By Mónica Franco
Wednesday at San Miguel Primavera Sound - one of the warm-ups for the main festival - has always been a more or less avoidable day within the festivities. However, with the supposed logistical and qualitative leap in its tenth year, we can now safely assume that we need to start mid-week. Leave your office early - the beautiful main square of the Poble Espanyol was too small for everyone - around nine in the evening, the “full” sign appeared at the gates of the venue. The cause lay in the line-up. Echo & The Bunnymen - who were only scheduled to play last night - got the veterans crowding the recovered venue, alongside a new generation. Young kids mixed affably with white-haired foxes. The diverse audience - and the architectural charm of the place - made for a pleasant atmosphere, similar to a traditional Spanish village carnival.
Imagine the scene: a sunny afternoon in May, a nice Mediterranean temperature, hubbub, greeting friends and acquaintances, smiles all round, trips to the bar for beers and - in the background - Las Robertas on stage, playing their attractive music. Combining a feminine sweetness of melody with a forthcoming garage sound, the Costa Rican band animated the afternoon, without disrupting the magical atmosphere. They were preceded by another female band, Nisennenmondai. Although the formalities at the entrance meant we missed them, we heard the early birds were convinced. By Comet Gain’s turn, the shadows were cooling the venue and the beer was doing its work in the heads of the attendees. The Britons perfectly captured the magic of the moment, joining the indie party led by David Feck - who encouraged the audience to consume merchandise, chips and condoms between songs. But the queen of the stage was Rachel Evans. The singer was the only one on stage without an instrument - but used her hands and punk karaoke voice to animate the punters: just watching her was fun.
By eight o’clock, the festive mood had calmed. The hour of Echo & The Bunnymen was fast approaching; a kind of contained euphoria gripped the crowd. Eyes broke from conversations - looking to the stage – until, finally, Ian McCulloch and his band arrived on stage in khaki uniforms. The program promised an integral version of their first two albums, “Heaven Up Here” and “Crocodiles”. The band took this literally. They were meticulous, both in regards to the track list and the technical details. Moments into the set, McCulloch was ordering technical staff to make his voice crown the sound. A voice un-touched by time – it dominated - reigning over the near two hour concert. The sound was extremely clean: the guitars in litany, the bass removing the dust from our fringes. The post-punk revival returned many to their youth for 90 minutes (particularly the huge British contingent, many of whom were over 40). The younger present were equally enthused - encouraged by the head movements of their elders, swept up in the essence of 1980’s Manchester. The light show further enhanced the mood, to such an extent that it was almost a pity it was still light when the concert began.
Depositions and liquid repositions were needed for the final part of the night. Dan Snaith - as Caribou - played Barcelona once again. It wouldn’t matter if he were your roommate, a cousin or a neighbour: you would still happily watch him daily. To see Caribou is always a pleasure - a hopeful, vibrant and invigorating event. Snaith doesn’t care if the stage is five meters wide or a hundred. The man and his musicians look at each other: connecting and coordinating voices, guitars, machines and percussion with robotic precision. Last night there was an exquisite light show to accompany them, a kaleidoscope projected on the background screen. The crowd danced at times – during “Sun” and “Hannibal” for example – and let themselves be smoothed by the sensuality of other moments. “Jamelia” in particular, elevated the collective spirit. “Odessa” completed the night, leaving an audience in fervour. It woke our appetite - like a teaser for the coming three days. They promise to be exhausting physically, yet comforting spiritually. Good vibes and an omen: the best is yet to come. PlayGround is a media partner of San Miguel Primavera Sound Before the musical feast at the Fòrum in Barcelona, San Miguel Primavera Sound offered an appetiser at the Poble Espanyol yesterday - with performances by Echo & The Bunnymen, Comet Gain, Caribou and Las Robertas. We were there and this is what happened.
Echo & The Bunnymen