A varied musical feast at one of Spain’s newest and most ambitious music festivals
Charlotte Hayne

09:40 10th July 2017

Buy Tickets For 2019

The final day of Mad Cool Festival in Madrid came to a close on Saturday night (July 8)with sets from the likes of Anna Of The North, Wilco, Manic Street Preachers, Kings Of Leon, M.I.A., Moderat and SBTRKT. Tributes also rang out across the festival to honour acrobat Pedro Aunion Monroy, who died at the festival on Friday.

Norwegian alt-pop sensation Anna of the North opened the third night of the festival with her distinctive, ethereal voice and poised control. Goddess of goosebumps, she wooed away the previous night’s hangover with wistful lyrics full of natural imagery. Her sound caressed, sometimes hardly there. Others times, it’s all there was.

On the Koko UK stage, Welsh heroes Manic Street Preachers played to a small yet devoted crowd with Nicky Wire replaced by Richard Beak on the bass. Opening with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ the mood was nostalgic as the crowd sung along - ‘Itemise loathing and feed yourself smiles’. ‘Kevin Carter’, ‘If you Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ and ‘Show Me The Wonder’ were highlights. Their 14-song set showcased their reputation as social commentators extraordinaire and the Manics’ poetic lyrics remain as politically relevant now as they were 25 years ago.

Programmed events were paused at 22.45 to pay tribute to acrobat Pedro Aunion Monroy, who died whilst performing at the festival the day before. Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ played across the festival whilst screens showed a message in his memory. A poignant choice as this was the song that had been playing during his accident.

Other personal dedications were made by musicians throughout the night, including M.I.A., who gave a robust and burly first live performance in Spain. Taking to the stage in an orange trench coat she cut a jailbird silhouette against a backdrop of iron bars. This commandeering and pushy visual was matched by her potent performance. It was at the beginning of ‘Fly Pirates’ that she got all of the crowd making fly pirate (wings) signs for Pedro. Later, in a slightly random shout-out, she praised all the people trying to ban nuclear bombs: “Whether you win or lose, at least you tried.” Her performance finished on a high with the crowd suitably warmed up for late night performance from Moderat.

Moderat stole the show. Their 90-minute 2am set had all the hallmarks of an unforgettable performance. Great vocals and guitar from Sascha Ring were met with bone dusting bass from Gernot Bronsert, and Sebastian Szary’s electronics. The rumble in your stomach is not your hunger – it’s their bass. Combined with an impressive onstage light show, tension and an impending sense of danger were very much in evidence. The overall effect was a modern day Fantasia, deployed with sensitivity towards a booming orchestral crescendo that would have made even Disney proud. And one that left the crowds whooping for more.

From Manics to Moderat, the breadth of genre on the last day at Mad Cool gave attendees an impressively diverse yet coherent experience and reflects the high quality music curation of this young festival

Photo: Press