Primavera Sound 2014

Parc del Forum, Barcelona

Primavera provides some of the brightest colours you could wish for.

On the Friday of Primavera Sound 2014, after an hour-long storm pounds the concreted walkways of the Parc del Forum, the rain suddenly subsides, blue skies almost magically materialise and a double rainbow emerges above the stages, framing the festival in the most beautiful light.

It’s apt, then, that Primavera is a festival that offers the full spectrum of sonic rays: from seething punk and drone rock through to hip-hop and electronic bleeping.

Imagine a festival with Slowdive, Future Islands, Neutral Milk Hotel, The War on Drugs, Haim, John Talabot, CHVRCHES, John Wizards, Majical Cloudz, FKA Twigs, Volcano Choir and Mogwai. Pretty good, hey? They were the bands that were missed because of the wealth of talent on display.

Instead what begins with a gentle, melodic Real Estate set under the evening sun, swirls and grows and seethes, ending three days later seeing the sun rise as a glitter cannon shoots out streamers and Spanish DJ Coco ends with Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’.

Primavera Sound 2014

Between the two there are stunning highlights: Arcade Fire play a 21-song set that showcases everything they do so well: it’s unashamedly big and brilliant, beginning with a giant 'Reflektor' before we get a pounding 'Power Out', 'Rococo' with a Beatles' 'Helter Skelter' a cappella outro, 'No Cars Go' a Springsteen-fist pump while for ‘It’s Never Over’ Régine travels through the crowd to sing back at Win.

The crowd sings all the oohs and ahhs right back at them, arms aloft. Win forgets the words to 'Normal Person' at the end blaming a papier mâché-headed Pope dancing next to him – it doesn’t matter, this is stunning.

St. Vincent’s show is also approaching hypnotic perfection: every one of her robotic movements and all the spellbinding theatrics make it a mesmerising show – and that’s forgetting her jawdropping shredding. It only helps to shine a light on the twisted hooks and sparkling guitar lines of her new songs.

Primavera Sound 2014

"It's time to go fuckin' loco, motherfuckers,” announces Josh Homme, like the ginger Elvis he is, as Queens Of The Stone Age launch into 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer'. It’s a lean, intense show that is as powerful as it is efficient. On the other hand Pixies’ efficiency sometimes comes across more as going through the motions and Black Francis barely moves, but when you have 'Gigantic', 'Where Is My Mind' and 'Debaser' to pull out of the bag you can’t go wrong.

The National's show here is unflinchingly great. Augmented by Justin Vernon for Slow Show and Hamilton Leithauser for Mr November and Terrible Love it’s a set that’s been perfected through a year’s worth of performances. Yet despite the special guests it’s 'About Today' and 'Squalor Victoria' which feel transcendental tonight.

Primavera Sound 2014

Elsewhere Television playing the immaculate 'Marquee Moon' feels much fresher than it has any right to be: so much so you can nearly imagine what it would have been like to have heard it live in 1977. Girl Band are ferociously, brilliantly loud, Spoon remind you that they can be the one of the best bands around, while Warpaint, Factory Floor and Cut Copy all lock into thrilling rhythms that entrap you for the duration of their set.

Of course there are duds: Godspeed’s set doesn’t work and ends up feeling more of a endurance test while Kendrick Lamar’s seems too half-baked and too short. But as the philosopher Dolly Parton has said “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain” and god damn, Primavera provides some of the brightest colours you could wish for.

Tags: Arcade Fire, St. Vincent, The National, Primavera Sound, Festivals, Reviews, Live Reviews

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