Live music - Primavera Sound Festival

Parc Del Forum, Barcelona

For an Irish festival-goer, used to clamouring into a clammy big top not to see a set by a hyped newcomer but to hide from the latest downpour, Primavera Sound may well sound otherworldly.

Set in the sprawling Parc Del Forum, on the east of Barcelona, against a brilliant blue sea bedecked with yachts, it’s a little more picturesque than a muddy field in the midlands — and it’s 20C-plus every day.

Solange is the big draw on day one of the three-day festival, which attracts over 150,000 in total and runs through till 6am.

 

It’s her first European show since the release of last year’s staggering album, A Seat at the Table. And the gig feels momentous, full of primary colours, conga lines, and a beaming cultural icon.

‘FUBU’ is a show-stopper and while some older fans may have been satisfied to hear ‘Losing You’, the 2012 indie pop minor anthem sounds dated compared to her latest work.

With growing claims that festivals are running out of headliners, it’s refreshing to see Mac Demarco rise to the occasion. It’s a fun 70-minute show — one which the drummer plays completely butt-naked — that gives Demarco, a laid-back summer-breeze of a singer/guitarist, a chance to ease into proceedings and win over the crowd.

By the time he’s stripped down to a thong, new devotees whopping their approval, it’s mission accomplished. Welcome to the main stage, Mac.

Grace Jones won the anthem of the weekend accolade for a riotous ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’, but it’s Kate Tempest who put in the performance of the festival.

The Londoner is many things already — performance poet, novelist, Shakespeare adapter — and for her 45-minute slot, she assumes the role of political activist.

Surrounded by a trio of keyboardists and beatmakers of whom James Blake would be proud, Tempest spits, rhymes, and rails against the travails of modern life, weaving an engaging story into the tracklist.

Her monologuing riposte of ‘Europe is Lost’ is immense, silencing a tipsy crowd and leaving them hanging on her every essential word.

She may well be the most important artist this festival season — one which Primavera gets off to a great start once again.


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