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The National kick off their 'Sleep Well Beast' tour to a sold out Cork Opera House as part of Sounds from a Safe Harbour. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan
The National kick off their 'Sleep Well Beast' tour to a sold out Cork Opera House as part of Sounds from a Safe Harbour. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan
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Music fans flock to Cork for Sounds from a Safe Harbour festival

LAST weekend's Sounds from a Safe Harbour has been hailed as a resounding success, with plaudits flooding in for organisers and performers alike.

It was the second edition of the festival. which was coordinated by former Opera House CEO Mary Hickson and Bryce Dessner of American indie rock band the National. Playrite Enda Walsh and Cork's own Cillian Murphy also lent their talents to the festival, which saw dozens of performances take place throughout the city centre.

For Hickson, it is the latest success in an impressive career after she turned around the fortunes of a struggling Opera House and has gone on to coordinate a number of unique and exciting festivals in Ireland and abroad.

Her reputation is growing, with headline performers and collaborators taking the time to thank her personally during busy sets.

Sounds from a Safe Harbour 2017 all culminated in Saturday night's headline concert by the National at Cork Opera House.

It was the third of three sold out performances at the city venue, following Lisa Hannigan (Thursday) and Bon Iver (Friday).

Reviews for all three were overwhelmingly positive, with audiences left speechless after the National were joined on stage by Hannigan and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver for a standout show as the band launched their new album, 'Sleep Well Beast.'

For Vernon, it was merely the latest appearance in a hectic weekend which saw him perform at St Luke's Church under the guise of his Big Red Machine side project. He also took the time to host a stunning intimate performance at the CIT School of Music where he and Bon Iver bandmates Sean Carey and Michael Lewis performed stripped back versions of many of their best known songs.

Vernon and Carey shared vocal duties, performing on a unique double piano.

Several unique events during the day kept people occupied, including Crash Ensemble's performance on Spike Island, and Ear Den, a unique series of six surprise concerts in the Rearden's complex.

Fans were treated to up close and personal gigs from Lisa Hannigan, Jack O'Rourke, Rusangano Family and David Kitt, amongst others.

In addition, music blogger Niall Byrne had organised a free music trail throughout the city, with the likes of Wyvern Lingo and Talos performing surprise gigs at the Crane Lane. Dozens of other gigs took place throughout the city, with the likes of Bantum, Sorcha Richardson, New Jackson and Autre Monde all impressing.

The festival finally came to a close on Sunday, with the likes of Saint Sister, Peter Broderick and Ships keeping people occupied as the weekend wound down.

For fans of the National and Bon Iver, it was a very rare opportunity to see such acts in such intimate venues, while for others, it was simply a chance to discover something new.

The last edition of the festival took place in 2015, with similar events popping up in Berlin and Copenhagen since. Leesiders will be hoping that it won't be as long a wait again for the next edition of what has rapidly become one of the music unique and exciting elements of the city's music calendar.