Live Music + Gig Reviews

Benicassim Festival @ Benicassim – Day 4

20 July 2007

For those about to rock, Benicassim salutes you. Not one act said that during the final night of the festival. Not one.

But the important thing is, they could have. The situation was perfectly primed for it, as the curtain was brought down on FIB 13 with the most guitar oriented bill we’d seen over the past few days. But while the air may have hung heavy with testosterone and six strings, there there was still room for one woman and her beehive.

So it was an on time, underweight and dangerously close to sober Amy Winehouse who took to the stage first. The Camden songstress was excellent, dipping into both of her albums with soulful aplomb. Ironically, the end of her set brought innumerable sighs of disappointment that she had failed to provide us with any sort of paralytic entertainment. Some people are never satisfied.

Some people still like The Hives. Who can talk the talk, there’s no doubt. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s inter-song shtick is still really funny, in a delusional, supervillian, “Fools, I will kill you all!”, kind of way. The walk though, the walk is sooooo 2003. Haven’t they heard of growth? Maybe they need to sit down and have a talk to the Kings Of Leon, who have demonstrated ample amounts of the stuff in a similar timespan.

As the beards have got shorter the albums have got better. Of course now, they’re clean shaven, which leaves little room for manoeuvre. Anyway, the Followills were an unmitigated success. Appearing utterly delighted at the crowd response, apologising for not speaking any Spanish on stage and blowing through their set with absolute panache it was a rootin’, tootin’, hard-shootin’ performance of some distinction. And while it’s an accusation oft leveled erroneously, oft leveled irrelevantly, of all bands, they do look fucking great.

Looking less ‘great’ and slightly more like they’d been on the wrong side of a particularly rough bullfight, the ever bedraggled Black Rebel Motorcycle Club suffered badly due to sound issues. They’re a band who need fuzz on their PA and feedback through their speakers, but when it comes at the expense of any sort of vocal definition, then señor, you’ve got problems.

Eventually, they got it all sorted, just in time for a scuzzy trek through the proggy excesses of American X. A song with a guitar solo so long that Robert Been had to lean against the front stage half way through it to give himself some respite. However its epic nature did set the scene perfectly for what was to come next.

Muse. Muse walked off with Benicassim without breaking a sweat, which is not an easy thing to do in a part of the world where even a spot of light origami causes buckets of perspiration.

As boring and predictable and on message as it is to say it, the Muse live experience really is something else. Like that they made every single memory of the festival pale into insignificance.

Be it the graphics of Knights Of Cydonia coming at you from either side of the stage like broken bottles in an East End pub brawl while the guitars pummel you front dead-centre, or the Prince bathing in the Sea Of Tranquility liquid funk of Supermassive Black Hole, or especially the crowd uniting, make the earth shift on its axis stomping, frenzied singalong of Time Is Running Out, Muse were an operatic, grandiose, monumental thing; retina scorching, brain scrambling, ear destroying.

An hour and a half later when they down weapons and wander off the murmurings go something like: “Did you see that?! Did you see that?!?” and “Bugger me, the drummer is wearing skinny green trousers…”

So it came to UNKLE to try and top that. And they, uh, didn’t. Ninety percent of the crowd hadn’t moved, but that was probably more to do with the fact they were trying to get synapses firing in vaguely the right direction after what had just occured than any great desire to hear Lavelle’s mob.

So Benicassim ends, with a bang followed by a whimper, but absolutely no mention of mud, wellies or ponchos. Sun, sea, sand and music. That’s always been a pretty heady combination and will most likely always continue to be. So pero tengo el burro mi amigos, and we’ll see you on the beach next year…

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