Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Music To End The Year With

The last weekend of 2007 gave me a chance to catch up on current Spanish music trends with a couple of concerts in Madrid. First up was Muchachito Bombo Infierno who played in the Sala Riviera. One feature of the Madrid live music scene is that hardly any of the larger venues were designed for concerts; the Riviera is a huge discotheque complete with fake palm trees emerging from a bar in the centre. The place was packed, and the music was frenetic, a fusion of the rumba catalana with all sorts of other influences from r&b to ska passing via Manu Chao; all powered by a five piece brass section. Essentially it’s good time music, although none of it is memorable enough to make me feel like buying the record. The gimmick of the live show is to have an on stage artist who paints on a giant canvas as the concert progresses. It works quite well because Muchachito has a fairly tiresome habit of claiming that he is about to leave every 20 minutes or so. These lulls in the concert can be filled with speculation about how the painting is going to develop. With Madrid’s “special” interpretation of the Ley de Tabaco combining with my Christmas virus, I remember the night more for leaving me without a voice than for anything else.

The following night we went to see Fito & Fitipaldis, a band who have been around for a long time but whose popularity has really peaked this year after months of intensive touring. The venue this time was the Palacio de Deportes, a huge soulless venue where if you are stuck in the heights you are better off watching the concert on the video screens than trying to pick out any detail on the far away stage. It’s the price of popularity because this is a band that would be far better in a venue the size of Riviera or smaller. The music is more nostalgic, mainstream rock. Occasionally it reminded me of Dire Straits, at other times of Chuck Berry; together with some of those anthemic ballads so beloved of the Spanish who immediately whip out their lighters (or mobile phones!) to wave in the air as they sing along. You certainly get your money’s worth with Fito, their performance lasted at least 2 hours. Another very Spanish phenomenon in the concert was that of sitting behind what seemed to be a teenage daughter accompanied by both her parents – it was hard to tell who was behind the decision to come to the concert as the parents appeared to be enjoying it more than their offspring.

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