Christine and the Queens, James Blake and a gender-conscious roster were among the highpoints of Primavera Sound in Barcelona, writes Eoghan O'Sullivan.
The new normal – that was the maxim chosen by Primavera Sound festival to sell its 19th edition, held over the weekend in Barcelona, promising gender equality across its lineup.
It might not seem like something that needs crowing about but a cursory scan of many large-scale festivals show they skew shockingly male – hopefully this new normal is here to say. Primavera made a statement – and the acts backed it up.
Christine and the Queens on the opening night, as the sun set, was revelatory. “I’m tiny, I’m French, and I’m angry!” declared Héloïse Letissier.
A crew of dancers battled with the singer who in turn was wrestling with a loose red shirt throughout. Squint and you could mistake her moves for Michael Jackson.
‘Tilted’ is majestic, ‘iT’, the opener from second album Chaleur Humaine (“I’ve got it, I’m a man now”) is poignant – and it’s all just so much fun. Draped in the spotlight after being raised up on the rigging, Letissier looks like a superstar in waiting.
Pop music ruled at Parc Del Forum.
Rosalia played a triumphant hometown set – featuring a cameo from headliner James Blake on their Irish trad-sampling ‘Barefoot in the Park’; Carly Rae Jepson was banger after banger; Sigrid hit like a suckerpunch, despite some poor sound; Charli XCX was an exhausting ball of energy; and there were at least two covers of Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ heard over the weekend.
It’s not all perfect (though the weather most definitely is): Aldous Harding, responsible for one of the albums of the year, was sleep-inducing, while a by-the-numbers Solange and Janelle Monae never really hit their peaks.
Slowthai’s 4.15am set was maddeningly sporadic, the young rapper clad in just his underwear running offstage at one point to throw up.
Fka twigs is bidding to be the next Important artist. Her hour-long show – and it must definitely was a show – featured headpieces, fencing, and poledancing. It’s just a pity about the songs. A meandering return.
The aforementioned James Blake, almost sickeningly loved up on Assume Form, put on a simple but effective set that left many weak at the knees.
Sat at his keyboard, he doesn’t look like a headliner but he feels like one.
Alas there is no reciprocating Rosalia, though closing with the skittering ‘Don’t Miss It’, you realise that nobody quite gets to your heart like Blake. He sent everyone home on a lovebuzz.