The party isle of Ibiza is known for its variety of musical entertainment but not so in the form of the more British concept of music festivals. That is, until this year.
DJ legend, Pete Tong, was responsible for the concept of the first major music festival to grace the Spanish island with the Ibiza123 festival, which was publicized as being a rocktronic event – a crossover between rock and dance music.
The setting itself was picturesque as the arena overlooked the sea on the renowned Sunset Strip, although a slight repositioning of the stage would have meant that the famous Ibiza sunset could be enjoyed alongside watching the acts on stage, which would have been beautiful.
Arriving onsite on Sunday, the legendary Nile Rogers Presents Chic were in the middle of their set, which was full of high energy and vigour and had the mix of mainly Spanish and English crowd having a good boogie. Rogers was charming as ever joking with the crowd and for their last tune ‘Good Times’ the band brought on a selection of festival-goers to jam onstage with them.
The rock headliner for the evening was Sting who took to the stage looking very well in cut off shorts and a white tee and began rocking out some of his classics as well as newer tunes. The front row of the crowd was full of locals who were bawling their eyes out when he sang the likes of ‘Every Breath You Take’ and by the time he got to ‘Roxanne’ the crowd was harmonising along and bouncing about. It was also a nice touch that Sting took time to speak to the audience in Spanish as well as English.
The surprising highlight of the early hours of the late night/early hours was David Guetta who came onstage with the most satisfied grin ever seen on a DJ. His stage layout was an immense production of flashing lights and lasers and the crowd erupted as he upped the ante with every tune he played.
On Monday the boiling festival site played homage to Tine Tempah, who had quite a following gather to see him. Sipping a cocktail before he bounded on to stage, the London rapper launched into a set that played off the crowd’s excitement to see him.
He declared, “This is fun. Fucking hell! I’m at a festival in Ibiza!” before doing his trademark ‘Miami to Ibiza’ routine where he had the whole crowd go low before springing up at his orders.
As it neared Elton John’s set the crowd visibly became fuller as people were coming in just to see the legend. He sauntered onto stage with a massive grin and a purple dinner jacket covered in multi- coloured sequins and ‘Fantastic’ written on the back... And that he was.
It was only a half hour set starting with ‘Your Song’ and the slower classics such as Rocket Man and Tiny Dancer, in between which he declared his gratitude at being at the festival and jumped at the chance when Pete Tong asked him. On the piano and vocally Elton is so flawless I feel it’s silly to go into detail about it.
The real surprise was the second half of his set: "I’ve always liked dance movements but never known how to do it. Three years ago I met these guys in Australia called Pnau. We’re going to play for the first time live. I hope you enjoy it."
The eccentric dance movement then took to the stage with Elton and provided the highlight of the evening with a mash up of Elton John tracks and dance music. It went down a storm as Elton got up and bounced across the stage as he became more confident with the set-up and even threw in a few ‘embarrassing uncle at a wedding’ moves. All in all it was an epic performance and the next day people were still talking about.
Pete Tong, the festival’s organiser, took to the decks to perform two DJ sets on Tuesday, (the festival's finale) throughout the day to the party crowd dancing in the sunshine.
Rock legend Lenny Kravitz sauntered onstage late but as cool as could be for an hour and a half set of his hits and crowd pleasers. His presence appeared to draw in the largest crowd of the event as late attendees flocked in just before he was due to start.
At points there seemed to be a little too much interval in his set with instrumentals being played out by the band but in respect it was a long set and regardless Kravitz proved to be a fantastic showman. His fellow band deserve a huge mention as his bass player seemed to outshine Lenny at points delivering some unbelievable riffs and the brass section carried whole tunes with their melodies that filled the arena.
"Tonight it looks like Ibiza is a rock n’ roll city", he declared and communicated with the crowd throughout, as well as jumping down into the pit a couple of times during the performance to touch the hands of the ecstatic fans in between hits such as ‘American Woman’ and ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’.
He finished with a duet with dance DJ, Luciano (whom the Spanish crowd went absolutely crazy for) before coolly thanking the audience and left Luciano to close the festival with an uplifting DJ set that finished in an array of fireworks.
As the first of its kind the line-up of this festival carried it and it’s definitely a great experience in an amazing location. With a few tweaks, an extra stage or so and a few adjustments in the layout this fusion of rock and dance could possibly be one of the greatest festival ideas to exist – well done Pete Tong.