The hottest day at Primavera yet and sunshine has us kicking and screaming away from €2 Sangria and onto this whole band-watching nonsense. It pays off as Michael Rother’s Neu! set is Krautrock heaven. Given the rarity of such an appearance though, it’s a surprise that the turnout isn’t a bit bigger.
Oh, but that’ll be because Atlas Sound has a massive crowd over at the Pitchfork stage. The adoration from the onlookers is heart-warming and, perhaps wrongly, a surprise. Latest record Logos is aired in near entirety and Bradford Cox looks like he’s having fun onstage too. Someone screams out “Where are Deerhunter?” “Who cares?” another punter replies.
The Slits however are horrible. Ari Up’s destroying of a band’s legacy in one swoop is heartbreaking, and when she tells us she’s concerned about her children in Jamaica, the confused audience choose to cheer out of the sheer awkwardness of it all. Oh dear.
Grizzly Bear come as some sweet relief on the huge Ray Ban stage. Although album highlights such as Two Weeks fall slightly flat in the sparse surroundings, Southern Point and Hold Still are glorious and the harmonising of Ed Droste and Chris Taylor is still devastatingly powerful. However this was perhaps a set for the auditorium.
There have been few surprises thus far at Primavera. All bands expected to be awesome have been so but that was before Matt & Kim unexpectedly deliver one of the sets of the festival. Just a two-piece drums and guitar ensemble, they demand the crowd to get into the party spirit. A cover of The Final Countdown would be deemed as crass in other circumstances but Matt and Kim manage to capture the mood perfectly and send everyone into a frenzy. The cover of Alice Deejay‘s late ’90s club classic Better Off Alone is less recognisable but none the less jubilant. A triumph.
The dance party continues at the ATP stage where NYC post-punk legends Liquid Liquid play a rare set. Straight from the off the ageing heroes, it is clear, are here to bring the party. Optimo gets the biggest cheer of the weekend with even Tim Harrington rushing on to the stage to encourage industry bores at the side of it to get their groove on (they don’t). Cavern still sounds as vital as we assume it was on 1980s dancefloors.
Headliners Pet Shop Boys dish out the greatest hits set to end all greatest hits sets. What Have I Done to Deserve This, complete with video Dusty Springfield? Check. It’s a Sin? Check. Robotic heads? You get the idea. Neil Tennant, though saying very little, manages to cram more charisma, not to mention costume changes, into one hour then every other band performing this weekend combined while playing to the biggest crowd of the weekend. A victorious win.
It’s now 3am and there’s the painful late night electro choice of The Field or Orbital. The Hartnoll brothers win and get things off from the get go with the playful Satan. The duo decide to go for some less familiar tracks from their hefty back catalogue (no Belfast or Theme tonight) but Chime is still fantastic and the mash-up of Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi needed to be seen to be believed. Only 55 minutes in and they’re gone, sans encore.
Aside from reports of some dancing at the ATP stage dancing till past 7am, that brings the end of another stellar edition of Primavera Sound. Its popularity is clearly growing and the slight price increases have not gone unnoticed, but as long as line-ups continue to be as inconceivable as this one, people will continue to flock from across the globe for this Spanish extravaganza.