When day two begins with a rendition I Can See Clearly Now from Hothouse Flowers it’s impossible not to sing along and revel in the sunshine. Nevertheless it’s The Chieftains who really get the crowd moving. Another band who, like The Dubliners, have been around for 50 years, it’s clear they know how to put on a show and as they’re joined by a pipe band, Canadian step dancers and Irish dancers during the course of their set, it’s impossible not to become enthralled. With the traditional Here’s A Health To A Company, The Rocky Road To Dublin and Cotton-Eyed Joe, ‘the national anthem of Texas’, it’s a fun-filled set which sees the crowd unashamedly dancing away.
On the acoustic stage, it was impossible not to be drawn in by Briana Corrigan’s distinctive vocals and as she kicks off with 13 Wonderful Love Songs I find myself reminiscing back to her Beautiful South days, as the same catchy pop vibes ring through the number. During the more laid back Stay, I can’t help but notice the two miniature red heads singing along to every word at the front of the stage, but as Briana’s sultry vocals fill the courtyard it is reasonable to expect that they won’t not hold the title of number one fans for long, with the crowd seemingly mesmerised by every word.
On the main stage, Imelda May somehow still manages to command proceedings in her killer heels. As she heckles the photographers exclaiming ‘I know what yous lots is waiting for…’ before proudly turning to give the crowd a side shot of her bump I get the feeling in a few years there’ll be another tambourine player joining her on stage. A set filled with up tempo rockabilly, Love Tattoo and Sneaky Freak see the entire crowd singing along, but it’s Proud and Humble which seems to carry the weight and as I spot her later greeting fans from the press area, it becomes clear that this is no idle song written simply to sell records.
Elsewhere I manage to catch glimpses of Seasick Steve working his guitars into a frenzy, amid a torrent of ‘Steve-o, Steve-o’ from the crowd. Duke Special also delights onlookers as he downs a can of Heineken before launching into Apple Jack. Meanwhile, Macy Gray and her glitter covered microphone stand draws in the audience with a cover of Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again and though I can’t help but feel she’s clearly missed the memo about the weather this doesn’t stop the near capacity tent from joining in with harmonies.
Nevertheless as the sun begins to set on Westport, it’s Eddi Reader who acts as the finishing touch to my weekend. With Dandelion being dedicated to the patron saint of middle-aged women (Susan Boyle) and a heart breaking rendition of stage companion Boo Hewerdine’s Muddy Water it’s a well paced set, which is over all too soon. Closing the festival with Willie Stewart, complete with Eddi’s Scottish dancing on the stage I can’t help but feel the preceding Fairground Attraction favourite Perfect pretty much sums up my entire weekend.
Westport exceeded all expectations, ending up on a par with Glastonbury despite it’s smaller size, offering a welcoming environment and world class artists. I’m left only to hope that they move the date forward or back a weekend next year to save me from what will be an impossible toss up between a trip to Pilton Farm and the Emerald Isle.
Photos © Jo Cox and must not be reproduced without prior consent