands, drink stands (including dedicated ones for both Coca-Cola and Deep RiverRock), merchandise stands and a gigantic bar (23 buses in length). There were two sections of porta-potties and multiple drinking water outlets, a viewing platform for the disabled and emergency services on site. There was security everywhere – every precaution possible was taken to ensure the safety of attendees. There was a pit area in front of the stage which required wristbands to get into, this helped to divide up the crowd. The stage itself was massive, the biggest festival stage in Northern Ireland in fact. The VIP section was very impressive, it had a VIP Bar – The Vital, which consisted of two floors, the second of which was a balcony, and it also had plenty of tables and chairs to chill out on and toilets that were basically regular ones instead of porta-potties. The weather was surprisingly perfect and thousands of attendees had already arrived.
Just as I got into the field at 4.30 Dublin 4 piece Otherkin took to the stage to open the festival, it was only their 2nd show in Belfast. Otherkin have been playing the festival circuit all summer with appearances at the likes of the Isle of Wight Festival, Longitude, and Latitude already done and dusted by Tennent’s Vital. They kicked the day off with ’20 to 11’ before playing ‘Feel It’, both tracks are from ‘The 201 EP’. They picked up the pace a bit by playing ‘I Was Born’ the first single released off ‘The New Vice EP’ the crowd clapping along enthusiastically to it. Vocalist Luke Reilly is an engaging frontman, he did his best to get the crowd warmed up and interacting with their set. Luke was already topless from the heat by the time they played recent single ‘Yeah, I Know’, for the song that followed it Luke abandoned his guitar and headed to the front of the crowd, demanded they get on the ground, then he got them to jump up, after which he jumped into the pit itself to finish out the song. I was surprised by just how good Otherkin are live, even on a large stage, simply put, Otherkin were the perfect band to open the festival with their raw infectious energy warming up the crowd perfectly. Ones to watch: 8/10.
American rock band Cage the Elephant took to the stage at 5.25, taking huge advantage of the space offered by the large stage, with an impressive 7 musicians lined up on it, the bands 4 members and 3 additional touring musicians. They started their set with ‘Cry Baby’ off their latest album 2015’s ‘Tell Me I’m Pretty’, they followed it up with one of their oldest hits ‘In One Ear’, off their debut self-titled album, during which the crowd clapped along during the right parts, while vocalist Matthew Shultz spent the song running around the stage erratically. They played another newer track ‘Cold Cold Cold’ next, Matthew continued to take advantage of the size of the stage by running about some more before approaching the barrier and singing into the crowd. Two more tracks off their latest album, ‘Trouble’ and ‘Mess Around’ were played next before their most chilled out number ‘Cigarette Daydreams’, which a significant amount of the crowd sang along to. ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ off their debut album went down well with the crowd before the guitar heavy ‘Shake Me Down’, the only song in the set off their 2nd album ‘Thank You, Happy Birthday’. They finished their set to applause with ‘Come A Little Closer’, the stand out track of their set, it is an incredibly strong and emotional live track. Cage The Elephant are a very strong, captivating and talented band live: 8.5/10.
At 6.25 English singer-songwriter Labrinth took to the stage backed by a 4 piece band, guitar in hand, kicking off his set with ‘Misbehavin’’, throughout the song, and the entire set, he switched between playing his guitar and utilizing the equipment he had set up on the stage, which included a laptop and keys. He followed up by playing the first hit of his set 2014’s ‘Let It Be’. The next couple of tracks played were mostly new unreleased tracks and got little response from the crowd. ‘Jealous’ was absent from the set – a strange choice as it was a recent top-10 hit for him. As ‘Passout’ kicked off the crowd woke back up and reacted hugely to it, this enthusiasm continued into ‘Higher’. The short but sweet ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ triggered the biggest sing-a-long of the day yet before Labrinth finished his set off on a high note with the absolutely massive festival anthem that is ‘Earthquake’. A rocky middle but the most out of place act of the day sold his set by playing hit after hit: 7.5/10.
As 7.30 hit American pop punk heroes Fall Out Boy took to the stage as a simple 4 piece with ‘The Phoenix’ off ‘Save Rock and Roll’. Next, they threw back all the way to 2005’s with ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’ off their breakthrough album ‘From Under the Cork Tree’ before shooting forward 10 years with ‘Irresistible’ off their latest album 2015’s ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’. Next fans were treated to more of a live rarity with ‘Hum Hallelujah’ off 2007’s ‘Infinity On High’ before ‘Alone Together’ and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’. It is of note that the band had a big stage presence despite the minimal movement of the members during the set. Before ‘Fourth Of July’ their bassist Pete Wentz talked about how honoured he was to open for Red Hot Chili Peppers a band he had looked up to since he was a kid, he then went on to dedicate the song to the kids who make art in the crowd, stating that one day one of them would be opening for his band. ‘Uma Thurman’ got the crowd dancing and clapping along to its beat and catchy chorus before ‘Dance, Dance’, during which a member of the crowd in the pit was standing on one of his friends. The infectious pop of the title track off ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’ followed before a surprising highlight of the set came in the form of ‘I Don’t Care’, the only song in the set off 2009’s not so well received ‘Folie à Deux’. There were strobe lights flashing during ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’ and yellow fireworks went off during ‘Centuries’, after which they took a photo with the crowd.
‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’ was accompanied by pyro during the ‘so light ’em up’ line of the chorus. They finished their set with ‘Saturday’ off their first album 2003’s ‘Take This To Your Grave’, during which Pete Wentz put down his bass so that he could scream along before he made his way towards the front of the crowd so that he could scream the lyrics into the faces of those lucky enough to be there. Fall Out Boy somehow crammed a balanced sixteen song set, featuring plenty of new material off ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’ and a string of their classic hits charting across their 13-year long career, into a set that was just over an hour long; they simply displayed flawless talent: 10/10.
As 9.15 hit darkness had fallen on the festival grounds and tens of thousands of music fans were waiting for Red Hot Chili Peppers to take to the stage. As the intro to ‘Can’t Stop’ started being played and the band took to the stage the crowd exploded, easily the loudest they had been all day. The stage set up was big, 1 large half oval screen in the centre, with 4 smaller circle screens around it, strobes and tonnes of lights, during ‘Can’t Stop’ these screens showed live black and white footage of the band playing. During ‘Dani California’ these screens were yellow with purple lights, following ‘Scar Tissue’ vocalist Anthony Kiedis greeted the crowd, ‘hello, nice to meet you’. ‘Dark Necessities’ off their new and eleventh album ‘The Getaway’ followed and got a warm response from the crowd, during it, Anthony gave a shout out to their synth and piano player Chris. The first big highlight of their set came from ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’ off 2006’s ‘Stadium Arcadium’ as the crowd erupted into a big sing-a-long, with people on each other’s shoulders and plenty of crowd surfers.
Newer songs followed with ‘Look Around’, the only song in the set off 2012’s ‘I’m with You’, and the title track off ‘The Getaway’. Another highlight of the set came when they played one of my favourite songs ‘Otherside’, a bass solo from Flea started off the song before guitarist Josh Klinghoffer joined in for a bass/guitar duel, like ‘Snow’ this song caused another massive sing-a-long with people again sitting on each other’s shoulders. For ‘Suck My Kiss’ the lights focused on the 4 members of the band grouped together in the centre of the stage. The lights and video crew all deserve major credit for the work they put into Red Hot Chili Peppers set, it was all an amazing spectacle and added a lot to an already perfect set. Another new song ‘Go Robot’, my favourite off ‘The Getaway’, was played next before a second bass/guitar duel, which got faster and faster as it went, kicked into ‘Californication’. A string of hits in the form of ‘Parallel Universe’, ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘By The Way’ finished off the main body of their set.
For their encore, Red Hot Chili Peppers played one last new song ‘Goodbye Angel’ off ‘The Getaway’, which felt like a fitting song. Just before the last song of their set started the sky opened and the first rain of the day poured down on the crowd, together with ‘Give It Away’ this ended the night perfectly. As expected Red Hot Chili Peppers are easily the best band I have ever seen live, only a few very tiny cracks show through, despite their age, Flea in particular, did his best not to show his age by bouncing around the stage all set to the delight of the crowd. It was just another night for one of the best bands in the world but for everybody else it was unforgettable: 10/10.
Every act who played Tennent’s Vital 2016, Day One put on very enjoyable sets, the atmosphere was incomparable to anything else I have attended, the weather was a huge bonus and kept everybody in good spirits as they enjoyed the perfect festival vibe. I will be back to Tennent’s Vital next Summer for sure and I would encourage you all to get tickets to one (if not both) of the days too.
All images featured in the piece above are ‘free pictures’ provided by Tennent’s Vital. IrishRockn’Metal claims no rights to the above images, they have been used for reporting purposes only.