Live Music + Gig Reviews

Benicassim Festival @ Benicassim – Day 3

20 July 2007

Saturday, the lights went out on Benicassim. Irate residents? Evil vermin? Or maybe, just someone who didn’t much care for Albert Hammond Jr.

Unless it was a worried Julian Casablancas seeing the possibility of another Strokes album inch every so slightly further away from him, the later seems unlikely. Because the shaggy-haired one was great. Half a set of blissful summer acoustica plus half a set of hot licks of melodic garage rock fusion equals lots and lots of fun.

Until the power went off anyway. And it was part way through his best song (Back To The 101), and it led to one of those slightly embarrassing interludes when the music ceases, but the musicians fail to realise their sound was falling shorter than Beth Ditto in a long jump competition. The impromptu slant into mime shouldn’t detract from the facts though, Hammond Jr. was immensely appealing.

Nor should it in any way hide the fact that CSS (the other band to be shuffled off due to electrical difficulties) couldn’t have been more one dimensional if they’d photocopied their performance and sent it in via fax.

!!! stole their helium gulping balloon trick and also stole their show. Forget Lovefoxx on her back. Nic Offer in his gym shorts dancing like a chicken: *that* is your false idol to worship on a neon altar. They’re a band who live take on another persona entirely; good on record, bafflingly spectacular on stage. What did they play? Who cares. Whatever it was was funkier than George Clinton holding a naked limbo competition in Studio 54 and more fun than throwing yourself into a swimming pool fully clothed. It also caused of at least one musicOMH staffer to dance like a youthful Bez.

Tonight’s headliners were, for the first time this weekend, in the first flush of youth. The Arctic Monkeys, who after their shaky Glastonbury performance, still had myriad questions surrounding whether they could step up to perform to this kind of crowd. And what a crowd. It seemed like everyone from southern Spain (and northern England) was here to see Sheffield’s greatest export since Jarvis Cocker driving a lorry load of steel. The Escenario Verde arena was flooded with a sea of bobbing heads.

Fortunately for all, step up the Monkeys most certainly did. Okay, they still don’t do anything in particular up there but Alex Turner has at least progressed from cowering behind his microphone to engage the crowd in some basic banter and offer some vague platitudes.

Besides, the songs are so good. No, really, you haven’t quite got it. The songs are really, really, really good. Fake Tales… and Dancing Shoes caused inter-crowd singing on a biblical scale, but it’s the newer ones from Favourite Worst Nightmare which really stand out. The visceral lyrical dropkick of Do Me A Favour stings like a slap across sunburnt cheeks, a rampaging Teddy Picker and a quite beautiful 505, all in a performance which showed without question the Arctics can headline bills like this. No scratch that, it shows they should be headlining bills like this.

Anyone remember electroclash? Well, it’s back. Like the most horrific one night stand you’ve ever had creeping back into your boudoir to rifle through your possessions and boil your rabbit, Fischerspooner have returned. A fact that none of us can be grateful for. Although amusingly for all, Casey Spooner does now look like the runner up in the 1978 Ms Ozzy Osbourne pageant.

Which should teach us an important lesson: while the sun, sea, sand and sangria may suggest otherwise, not all of your festival experiences may be happy ones. Tonight, we really should have left before the lights came on.

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