...a serious sonic belting

Baking in a concrete amphitheatre bowl in Madrid while sucking down the bitter twang of a vodka limón and the deep stench of festival, mud, rain and general grimness became as foreign as the steep deadline for this review.

Indeed, it’s moments such as these that earn European Festivals including the inaugural slimmer sibling event to Spain’s Benicassim Festival, Saturday Night Fiber a gold star. Yet, whacking down a few beer sheds didn’t aid the soullessness of the venue itself, it’s bareness was not unlike the batty indie of The Rumble Strips, who were fortunate to have a handful of kids willing to be scorched to see them. MIKA, Babyshambles (who were a right old mess of loose hobo blues, salvaged vaguely by Albion and Fuck Forever) and Hot Chip similarly stood up for the new stream of songbirds flying south through festival season.

This said, the musical might of this particular gig stood wholly on the pins of the three 80’s artists, beginning with Morrissey, the spiny ex-Smith and well-renowned stiff birthing himself on stage in expected pompous flair and a strobe assault, with Last of The International Playboys followed by Ask and First of The Gang to Die opening the set. The Spaniards fell giddy to his camp-ish charm, with the moaner unable to keep his shirt on to play Mama Lay Softly in The River Bed, followed by Death of a Disco Dancer and Life is a Pigsty. Prior to this parade, Siouxsie, formally of Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshee’s proved the unquestionable star of the day; a rightful rock heroine whose potent jaunt of gyrating rock powered consistently through legendary hits Hong Kong Garden, Dear Prudence and Happy House and seeped effortlessly into new tracks Into A Swan and Here Comes that Day, making Siouxsie the reigning Queen of punk and (the never to be forgotten) dark creator of cool.

Yet it was the recently reformed note benders My Bloody Valentine who mowed down our minds with machine gun fuzz while tickling our cheeks pink with static sweet harmonies that ultimately wowed. Though the set consisted of songs, the most affable being Only Shallow and To Here Knows When from Loveless, each tune eloquently gave way to the experience itself, with our senses enjoying a serious sonic belting, all ending in the final flog delivered via You Made Me Realise and a twenty minute lashing of noise that in it’s intensity would test the nerves of Satan himself.

It was sick musical sadomasochism, outrageously tortuous though simultaneously gratifying. Fifteen minutes in, I flopped into a stadium chair, suffering temporary paralysis inflicted by the unapologetic fuzz attack, and yet in some respect, such concentrated noise served as a generous offering from a band that have remained absent for fifteen years despite a cult following willing their return. The original reverb-ist indulged and wrenchingly delivered until eventually, the gunfire of guitar ended. An enormous raw erupted and though my own applause was handicapped by a suffering twitch, MBV in Madrid go down as a truly magical moment.


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