So…the start of the festival is almost upon us. Sound checks are being conducted and we’re sitting half-naked relaxing in the sunshine on our veranda looking out over the swimming pool and the bay. The hotel breakfast has set us up and we’re feeling mellow. None of your knee-deep in mud here!
The Pilgrim is busying herself with a sun lounger and a book. I think she’s done on one side and needs to turn over but that’ll wait, relaxing is the order, for now, such physicality can wait ‘mas tarde’ as they say in Spain.
The boys and girls from Enjoy Travel have done a sterling job setting up the stage, seating and hotel facilities, all we have to do is turn up, listen, eat, drink and sleep; so that’s what we do.
It’s been a busy morning with breakfast and sunbathing and all the exertions have rendered us hungry so we make our way to the outside bar conveniently located adjacent to the stage and seating only to find they don’t do food; however, we are quickly led to a small cafe secreted around the side of the hotel and bathed in sunshine. The views lend themselves to a visit here towards evening as the sun sets over the pretty bay skirted with palms and with the odd rocky area to add interest. There’s a clue as to the view towards evening as this facility has the imaginative name of Sunset Cafe.
I’ve been looking at the time on my laptop and forgot to update it to European Time so after a brief discussion we agree that I’ll deal with la comida and she’ll scurry off to requisition a couple of chairs at the concert. I’m thinking that this may take some time as the Pilgrim heads off towards the sun and I ask for a takeaway sandwich. I’m wrong, I get served with staggering promptness considering we are in Spain and I’m following before her silhouette fades into the deep blue backdrop of the Mediterranean.
If you click on any image you can page through them at full size…
The sun continues to shine with only an odd cloud creating a fleeting and fast-moving shadow over the seating area so the silver-topped or pink topped attendees have harvested an interesting array of head covering. There’s the floppy straw, the baseball cap, right way round; baseball cap, back to front and looking like 70-year-old teenage arse; bandana, not looking good but they are extremely useful in as much as when not in use they just tuck in your pocket or bag and are forever on-hand for emergency good weather and all of this complemented by the inevitable towel on the head crew, an emergency measure that I’ve subscribed to in the past. I don’t see any knotted hankies, well not on this occasion!
Much credit should be ascribed to the sound crew who’ve created an atmospheric and echo-free zone within this area of swimming pool, bar, hotel rooms and the sea. It must be a something of a challenge but we’re left with a fabulous experience as the afternoon acts make their respective appearances.
I don’t want this to sound like a critic’s view of the day so I’d just like to say:
Balshazzar’s Feast gives us a wonderful mix of classical, traditional and self-penned music with a bit of humour thrown in.
Demon Barbers are fabulous all-round entertainers with some astonishingly acrobatic break dancing, traditional dancing and amazing electric folk with a range from Grateful Dead and a brilliant reggae version of Ron Angel’s, Chemical Worker’s Song. What a way to spend your afternoon, listening to wonderful music whilst getting a tan and gently mellowing with a beer.
The afternoon concludes and the Pilgrim hits the tracks with jogging gear and headphones doing her ‘couch to 5km’ constitutional and I retire to the gym forgetting we’re on Spanish time.
I’ve been in the gym for 15 minutes when a hotel lady comes in with a bunch of keys to tell me that it is time to lock it up. I protest and point to the notice that states the closing time as 6.00pm (it’s currently 5.25). She nods and says “Yes, but if it’s not being used then we close it early”, and she jangles her keys. “Am I not proof that it is in use”, says I.
I think my use of a double negative must have thrown the key-lady as she stresses that her boss has told her to lock it. I realise at this point that I’m on a loser so I confirm the opening time for tomorrow as I point to the notice board. “So you open again at 8.00am?”, although I make it as a statement of fact it really is a question.
“No”, she says, completely oblivious to the notice, “We open again at 9.00!
We are in Spain, I rest my case…
The performing area and surrounding facilities are lit up and as the light fades and the evening sun sets behind the stage long clear chimneyed heaters are lit and the flames illuminate the faces of the audience in a warm orange glow. It’s not particularly warm now and there’s not that much heat emanating from them but the psychological effect is significant and we’re drawn to them anyway like flies around a light bulb.
Steve Knightly and his guests do a two-hour set that encompasses every genre of music imaginable. All are hugely talented musicians and Steve’s voice is a wonderful instrument in its own right. For me this two-hour set is sublime. Thanks Steve.
We move into the main bar which is huge and Flossie is already in full flow organising various people so that all who want to can, play, sing or both and we’re treated to the best.
The Shite Shirts are in Everly mode, Flossie is magnificent in both quality and volume, Mick Doonan and all ensemble do ‘Union Miners’ and I’ve never heard the Pilgrim sing with so much passion; it’s one of those, ‘you had to be there’ moments and I wipe away tears of joy and delight as the final notes are delivered like a Phil Spectre wall of harmonic sound… oh this is good!
We’re about to go back to our room when we get ‘Flossied’ and ‘Shite Shirted’ in equal measure. It’s the equivalent of being kidnapped by benevolent errr, kidnappers and we have to buy more beer and join in with the Everly Brothers, Beatles, and various classics from way back. These are all combined with one or two modern tearjerkers and Flossie delivers My Name is Luka by Suzan Vega in an unamplified voice that would fill the Albert Hall. We get various wonderful ‘extensions to set’ from different artists that have been on-stage throughout the day and who generously extend their commitment to the festival with these impromptu sessions throughout the night.
There’s a warm glow in the sky as we head back to our room. We’ve been here two days now and it’s only the first day – work that one out!
The Festival is fabulous for its official guests but it’s even better for these late night/early morning feasts of music and fun.
As I write this, I relive the experience so I’m looking forward to the next night and there’s a whole day of official music till then.
Enjoy the snaps – I’m working on a bit of video…G..x
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