★★★★ (out of five)
TWO of Ireland’s finest bands made Blibao’s eighth BBK Festival one of the Choice weekends of the summer on the European continent.
This year’s Choice Music Prize winners Delorentos and 2010 winners Two Door Cinema Club had the crowd in Northern Spain’s Basque city jumping, singing and partying to crescendo.
On a line-up that featured Kings of Leon, Editors, Depeche Mode and Vampire Weekend it was only Green Day that elicited such a reaction from the crowd as the boys from County Dublin and County Down respectively.
Two Door Cinema Club headlined the Thursday night making the typically Spanish stage time of 1.50 am seem like primetime.
Fans should generally smell a rat when a band with two albums are headlining on a big night in a festival – cue album regurgitation and a back catalogue that just about screeches to the end of a set.
Not so in Two Door’s case, both their records are packed with tunes that send crowds into overdrive.
Frontman Alex Trimble has matured into the consummate front man and was polished in every move that the humongous big screen showed in super close up.
The downbeat showmanship is endearing and the clearly, slowly spoken utterances in ingles where as much as the majority of the crowd could handle.
The slowly plucked riffs at the start of the big songs did most of the talking. Instructing the crowd very clearly that this is the start of Something Good Can Work, What You Want or Sleep Alone, prepare to dance and sing back in unison.
Like a relentless good time machine the hits just kept coming and without major deviation from the recorded sound a unique live energy emerges as they progress through the set list.
Circling the front and middle of the arena it became evident that the fans just kept on dancing , singing and smiling with the kind of exuberance that only comes when every bit of you has been buzzing with anticipation all day to see a band you love.
The laboured efforts of Depeche Mode for the previous two hours may have disappointed some of the 20,000 strong crowd but for many it seemed to represent a good time to grab some food, a drink, friends and then get ready for the County Down men.
Earlier this year, Delorentos followed on from Two Door to win the Choice Music Prize – Ireland’s album of the year award.
At BBK they had an 8pm slot on Saturday, the last night of the three-day festival. My impression on first viewing of the slot was that the set could go badly for them with Vampire Weekend just about to strike up on the main stage as Delorentos set in the Vodafone arena was finishing.
I had thought that a little known Irish band could get lost in the clamour to see the American giants. So you can imagine my surprise as I rocked up to the stage to see it packed out 100 feet back from the back of the tent before they even started. As they walked on stage to rhythmic Spanish claps and chants of “DEL-OR-ENTOS, DEL-OR-ENTOS” I soon realised that something special was in the air. The chipboard floor in the arena bounced like a trampoline as I made my way closer to the front.
Screaming Basque girls being held up on the shoulders of burly Basque men sung with gusto as they moved effortlessly through the harmonies and melodies of their set. Every effort RonanYorrell or Kieran McGuiness made to talk to the crowd between songs seemed to be thwarted by the crowds anthemic chanting of the band’s name.
By the time they struck up into Stop, Do you Realise and S.E.C.R.E.T the floor seemed to be flinging revellers further up into the air.
Getting swept away with the crowd’s reaction but at the same time wondering what I was missing, I asked Ronan Yourell from the band to shed some light on what just happened
“A couple of years ago we got brought over to Spain and for whatever reason it just clicked, we play here more than we play Ireland which is incredible,” he said. “We were here last week and we will be here again in two weeks’ time.”
Despite its economic woes and massive youth unemployment the Spanish market remains a big one for live music.
“These festivals in Spain happen throughout the summer,” Yourell says. “The sheer size of the country means that despite the problems that they are having they can keep putting on these events. When the Spanish crowd take to you they look to see you again and again and the Spanish market is helping to bring Delorentos to new audiences in South America, Central America, we even got asked to do a gig in Malawi.”
As the set drew to an end there was sign of the crowd being pulled 100 metres to the left where Vampire Weekend were just starting, the chanting continued and Delorentos held their 4000 strong fans right to the end, clapping and chanting their way out of the tent there was an electric feel.
Delorentos are anything but a little known band in Spain and with a show like that, you would have to say deservedly so.