Exclusive Report From Cala Mijas Festival

Florence and the Machine closed the Cala Mijas Festival Credit: Sharon Lopez

Kirk Blows spent three days at the Cala Mijas Festival and his exclusive report for Euro Weekly News follows below.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE closed out the Cala Mijas Festival in triumphant fashion on Saturday September 2 as the three-day event, which attracted more than 110,000 music lovers, proved a fantastic success.

There was no lack of energy from the British singer, who was making her second appearance following unspecified life-saving surgery that forced her to cancel two shows in Zurich and Paris recently.

And she was clearly emotional when saying, “Thank you so much. My life was saved so that I’m here today with you all.

“I’m so sad, I can’t believe this is the last show. It’s so beautiful. It’s such a gift to be understood.”

This was indeed the final date of her 16-month ‘Dance Fever’ tour to promote her fifth album of the same name.

She dances barefoot through hits such as ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and moves into the worshipping crowd to hug the front row of flower-crowned girls, who seem spellbound and entranced during the ritualistic experience.

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More than 70 international bands and local artists appeared across the six stages at the Sonora Mijas and La Playa sites during the festival, which began last Thursday (August 31).

Last year’s inaugural event, featuring Liam Gallagher, Kraftwerk and Arctic Monkeys among others, was a big success and won two major prizes at the Iberian Festival Awards in March.

Yet the organisers have still found room for improvement this time around by reconfiguring the arrangement of the Sunrise, Victoria and Sunset stages in the main arena.

Arcade Fire

Stunning appearance by Arcade Fire
Credit: Oscar L. Tejeda

One of the outstanding highlights came in the form of Thursday’s magnificent headliners ARCADE FIRE, in one of only a handful of live performances by the Canadian outfit in 2023.

It’s impossible not to be mesmerised by the Montreal band led by the husband and wife team of Win Butler and Régine Chassagne – the two main focal points, along with dreadlocked multi-instrumentalist Paul Beaubrun, who plays the role of cheerleader and helps to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Their sound is often chaotic, sometimes a cacophony, with so much going on and everything but the kitchen sink being thrown into action, including violin, accordion and lots of percussion.

Butler is embraced by the crowd at the end of the opening ‘Age Of Anxiety (Rabbit Hole)’, one of four songs from last year’s ‘We’ album, their fourth consecutive UK No.1 long-player.

They still draw heavily from their highly acclaimed 2004 debut, ‘Funeral’, with the frenetic ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ a particular favourite along with ‘Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)’ and ‘Crown Of Love’.

“We love playing in Spain,” says Butler towards the end – and the crowd reaction suggests they’re welcome back any time.


Still popular Siouxsie made a rare appearance
Credit: Oscar L. Tejeda

Earlier on Thursday, former Banshees vocalist SIOUXSIE, the legendary queen of gothic punk, impressed with a set drawn mainly from her old band’s 20-year career.

The 66-year-old – part Cruella de Vil, part Morticia Addams – is playing live for the first time in a decade and the thirst for Banshees material suggests the group retired prematurely in 1996.

Highlights include the opening couplet of ‘Israel’ and ‘Arabian Knights’, as well as ‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Happy House’, while ‘Hong Kong Garden’ created a hunger for noodles – but not at festival prices.

The closing ‘Into A Swan’ is one of two songs from her solo outing ‘Mantaray’, but this show was a celebration of Siouxsie and her past.

BAXTER DURY was first seen as a six-year-old on the cover of his father Ian’s classic ‘New Boots And Panties’ album of 1977 and is currently touring to promote the eighth record of his own career, ‘I Thought I Was Better Than You’.

Whereas his dad created colourful characters such as ‘Billericay Dickie’ and ‘Clever Trevor’, Baxter displays plenty of attitude but little humour and can at best be described as an acquired taste.

At the very same time, at the opposite end of the site, former talent show winner and Eurovision Song Contest entrant AMAIA – one of a whole host of Spanish acts on the overall bill – was warmly greeted by the locals who loved the 24-year-old’s brand of sunshine pop.

Much later, and at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Bristol-band IDLES offered a typically aggressive set of hardcore post-punk, followed by the more expansive FOALS whose natural habitat appears to be the festival stage, with ‘Spanish Sahara’ providing an obvious highlight.

The Strokes

The Strokes with guitarist who has links to Gibraltar
Credit: Sharon Lopez

Friday headliners THE STROKES remain the kings of New York cool with their indie garage rock after breaking onto the scene with their spectacular 2001 debut album ‘Is This It’.

Six albums into their career, the quintet are still clearly held in high regard in Spain, not least by prime minister Pedro Sanchez who was a surprise guest at the show.

It’s notable that more than half of the 18-song set is drawn from their first two releases, with only three tunes taken from their most recent, Rick Rubin-produced record of 2020, ‘The New Abnormal’ (No.3 in the UK).

Hard-working guitarist Albert Hammond Jr has links close by with his singer-songwriting father being the British-Gibraltarian who had a major US hit in 1972 with ‘It Never Rains In Southern California’.

Thankfully it rarely rains in southern Andalucia, so the only occasional dampener came in the shape of the between-song banter from singer Julian Casablancas, who seemed to amuse himself if not necessarily everyone else.

That didn’t stop the huge crowd enthusiastically receiving the likes of ‘Last Nite’ and the closing ‘Is This It’ as the band sent most people home happy.

Amyl and the Sniffers

Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers
Credit: Sharon Lopez

Earlier in the evening, many were pleasantly surprised by an energetic performance from the poorly named but thoroughly enjoyable AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS.

Described as a punk band but in reality, a raw and powerful hard rock group, the Australians won friends with a primal sound that invoked the spirit of compatriots AC/DC, with the raucous-voiced and skimpily dressed Amy Taylor insistently demanding the crowd’s attention.

And as the festival reached its climax on Saturday, unpretentious Scottish indie-rockers BELLE AND SEBASTIAN increased the feelgood factor by inviting more than 50 ‘friends’ on stage for the brilliant fun of ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’.

Other acts to appear across the three days, in the early hours, included electronic outfits UNDERWORLD and M83, while the La Caleta stage provided club, techno and dance music throughout.

Surprise guest

Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez was an unexpected visitor
Credit: Pedro Sanchez X (Twitter)

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