Festival season is upon us once again. This is a time to forget about bills, the looming property tax, general woes of work, and just enjoy the music and the company of like-minded folk, writes Miriam Doona.

When asked to comprise a list of the top five acts to see at the Body & Soul festival, I happily obliged as this is an all too familiar ritual of mine. I am an ardent festival enthusiast and attendee and have been for many years.

Festivals bring the eternal and agonizing struggle in deciding which bands to see and the difficulty of choosing between overlapping acts. A Chic-versus-Madness overlap posed a pretty traumatic dilemma for me at one event, and a Sophie’s Choice-like decision had to be made. As with all of life’s important dilemmas, a call has to be made with no looking back…

So to ease matters at this year’s Body & Soul festival – whichkicks off this weekend (June 21—23)on the grounds of Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, Co. Westmeath – here are five must-see acts.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

This is an act that needs no introduction. Australian (mostly) band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will bring their unique dark alternative post-punk musical style to the shores of Ireland. The band has a new album, Push the Sky Away, so a mixture of old and new material can possibly be anticipated and predicted. We will have to wait and see, but no doubt they will be very, very well received.

The Congos

The Congos alone would entice me to this festival. This is reggae royalty, folks. The Congos are veterans of the genre and have been active since the 1970s. They are heroes of the underground and if you like your music tremendous, The Congos are the way to go!

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires

Charles Bradley incorporates that great ‘60s and ‘70s soul/funk ethos to his music. He is a veteran of the Daptone’s revivalist ethic and concept. Bradley also recently appeared on Later…with Jools Holland. This act promises a deeply soulful performance to the tone of James Brown.


English post-punkers Public image Limited are always a crowd pleaser. They have been formed by John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols. This band guarantees a vibrantly loud performance and it is a great opportunity to enjoy the current music of a pioneer of the punk scene.

Fuck Buttons

Fuck Buttons can loosely be described as an electronic duo. Their sound is in constant evolution and for that reason they are a dynamic group. I could also hazard a guess and say that these lads are good craic as with a name like Fuck Buttons, I imagine that they have embraced the festival etic ate very well!

And don’t forget the festival banter!

There also exists, as we know, a distinct festival banter, which I am utterly fluent in at this stage. I was engaging in such banter with a random festival friend one night after a gig, discussing the general merriment of the event. There was a giant tattoo of a spider on her neck...or so I thought until it started moving. As a result I very calmly informed her that there was a mammoth spider taking up residence on her neck. Actually, the information was relayed with such panic that all drinks were subsequently thrown in the air, as did the spider. It engaged in what only can be described as a ninja-like spin and promptly vanished. A version of a rain dance ensued in attempt to locate the offending creature, but to no avail.

I went back to my tent shortly after and utterly traumatized to be reunited with my festival co-attendees, who I had lost hours, maybe even days earlier( as time tends to move at warped speed at these events). I brought with me the dramatic and terrifying tales of the giant spiders of Stradbally. The next hour was spent tearing up and applying plastic bags in endeavor to cover all visible skin to protect ourselves against any possible spider invasion. We were like The Rubberbandits trying to catch a few ZZZs that night, but such ridiculousness is indeed the essence of festival life.

Happy festivaling, folks and watch out for those oversized arachnids!

Body & Soul kicks off this Friday. Tickets are available here.