LEFTFIELD - PUMP UP THE VOLUME!

[b]nme.com[/b] reports from the first [a]Homelands[/a] dance music festival of the year...

LEFTFIELD - PUMP UP THE VOLUME!
LEFFIELD played their first live show of the century last night (April 29) as they headlined the 30,000 capacity Homelands festival in Ireland.

Sticking with tracks from last year's 'Rhythm and Stealth' rather than their 1995 breakthrough 'Leftism', the duo operated as a four-piece with an additional programmer and keyboard player. They also went some way to reproducing the brutal dub throb for which they are renowned.

Encore track 'Phat Planet' reached such a volume that many close to the stage were forced to retreat some distance. As a warm-up to their British tour kicking off in Glasgow Barrowlands on May 11 it boded well.

However, the dark minimal images projected behind them could not really disguise the fact that live Daly and Barnes appear to do little to augment their recorded tracks, except pushing them out much, much louder.

Darren Emerson played his first set since the midweek announcement of his departure from last year's headliners Underworld. A techno-lite collection suggested that regardless, it was business as usual.

Primal Scream's set ended on a controversial note when before the now customary closing cover of MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams', bassist Mani thanked the audience then shouted 'Tiocsaidh ar la'. The Irish phrase, which means our day will come, has been adopted by Irish Republicans as a battle cry against opponents. The significance was not lost on the crowd within the 'home' arena, many of whom left early following the remark. Both Mani and Bobby Gillespie's 'Troops Out of Northern Ireland' agenda has been documented before.

The site itself ended up looking like a warzone when several days of heavy rain turned the Mosney Holiday Camp fields into to a messy quagmire. The many bales of straw tractored in throughout the day did little to solidify ground that had almost 10,000 more pairs of feet tramping through it than last year.

Ian Brown too had his share of problems. Rumours had ran round the site that King Monkey's set would be made up entirely of Michael Jackson covers. In the end it didn't materialise.

In fact, due to technical glitches, it all ground to an ignominious halt. Five songs in, following a plodding 'My Star' and bizarre cover of Altered Images 'Happy Birthday', a computer failure led to a 15-minute break. He returned for three songs before disappearing for good.

Reception of the day was afforded to Judge Jules. The BBC Radio One favourite was given a five minute ovation as he walked to the decks in the 'Lush' marquee before a record had even been played. He repaid their fervour with a collection of trance and hard house favourites.

Paul Oakenfold surprised many with a set that veered away a little from the accepted popular dance canon. Radiohead's 'Street Spirit' and U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name' left many bemused but content.

Belfast's David Holmes, who will release 'Bow Down To The Exit Sign' his eagerly-anticipated third album in June, had no such luck. Placed between the Primals and Leftfield, his Iggy and the Stooges, PiL and Cornelius mix may have been a welcome contrast to much that had gone before in the day, but left too many either scratching their heads or clearing 'home' altogether.

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