I was going to do a review similar to my Great Escape one for Primavera, but I decided against it instead as I'm zonked. Instead I'll go straight into it and tell you something you probably already know, that Pulp were utterly majestic. It was like they'd never gone away. I didn't know until I returned home yesterday that they played a warm-up show in France on the way to Barcelona (just how good is the second encore from that show?!) but at Primavera they well and truly ruled the stage (the same setlist besides the second encore - we just had Razzmatazz).
Jarvis was confident from the outset, opener "Do You Remember The First Time?" was a perfect start and when you include "Disco 2000" early on in the set it surely is a sign of a band who know they could pull off their 'comeback' - and boy did they! My highlights have to include "Common People" purely because the crowd went utterly bonkers and boyhood favourites "This is Hardcore" and "I Spy" were superb. I'd only seen Pulp once before this and I'm already itching to see them again. Do not miss them this summer.
A brief synopsis of the rest of the weekend goes:
The National - Probably the second biggest crowd I saw and they were utterly brilliant, even the (50%) Spanish crowd (they don't really move much do they?!) were well up for it and the show was brilliant, highlights "Squalor Victoria", "Mr November", "Terrible Love", "England" and I really could go on and on. Not particularly sure what Sufjan Stevens added on the two tracks he came out for (he was far too quiet) but The National were incredible. What a live band they are and it's good to see them getting the reception they deserve.
No Joy - I was in a great mood after The National and in anticipation of Pulp and No Joy certainly didn't let that falter for one minute, thirty five minutes of dirty, noisy guitars, heavenly. Full marks to the drummer too, some relentless energy and heavy pounding going on. I enjoyed them in Feb when I saw them and they were so much better here, though it was a shame not to hear "No Joy". Next time. If you haven't checked out their album 'Ghost Blonde' do so.
Of Montreal - Boy do they know how to put on a show, I was expecting madness and how Of Montreal delivered. Besides the colourful show, an on-stage wrestling side show show and Catalan flag waving the important thing is that they sounded absolutely bloody brilliant and really got the sober (no beer!!) going.
Perfume Genius - An early Saturday start was worth it to see Perfume Genius in the dark and deadly silent auditori, though clearly battling nerves (especially evident when Mike was playing the acoustic guitar - at least three errors were made) the show was utterly captivating and left the large crowd speechless, he really is one talented man, his songs are just beautiful and intimate.
Tennis - Friday started well with a lovely sunny set from Tennis, their live sounds was more expansive than on the album and it worked really well, Patrick's guitar lines and the added dimension of a live drummer especially. A perfect setting for them with the distant noise of the sea after a lovely sunny day. The last song, no idea what it was (a cover?), was a big departure from the rest and worked really nicely, I think they found themselves some new fans and I heard good things of their Saturday afternoon show the next day too..
Smoke Fairies - One of only two acts I caught at both The Great Escape and Primavera, I enjoyed them again very much, they looked pretty nervous though and much of their humour stage interaction was missing. Still when you have their stunning voices, guitar work and song-craft that hardly matters.
Islet - A prelude for the bonkers antics of Thursday were the mad-but-not-quite-Of-Montreal Welsh experimentalists Islet, a few sound issues besides their early Thursday show went down a treat. The intense percussion is certainly my favourite aspect of their set, really good.
Cults - Much like Friday and Tennis, Cults got an evening crowd doo-woping about with their cutesy 60's style pop. The sound quality could have been better and their was far, far too much hair on display but Cults are destined to be one of the acts of Summer 2011 and the set was definitely enjoyable, "Abducted" and "Go Outside" getting the best response.
Warpaint - Warpaint keep getting tighter as a unit, they looked to be having a great time in the Saturday sun, I expected them to play a little longer (the set didn't make an hour) but what we did get was, as ever, brilliant. Stella keeps on stealing the show. Next up for my Warpaint ears is Glastonbury - looking forward to it already.
Soft Moon - The Soft Moon certainly win the award for youngest dark-synth pop fan award, with a boy of around three (perhaps a band members relative?) having a great time looking on from side stage for the first half of their set. The set was thoroughly enjoyable, dark menacing synth beats which sounded enormous, a later slot would have helped them out more though.
Glasser - I was expecting something massive, her album is percussion heavy and fills the room wonderfully, perhaps it was because it wasn't the usual full setup but I found her show pretty underwhelming if I'm being honest. Yeah it was the edgy synth pop that fills 'Ring' and yes Cameron's voice at times soared through but I think it fell a bit flat (at least for me). I'd certainly give Glasser another chance in a club environment and hope it was just a bit off this once.
Portal - The less said about the whole system the better. Anything that leaves a countless thousand people without the capability of buying any sort of drink for five hours should have back-up plans that can be instantly rolled out without waiting till almost ten o'clock.
Prices - €9 for a 750 ml beer. Seriously? Piss-take. €4 for 2/3's of a pint. Yeah, we were getting robbed. It's unusual for the street vendors outside to be the place to go for a cheap quick beer (and even they were trying to get €1.50 for something that you could by for €0.59 if you went 200 meters up Diagonal). Food wasn't much better unless you like your burgers being charged out at €6.00 and fries at €4.00 - thankfully the security was pretty lax and smuggling in the cheaper supermarket beer wasn't all that difficult.
Transport - Barcelona - surely it's not difficult to put on a few extra buses to get people home? There were apparently some on, I saw none. Just a couple of night buses so filled to the rafters you might as well have walked home - a two mile walk - perfect at 4am, yeah.
Sound Quality - as per most festivals, the sound quality really wasn't good. ATP stage especially stood-out for being pretty torrid.
I've left off a few bands I saw, I'm not here to say things are 'crap' and given how tired I am, I probably missed someone out! Overall, knackering, the football meant I missed PJ Harvey and whilst there are certainly some issues for the organisers to work out but Friday especially made the trip worthwhile.
The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Pulp - Common People - Electric Picnic 2011
No Summer by No Joy