Bastille and Friendly Fires have fun at Citadel 2019

The London one-dayer pits indie darlings against fuzzy pigs.

There aren’t many festivals where the appearance of Peppa Pig threatens to be the big winner in a three-way clash between two bands as exciting as Dream Wife and The Murder Capital, and one furry little oinker. But then Citadel is a bit different, after all.

Billed as ‘family friendly’, this year sees two Dork faves dumping lorry-loads of bangers all over the Main Stage, while Ireland stages its own mini-invasion with a procession of hype bands arriving from over the sea.

Like an East London hipster in a Hawaiian shirt, Friendly Fires are pretty much everything summer is about. Returning this summer after an eight-year gap with ‘Inflorescent’, St Albans’ greatest indie popsters take no time to ‘warm’ things up. ‘Lovesick’ and ‘Jump In The Pool’ are bops of the highest order, but it’s the new material that is the most interesting.

‘Silhouettes’ struts in wearing shiny new disco boots, that ba-ba-ba-ba-ba refrain wriggling into ears all across the park. Ed is all lunges and leaps, getting in early in the race to ‘out-do’ Bastille Dan in the athletic stakes. With the new material fitting in nicely with the old, Friendly Fires re-establish themselves as the band you want, slash need, to get a sleepy festival partying into the evening.

Giving another chance to glimpse the evolution of ‘Doom Days’ (on proper actual Bastille Day, French history fans!), if Bastille’s tour earlier this year sketched out the initial plans for what was in birthday boy Dan Smith’s mind, now it is starting to be upgraded and appears today in full vivid colour. Whether he’s perched up a stepladder, leaping deep into the crowd or spinning on a turntable, today is a full-on energy burst.

Shortened somewhat, naturally due to the format, Bastille’s three-act performance still contains all the same peaks as their regular show, only here they are heightened and turbo-charged. Peppered throughout are the bangers, to bring the casuals into the same party as the die-hards. And what bangers they are. Feeling very much like a dry run for one of the ‘big’ festival headline slots, Bastille are storming again.

Words: Jamie MacMillan

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