Wolfe Tones draw record Electric Picnic 'Arena' crowd as revellers soak up the sun
"Graffiti on the walls that says, 'We're magic, we're magic'."
The graffiti, as many of us know, said much more than that, and The Wolfe Tones were not going to change their lyrics for a second. The veteran Irish band drew a record crowd to the Electric Arena, on Sunday, and had the place bouncing.
Electric Picnic 2023 drew to a close, on Sunday, after three days of music and merriment that saw the likes of Niall Horan, Billie Eilish and The Killers play headline slots to the thronging masses.
The Saw Doctors also drew big crowds but it was the Wolfe Tones - now in their 60th year as a band - that had the place hopping. The band, who pride themselves in rebel tunes and traditional Irish music, set a record for attendance at the Electric Arena, with many wishing they had been booked for the main stage.
The biggest reception the band got was when they played 'Celtic Symphony', a song that landed the Ireland women's national team in bother when they sang it in their dressing room, at Hampden Park, after qualifying for their first ever World Cup. The lyrics (in part) are:
'I seen graffiti on the walls (of the Celts, of the Celts)'Graffiti on the walls that says, "We're magic, we're magic" 'Graffiti on the wall, graffiti on the wall 'And it says... 'Ooh ah up the 'RA, say ooh ah up the 'RA 'Ooh ah up the 'RA, say ooh ah up the 'RA'
That 'RA' is a reference to the I.R.A [Irish Republican Army] but Brian Warfield, who wrote and performs the song, once remarked that it could well be about the Egyptian God 'Ra'.
"It's a football song," Warfield said last year. "It's a song I wrote about Celtic."
With the sun beating down on Stradbally, Co. Laois, the Wolfe Tones sang the original lyrics as the heaving crowd sang along.
The Wolfe Tones ended up drawing one of @epfestival’s largest ever crowds today! 👀🇮🇪
Crowds of up to 50-people deep gathered outside the Electric Arena tent at EP, with many festival go’ers bemoaning the decision not to book them to the main stage. #electricpicnic #wolfetones pic.twitter.com/tWWF1jln8i
— JOE.ie (@JOEdotie) September 3, 2023
Wolfe Tones drew huge crowd on final day
Only last month, The Wolfe Tones came in for criticism from several unionists after their set at the West Belfast Festival, which included 'Celtic Symphony'.
At the time, Brian Warfield has rejected criticism of his band's set, telling Newstalk's The Hard Shoulder: "They're criticising one song out of a whole evening of two and a half hours. We don't encourage chanting. It's not chanting, but the crowd sing along with every song that we sing... to pick out one song out of two and a half hours you don't agree with."
The final day at Electric Picnic saw 70,000 revellers soak up the sun as they took in an array of acts, from Glória LGBT+ Choir and Rick Astley to The Saw Doctors and The Killers.
Next year 2024 will see Electric Picnic celebrate 20 years in Stradbally, and Festival Director Melvin Melvin outlined how the town will always be home for the festival. Onnplans for the future of the festival, which will take place earlier in the summer next year from 16-18 August, Melvin said capacity will increase by 5,000.
Anyone who was at Electric Picnic 2023 will have a chance to buy tickets, this Thursday, before Friday’s general on-sale. There will then be a final release of tickets on sale from October 1.
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