17 Jun 2012

Part Two of our epic three day trip to Spain's Primavera festival 

 With hangovers vaguely placated/subdued by the sheer beauty and brightness of the Barcelonian skies, we clamber towards the Auditori venue, which sits outside the main festival grounds.

The Auditori is a futuristically designed, formal, seated theatre space, which plays host to some of the weekend’s more intimate performers. Frankly, it’s great to have a sit down.

'Hello, my name is Laura and it's very nice to be here,’ smiles LAURA MARLING, before vaguely wincing. ‘It's very hot.' 

She's growing before our eyes (not literally, that’d be strange) – donning a long, black elegant dress. The only giveaway that Laura’s still a prodigiously young talent is her footwear - a pair of scruffy Nike trainers.

And the modernist, grandiose Auditori is a befitting environment for this rollicking collection of moody, American-tinged newer repertoire (courtesy of her ‘A Creature I Do Not Know’ LP, doused as it is in cello, double bass, banjo, Pete Roe's impeccable honky tonky piano and intricately enveloping percussion). Laura’s five-piece backing band horseshoes around her onstage, keeping the focus on the girl in the middle, whose talent is as tear-inducingly beautiful and affecting as it’s ever been.
[Laura Marling]

Laura’s delivery of older material is now more weary and resigned than previously witnessed; her first LP songs - ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ - sounds less adolescent, more world-worn, and better for it. Today, seeing Marling evolve is a pleasure, and a privilege.

Tragically, we then get booted out of the venue (due to a perplexing queuing and entry system) and miss a rare turn from Neutral Milk Hotel’s JEFF MANGUM (balls– well, there’s always tomorrow’s second play), although are soon rescued by a brief chat with the sadonic prince of folk himself, Josh T Pearson, fully clad and defiant in black despite the blazing sun. Hero. He doesn't know what time it is, or indeed what's generally going on, so we leave him to it.

Another inappropriately 'daylight' act follows (yet at least he’s befittingly titled considering our seaside geography), DIRTY BEACHES should surely solely exist in a seedy Club Silencio setting to befit his brooding, Lynch-ian compulsions. 

[Dirty Beaches]

Armed with one backing guitarist, and a paltry drum track, immediate swaths of chilling feedback and doom notes flood the PA and a decent turn-out looks on in stoned appreciation. His vocals and lyrics are reverby hell hymns, nestling all the while against that insular backing track. It's just a little bit nasty/chilling/unpleasant. Industrial and dark enough to keep the metallers' attention, and nasty enough to piss off the hipsters, we're pretty happy.

Back to some proper, old-fashioned, song-based fare once again. A seemingly rejuvenated RUFUS WAINWRIGHT is out to please, and he's one sax-y MF today.

Classic, soulful big band tunesmanship, ridiculous trousers and a setting sun provide an idyllic accompaniment to his huge-throated pop balladry, of which many classics are wheeled out (‘The One You Love’, ‘The Art Teacher’) – not least many tunes from his (misleadingly titled) ‘Out of the Game’ album. A rare man whose creative future is as appealing a prospect as what preceded and informed it. 

[Rufus Wainwright] 

Then, HARVEY MILK. In short, best described as slow f**king, horrible horror. Male groaning over expansive classical anthems and torrid, Todd Trainer-y drums. Sparse, wally-ish, hilarious, and just a bit angry.

Then the hipster metallers’ prime choice LITURGY welcome us into their own lair of nastiness. Of course, they have fired their drummer, so we’re subjected to a crappy drum machine amidst their fantastically enthralling thrash guitar.

One is dressed in white, one is clad in black. It’s cute. One even plays a headless guitar(!!!).

Smoke soon fills everywhere and vocally, it’s constant, incomprehensible wailing throughout.

Suffice to say, we bloody love it.


THE CURE. Their name brandished on the kick drum as if no one knew, their eight-day performance is as sleekly elegiac and romantic as anyone would hope for. 

And it’s a faithful, beautiful show - the jangling guitars and chugging rhythms sound the same as the day they were recorded, singer Robert Smith the gentle showman that guides us through his legacy with humility and enthusiasm throughout.

As the next three hours will attest, their set is so packed with hits, Barcelona cannot breathe. ‘Pictures of You’, ‘A Forest’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘The Caterpillar’, ‘In Between Days’, ‘Lovesong’, ‘Just Like Heaven’, ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’, even‘Friday I’m In Love’, let alone multiple encores which soon bear career-peak fruits such as ‘Close To Me’, ‘The Lovecats’, and a set-ending, crowd shout-a-long ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Like so few others, they can captivate for a long period of time.

[The Cure] 

Although we don’t learn much new tonight about The Cure – despite one triumphant debut of a song, ‘Just One Kiss’, from decades past (1982) – what it does do is successfully seal their status as one of the greatest, most inspiring pop bands, simply, of all time. And surely, that’s more than enough.

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