Spraoi 2007: Back in the saddle

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. The stages have come down, the crowds have dwindled and the goblins and ghouls (or rather cowboys and Indians) have returned to the depths from whence they came. Yes, the Spraoi festival, for another year, has come to an end.

For the past 15 years, the August bank weekend has shone brightly in the minds of the Waterford people as a simultaneous effigy of relaxation and unbridled summer mayhem, sporting such luminous acts as The Royal Drummers of Burundi (2006), Transe Express with their spectacular Les Maudits Sonnants (2005) and the immensely popular Norwegian a cappella group Apes & Babes (2003).

With such an illustrious history to live up to, it would be easy for the Spraoi festival to become stale – its glory days fading into nothing more than niggling nostalgia. No such danger! After 15 years of pandemonium the weekend was as fresh as ever. Musical acts as diverse as England’s Dynamo Rhythm Aces with their Cajun-blues renditions of everything from T-Rex to the Beastie Boys and the spectacular Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain brought the people out in their droves, while Avanti’s The Stormbringer, a unique interpretation of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, filled the Lombard Street car-park not once, but twice over the course of the festival. The spectacular Havana Son brought the sounds and moves of salsa to John Roberts’ Square while the Baghdaddies treated us all with their incomparable mix of ska, jazz, klezmer and middle-eastern folk music.

In the midst of such draws, it would be easy to forget the local talent on show over the weekend. Friday and Saturday afternoons saw the Millennium Plaza jam-packed with the very best that Waterford has to offer. Variety was the order of the day as Floyd Soul and the Wolf blended elements of Neil Young and Horslips, and National Student Music Award winners Saviours of Space brought everything from reggae to gypsy jazz to the equation. Ilya K provided a spectacular end to Friday’s festivities while Saturday saw the return from Liverpool of local legends Gorbachov.

As always, the spectacular finale to the weekend rolled into town on Sunday night in the shape of the annual Spraoi parade. Spirits were already soaring in the aftermath of Waterford’s breathtaking win over Cork and the parade, entitled ‘YEE-HAW!!!’, captured the feelings of the Waterford people perfectly. Madness and mayhem struck as the streets of Waterford, for a brief period, took on the guise of the Wild West – overturned and overrun by the most manic crew of cowboys and Indians to ever see the light of day.

A walk through the streets of Waterford on the morning of a bank Monday can be quite disorientating at the best of times and that goes double for the aftermath of a Spraoi weekend. Is it really just a few short hours ago since the streets were filled with crooks and cowboys, puritans and pilgrims, bandits and brigands – and that was just the crowd returning home after the match!! Hearty congratulations to all at Waterford Spraoi for yet another job well doneā€¦here’s looking forward to next year!

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