13 July, 2017

[FESTIVAL REVIEW] Mad Cool Festival @ Madrid, Spain, 6th - 8th July 2017.

As if the headliners for this year's Mad Cool Festival weren't enough to justify the ticket price, the strength carried on right the way down the lineup. Foo Fighters, Green Day and Kings of Leon were backed up wonderfully by the likes of Catfish & The Bottlemen, Manic Street Preachers, Foals, Alt-J, Foster the People, George Ezra and Wolf Alice to name but a few. I mean that's a line-up that a lot of UK festivals would kill for in just those. Throw in a handful more of big names that would draw hardened fans and you've got yourself a cracking recipe for a beautifully crafted festival.

For anyone who hasn't twigged on that dragging yourself overseas in order to see some of the best bands in the world could mean you save yourself a shed load of money and have an amazing experience in the same breath, let me dispell some myths and answer some questions I've heard a lot of over the years for you that may be putting you off; Firstly, the acts don't play shorter sets! Foos and Green Day were both pushing close to the three-hour mark and KOL nearing two hours. Non-headliners were all around 45 minutes to an hour like you'd expect. Secondly, the festivals don't usually start until early evening. I mean who wants to be going nuts at the height of the day in typically hot climates. This gives you plenty of time to explore the city you've found yourself in should the desire take you, or not I suppose if you went a bit too hard the night before. Thirdly, I have never found anyone who works at these festivals to be rude. Yes, they may laugh at my inability to speak their mother tongue but then who wouldn't chuckle at my northern efforts of pronouncing "Gracias" like "Grassy A**e"?

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Music review... got it... right, I'm probably going to scan past the headliners because as you can expect, they all smashed it. The stage for Foo's on the first night had broken screens and lights on either side because of a ridiculously heavy downpour of rain for a couple of hours that messed them up but that didn't stop the show from going on. The usual hit-ladened setlist was epic. As was KOL on the last night. Not a lot of interaction with the crowd but when they play tune after tune, who wants them to be chatty?!

For this piece, I'll pick out three highlights again that made the week for me in terms of who we listened to.

Up first, Manic Street Preachers! Quality never really goes away does it? The band had a bit of a joke saying that Gareth Bale told them Madrid was nice this time of year and then proceeded to knock out pretty much every big hit they have. Brilliantly executed but also one of those sets where as a self-professed, big hit only, fan of the Manics, at every other tune I was going, "Oh yeah! Forgot all about this song". Fell in love all over again with "If you tolerate this your children will be next". Good job chaps.


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Next, I have to go with Catfish & The Bottlemen. Their set was the typical play hard and keep going until the last chord of "Tyrants" but they just look like they love playing even more than the first time I saw them 4 years ago. Quite possibly the most difficult slot of the festival line-up, playing AFTER Foo Fighters! (Headliners over there aren't necessarily who closes the evening) but they kept a huge crowd with them right until the early hours of the morning. Their effort was top notch, as usual, loved it.

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And lastly, Alt-J. Arguably not the most energetic on stage and certainly not able to run around like nutters like most other bands because the members were divided up by strips of lights so they couldn't even interact with each other, but what they lack in mobility on stage they make up for in bucket loads with skill, ability and certainly an artistic light show to boot! "Fitzpleasure" hit me for six like it usually does anyway and new tunes "3WW" and "In Cold Blood" were brilliantly delivered to a massive crowd early on one evening. Already bought a ticket for one of their gigs later in the year since returning home.

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Awful phone photography as usual, my bad.

So Madrid unequivocally has a big piece of my affection now after a wonderful week away. Same time next year? Si por favor!

I've been to InMusic (Zagreb, Croatia), Nos Alive (Lisbon, Portugal) and now Mad Cool (Madrid, Spain) and would implore people to check out these and others around the world. If you want a more of a chat about any of these ones, some more helpful hints and tips maybe then hit me up... usual socials:

Jase Hare or @jasehare. Happy to help where I can?

Cheers for reading.