Arcade Fire are completely spell bounding on last day of Benicassim

Festival Internacional de Benicassim 2011 review

published: Tue 26th Jul 2011

Arcade Fire

Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011
near Valencia, Spain, Spain
£165 for 4-days (only no camping available)
last updated: Fri 1st Jul 2011

The Joy Formidable
I'm a big fan of The Joy Formidable, and I've seen them live more times live than I can even recall. Every time, they're more enjoyable and seem to come on leaps and bounds as a live act. Their set at Benicassim, their first in Spain, was very well attended and saw the band at the tightest that I've ever seen them. But, they've been playing the exact same set for what seems like an age. Same songs, same order. It's starting to become slightly tedious. They did perform a handful of new tracks, but ones which were debuted as early as last year, their set still needs a bit of freshening up. Songs like Whirring, the sprightly pop single from their album The Big Roar, has been re worked to include a lengthy, accelerated coda, with clashing drums and bass, which is very impressive live. It's like having the Megadeth drummer playing on a My Bloody Valentine record, it's really very good. It's easy to appreciate the band's passion, vigour and pop smarts, especially on the excellent Austere, which saw a big audience sing a long, but from the audience, incessant calls from the band to "Come On!" and get involved, get more than a little tedious.

Veronica Falls
On the complete opposite of the spectrum in this regard come London 4-piece, Veronica Falls. With little audience interaction bar the odd little muffled thank you, the band do what they came to do, play dark, Mary Chain styled pop in the basking heat. The hype surrounding the band is continuing to build as the band prepare to release their debut album in October. The C86 revivalists are dark and sullen, but in all the right ways. The girls pretty, mysterious, and the combination with the dual male vocals makes a delight of all the melodies. The track which perhaps sums the band up best is Beachy Head, a real surf styled track, able to demonstrate the band Beach Boys style harmonies and Mary Chain styled guitar. Noisy and rash meeting pop melodies. It's a tried and tested method, but one that produces results. Live, they're able to demonstrate this as it should be done. Not polished, and even louder than on record, a real highlight of the festival.

Portishead
Portishead are one of those bands that I never thought I'd get the chance to see live, so upon their announcement, the little girl inside of me let out a little squeak. When Geoff Barrow & co. released Third back in 2008, it quickly became clear that Portishead hadn't lost any of their talent, even after an 11 year wait. Trip-hop still remains popular 10 years on, and for myself, who wasn't able to enjoy the first time round, can enjoy it in all it's glory this time round. It's unfortunate to say that Barrow really didn't seemed that fussed to be on stage, maybe it was the late night, maybe it was the festival, but he lacked a smile throughout. However, this was made up by the presence of Gibbons, and her mightily impressive vocals, especially live. She possesses a voice that is unable to stick to just one musical setting. She's incredibly durable, and that's perhaps the best thing about Portishead, the fact that really, underneath it all, they're from an unclassifiable genre. The mechanical stop-starts of Machine Gun sound even better live, and as we reach the likes of the now seemingly classic Glory Box and Sour Times, Portishead have seemingly set them up as a classic band. Not showing their age however, it's their musical talent, and ability to transcend their music live that really endears Portishead.

Perhaps one of the most fun bands to see live is The Go! Team. Returning this year with their superb third album, Rolling Blackouts, it's safe to say that the band have lost none of their energy, exuberance and ultimately joy at playing live. Two drummers, combining with live instruments and cut-and-paste samples produce an excellent stage sound, and as each member jumps around the stage like nobody I've ever witnessed. It's this gusto that makes them an easily accessible, enjoyable band for fans of the band, and also casual festival attendees. It's easy for these to gain a whole host of new fans at each festival they do. As latest single TORNADO opens the set with a whole host of torrential blitzkrieg of horns, to which lead singer MC Ninja seems to loose a battle against, but it's the older songs like Grip Like A Vice and The Power Is On, with their energetic drums, 80s dance style bass lines and superb melodies that remind us all why we fell in love with the band in the first place.

Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire never do anything by half. Everything's grand, in both and sound in performance for the band. Opening their set with a short cinematic film setting up the band's headline set. With the stage set up like the outside of an old American cinema theatre, the stage is set for the band, and my, how the impress. Opening with Ready to Start from their new album, the band race through a proper festival set. Grandiose, full of hits; perfect for the big stage, and perfect for closing Benicassim 2011. Throughout the set it seems as if the music is aiming to build to a monumental peak for it's closure, and as the band launch into Rebellion (Lies), Arcade Fire reaffirm themselves as the biggest guitar band in the world right now. It's easy to see why, the talent is impeccable, and each live show they undertake, they play as if it's their last.

Tinie Tempah
Whilst the band played on the main stage, Tinie Tempah was playing on one of the smaller stages. A quick dash over, and Tempah displays an excellent performance. Working the crowd, and as the electro hip-hop strains of big singles such as Pass Out and Frisky, it's really impressive to watch.

But it's hard to keep away from Arcade Fire. They're completely spell bounding.
review by: Anthony Hetherington

photos by: Charlene Carr

Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th July 2011
near Valencia, Spain, Spain
£165 for 4-days (only no camping available)
last updated: Fri 1st Jul 2011


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