Friday, May 12, 2017

Charlatans And Chambao: Mallorca's Festival

Mallorca doesn't have music festivals. Not the type of music festival, that is, which we associate with the likes of Glastonbury. That festival, gentrified out of all recognition, was a product of the Woodstock era. I remember it well. My first venture forth into the world of the festival was in a field belonging to farmer Ted Askey. It was known as Hollywood but was nothing like Hollywood. I was fourteen. The Grateful Dead performed in the UK for the first time. I was lucky to have survived the weekend without having contracted hypothermia. Happy days.

There are different types of festival in Mallorca. Typically, they can last for weeks. Deya's International Music Festival, which started last week, goes on for months: a concert most Thursdays at the marvellous Son Marroig. Refined it is, classical it is; Ted Askey's farm it most certainly is not. Another, Pollensa's, is shorter - throughout August - but is equally civilised. The classical world locates itself in the cloister of the Sant Domingo Convent.

Because of the time they take and because also of the style of music, these are not festivals in the grand tradition of muddy fields of an English summer. On mainland Spain, there are such events. Benicàssim is probably the prime example. To be held from 13 to 16 July, this year's acts feature Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kasabian, Foals, Deadmau5, Biffy Clyro, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Liam Gallagher. That's what one calls a proper festival line-up. And there's little possibility of any hypothermia or indeed mud.

The Mallorca Live Festival, to be held at the old Aquapark in Magalluf, is about as close as it gets. Two evenings/nights over this weekend and with no camping-out overnight, it may not strictly speaking conform to the criteria for the genuine festival, but let's not quibble too much. There is at least a festival.

One thing that festivals reveal is how enduring groups are. Or how often they re-form and revive. It wasn't a festival, but the lamented Mallorca Rocks Hotel used to do this. New Order, Madness: names almost ancient turned up in Magalluf. This weekend's festival takes us back to the days of Madchester. Although they weren't from Manchester (Tim Burgess was originally from Salford, it might be noted, however), The Charlatans were bracketed with that era. In their current incarnation, they'll be performing material from their new album, Different Days. It has a distinct nod in the direction of Manchester and the Hacienda. The Smiths' Johnny Marr features, as does New Order's Stephen Morris. There again, so also does Paul Weller: Woking was certainly not Manchester.

While The Charlatans and Placebo, who sort of reinvented glam in the 1990s, will have UK indie lovers salivating, the Spanish contingent shouldn't be overlooked. Most notable among the domestic acts, where I'm concerned, is Chambao. If the name means nothing, it may be that you can recall a promotional advert for Andalusian tourism. It was a vibrant and startling video. The music came from Chambao. The song was Ahí Estás Tú, which is arguably what the group is still best known for.

The group has undergone changes over the years. Singer Lamari, who has fought cancer, is the only survivor from the original line-up of a group which did more than perhaps any other to define "flamenco chill". They did so to such an extent that Sony's first Flamenco Chill compilation featured them heavily. The second compilation is the better known. Chambao were on that as well, as also were the Fundación Eivissa, a DJ/producer duo, associated with the club scene as much as with chill. The two teamed up on occasion. The strings remix of Chambao's Verde Mar was and remains an astonishingly powerful crossover of flamenco chill, folk and electronica.

So, Mallorca has its festival. It may not be in the grand tradition, but it is certainly welcomed. One day maybe there will be one, though where it might be held is a question. And also when it might be held. An oddity about this weekend's festival is that one of the two stages is called Stage Mallorca Better in Winter, presumably a promo for the Balearic government's campaign. Winter doesn't quite hack it where a festival is concerned. The other stage, Sol House, does.

No comments: