Moira Calling | Review

Moira Calling | Review

Moira Demesne • Saturday 08 September ’18

Words: Tracey Hanby / Photos: Tremaine Gregg/Marta Janiszewska

Moira Calling is a hidden gem of a mini-festival tucked away in the Moira Demesne, a public park in the quaint village of Moira. Just 20 minutes from Belfast and 90 minutes from Dublin, this has to be your new go-to destination festival for your calendar in 2019.

Brown Lemonade Ltd were astablished in 2015,  the company set about planning a new festival that would ‘promote all that is good in the Northern Ireland music scene’. The early Autumn festivities kicked off in 2016 with 14 handpicked acts performing on two stages in the picturesque village.

I set off on my two-hour journey up north on Saturday 08 September for my second annual trip to the festival. A warming observation for me was a notably much busier attendance this year round, with an evidently strong family presence.

This third year of Moira Calling was a truly special event to have been a part of. First impressions always count and speak volumes; especially when the organisers welcome you once again into their unique gathering of like-minded people.

One of the initial observations for me, was the orgnaisers ethos when it comes to using raw materials, in order to provide adequate seating and signage. Their ‘meet and greet’ welcomes people as they enter the venue, providing the party-goers with all the information needed. Another example of the Moira Calling’s unique and quirky brand.

You won’t see fairground rides or bouncy castles, but it is immediately obvious that is an event that is catered for adults and famillies in equal measure. This includes, safe ample space and seating, family entertainment, which ranges from: magic and trickery by ‘Sideshow Ramone’,

The festival hosts a variety of gourmet food stalls. The culinary delights included burgers, crepes as well as this year’s popular new edition, the grilled cheese stall – which is always a winner.

Bushmills was the major sponsor this year, providing the bar, which remained, as to be expected, very busy throughout the event. We did, however, miss the memorable presence of last year’s Ruby Blue Spirits (although available behind the bar). They invited me up onto their converted vintage horse box to sample their unique Vodka Bellini (flavoured vodka with prosecco) last year. This clever tactic has had me purchasing it from my local Supervalu ever since, anticipating my next social gathering.

And now, finally let’s talk about the music. Each act selected brought their own very special performance to each tent, making for a strong collective of very talented artists, that only a festival like this could bring together. There were two tents, ‘All the Little Lights’ stage and the ‘Main’ Stage. Each stage taking it in turns to provide the music. A great way to encourage continuous revolvement around the grounds, throughout the event.

Here is a little about each talented artist in order of their performance;

‘Loughshore Adult Choir’ & ‘Moira Primary School Festival Singers’: More info here.

‘Tuskany’: More info here.

‘Bernadette Morris’: A lovely lively pleasant set from Bernadette, who opened my Moira Calling experience this year. Check out her music BernadetteMorrisMusic

‘Peter J McCauley’: Over on the main stage with the backdrop of lights and smoke Peter reminded me of a Gavin James as he played his music solo but with keyboard. Really pleasantly surprised by his music check him out peterjmccauley

‘Vokxen’: How refreshing to hear a very cohesive set from this three-piece female band. Check them out on Facebook

‘Rews’: A powerful set from this two pieall-girlirl band. Making waves from the main stage at this year’s Moira Festival. wearerewsmusic

‘Runabay’: A really enjoyable set from this band who hail from County Antrim. Find out more

‘The Led Farmers’: Definitely my festival favourite this year. I’m not particularly a lover of Folk or Trad, but this band knocked it out of the park! From farmers who look smart in white shirts to a banjo band playing The Doors, Nirvana and even my favourite guilty pleasure ‘Barbie Girl’. You can find out more here

‘Owen Denvir’: First time seeing Owen live was even more enjoyable by the presence of his band including the already featured Peter J McCauley. This was a fantastic set and I particularly enjoyed my favourite song ‘Green Lights’

‘Hunk Papa’: As described by their bio ‘Four eccentrics from Armagh specialising in anthemic bangers’. I couldn’t have said it better to be honest. It was a wild set on the main stage. HunkpapaMusic

‘Beauty Sleep’: An interesting set again from a band featuring two female musicians in its make-up. Also, it was brilliant to see women at the forefront of a festival this year. BeautySleepTheBand

‘Joshua Burnside’: A mesmerising set from Joshua who I had previously seen live when he won the NI Music Prize in 2017. I watched in awe at his expert delivery of his award winning music. A star in waiting. Burnside.Music‘Jordan Adetunji’: There was huge anticipation from all there for this music set. It was interesting and yet another sign that Hip Hop, Rap mixed with RnB are headlining more and more in the music scene. Although I am not personally a huge fan of this genre/s, the draw here was his enigmatic stage energy. jordanadetunji

‘Marsicans’: Closing this year’s festival on the main stage to a crowd dancing was this English band from Leeds. Young and vibrant musicians featuring their well-received new single ‘Suburbs’.

The event itself was well supported by many local sponsors and county councils, which with undoubtedly made this event the best to its potential, for this still – very young festival. 

Big thanks to the organisers for inviting me along to their fantastic showcase festival. And yes this is probably how Electric Picnic started before it became the monster of all festivals that it is today. But please stay as small and rustic as you can for now as you are special indeed.

Written by: Tracey Hanby Music Promoter & Broadcaster

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