Depeche Mode defies death on the first day of Primavera Sound in Madrid

You should not isolate a concert from its context. And at a festival, context is everything. Depeche Mode, some overwhelming stage animals, left the best of themselves this Friday at the Madrid edition of Primavera Sound. The festival had captured the passage through Spain of the great electronic pop group, on their tour of Memento Mori. There are fans who decided not to accept this deal and look for other dates in Europe where they could see the concert in better conditions; others accepted with more or less conformity the dish that was put on the table.

The Depeche Mode concert inserted in Primavera Sound loses five songs compared to any other on their tour. It is shorter, therefore, and of course it is much more expensive, especially if one is not interested in any other group of the day, which is not uncommon, since the lineup did not abound in proposals of the same, let’s say, rope . Except for Lebanon Hanover, perhaps, who played no less than at the extravagant 4:35 p.m., to which the duo, with obvious sarcasm throughout their performance, alluded to when they introduced themselves to the audience with a “good morning”.

Many of the fans who decided to accept the conditions and see their group in a field in no man’s land near Arganda del Rey, arrived angry, suffocated and running, as there was a desperate traffic jam at the entrance to the venue, as well as the queues to catch the buses that connected the venue with Madrid for free meant that the trip, which the organization estimated at 35 minutes, could last up to two and a half hours. Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s own group arrived late and their concert was delayed 45 minutes, without the screens announcing anything about it.

When cutting songs, especially those from the new album are dropped, so the set festival is more like a greatest hits concert than a performance of Memento Mori, a brilliant album that critics rate as the best since Playing The Angel, and in some cases above it. Gahan and Gore, accompanied by Christian Eigner (drums) and Peter Gordeno (keyboards), pay tribute to the missing member, the late Andy Fletcher, and to death in general, with this impeccable show, with a self-conscious message about the finiteness of life. life and the enjoyment of what we have left.

Depeche Mode is a group of liturgies, much more than others. Any follower knows what to do at key moments throughout the performance. And, if he doesn’t know it, all he has to do is look at the person next to him and let himself be carried away by the priest Gahan, who is directing the mass. Here are a few: chant the keyboard line at the end of Home, sung by Martin, even after it’s over, and will have to keep doing it until Dave comes back from behind the scenes and conducts the human orchestra, getting a fade out when I decide to end it asking for an applause for “mister Martin L. Gore”. If the latter had sung a second song, as he would outside the festival, probably his most devoted audience would have chanted his name; but tonight it didn’t happen. Another unavoidable moment of this dark mass occurs when the great black mass raises its arms to create a great undulating field of wheat in Never Let Me Down Again. And one more, which has already become a tribute to Fletcher, will be joining the hands in the form of feathered eyes (it is difficult to explain) during World In My Eyes, Fletch’s favorite and one of the most emotional moments of the night, with his (right) side of the stage empty and his youthful face projected onto the screens.

no mud

The venue where Primavera Sound 2023 was to be held was a quagmire last Wednesday. Two days later –reaction work by the organization and meteorological improvement through– Friday dawned sunny and only a few small drops fell at dawn. Having crossed all the doors, the immense City of Rock made it clear that music festivals are a kind of parallel universe in which different scenarios coexist and, at the same time, host shows completely different. In one it may be playing a formation like rockers The Mars Volta and in another, cylindrical in shape, bouncing as if it were a disco to the rhythm of the Uruguayan that mixes experimentation and electronics Lila Tirando a Violeta. Both are also surrounded by the sensation of being in an open-air shopping center, with clothing stores, jewelry, and stalls to get make-up and even tattoos. There are disparate restaurants with disparate menus including Argentine empanadas, pizza, burgers, tacos, and crepes.

Los looks of the attendees are also very different. Some even dare to go with stiletto-heeled boots, but above all sneakers and, as the night progresses, more and more sweatshirts. The public on Saturday is warned: in the afternoon it is very hot but at night the temperature drops suddenly. You need to jump to warm up. Even Kendrick Lamar himself noticed it, who in the middle of his performance chose to zip up the red jacket that he wore in his show.

There are groups of friends, generational mixes, couples and more than one “first time”, of course immortalized. On the lawn surrounding the Amazon stage where The Mars Volta performs, a mother takes a photograph of her six-year-old son to remember her festival-going debut. At the moment, yes, with earplugs. Meanwhile, Cedric Bixler-Zavala sings dressed in a black suit with his partner of more than 20 years, Omar Rodríguez-López. Both print a sound that at times emulates a space trip, with psychedelic and fun points. A camera mounted on top of a crane records the public that, every time it appears on the screens, it comes higher than with the chorus of more than one song.

Depeche Mode and Kendrick Lamar managed to congregate the largest number of people around the two main twin stages, finally allowing the warmth of a festival to be felt, despite the fact that, in general, the feeling at times is that the The influx is not massive and you can enjoy a spacious comfort that perhaps is not what the organization expected.

Kendrick Lamar brought hip hop to Primavera Sound with a show led with his imposing presence dressed in red, accompanied by a staging that included a giant canvas that showed various illustrations behind him, fire, a group of dancers, lights and Baby Keem, a guest artist with whom he sang his collaboration The Hillbillies. “Higher!” It was the phrase that was heard proclaimed the most by this front row of rap, who constantly wanted to appeal to his fans to “make more noise.”

Skrillex finished setting the night on fire —with literal blazes that, unlike what happened in Barcelona, ​​weren’t a setback, and also appeared at the Baby Keem concert a few hours earlier, on the same stage.

The crazy ideas of the festival programmers generate improbable situations and, in this case, something that can only be defined with the word fantasy: the performance of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu in a context of electronica, rappers and old pop stars, as is this festival. . The brilliant mind that decided that it made sense for Kyary to be at Primavera Sound, against all odds, hit the nail on the head. Her presence there, despite the wee hours of the morning in which the Japanese, dressed to the nines, came on stage, allows one to dream of a night in which the J-pop singer blew up a certain tone. homogeneous in programming. Like an unstoppable machine, accompanied by two dancers, Kyary endowed her success with a certain rave air. Candy Candy and delighted all those who watched how the YouTube artist jumped into real life, singing classics like PonPonPon. And if Dave Gahan is able to organize thousands of people to move their arms in unison, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu also manages to get hundreds of people to do something even more difficult (and never seen before in a concert), take a few steps, all together. , to the right, and then another step to the left.

Primavera Sound will culminate this Saturday with a complicated first edition, with Rosalía as headliner and, perhaps, more unexpected flare-ups, discordant notes and new liturgies. Because establishing a festival is not achieved in one day.

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