In partnership with Cala Mijas 

Nestled deep in the Andalusian hills, music is king. Spain’s Cala Mijas – in its second edition – takes a refreshing route-one approach when it comes to festivals. The summer slate’s usual overstuffed fields with side-attractions, brand activations and general clutter is absent; the festival, which takes place in Mijas in Málaga, keeps it direct. The site is cosy with three large stages all pointing at each other: beats and good vibes envelop you – it’s how we like it, to be honest.

The festival reaps hearty rewards from its lush surroundings. When new wave legend Siouxsie Sioux performs, on her first run of dates in a decade, soft evening light bathes the hills opposite, her once jet-black aesthetic now softened to baby blue hue and in keeping with the Mediterranean light. Her run of hits – ‘Hong Kong Garden’, ‘Spellbound’, ‘Happy House’ and her cover of The Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence – showcases a potent performer still.

Amyl and the Sniffers
Credit: Sharon Lopez

Later on Thursday evening, Idles ringleader Joe Talbot is enamoured with the “bonita luna”, which is still looming large following this week’s supermoon appearance, the booming white spot rising behind the Victoria Málaga stage. The songs are bleak and direct, the band racing through cuts from gnarly, superb fourth album ‘Crawler’ alongside ‘Brutalism’’s ‘Mother’, where Talbot rages about parent’s graft in the public services to little reward. Foals’ follow up a magnificent Reading Festival headline set with confetti-free rerun of that show, but its still expertly stitched together and ludicrously fun. Arcade Fire’s headline performance hours earlier – their first European shows since allegations of misconduct were made against frontman Win Butler – is lapped up by the Spanish faithful.

High-spirits were dampened somewhat by The Strokes’ return to Spain. The first few songs in their set – as is depressingly expected – are heckled and littered with chants to “turn it up”, the agitated crowd seeking a preferable spot should one exist. Eventually a level of sorts is found and by the time of the final third’s hit parade – ‘Reptilia’, ‘Hard To Explain’ and ‘Welcome To Japan’ – it is as good as it has ever been. Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s Prime Minister and ardent Strokes fan, is spotted backstage. Frustratingly, this muddy mix is a problem that besets no-one else on the bill: Amyl and The Sniffers’ Amy Taylor is emboldened and punchy during their set, and M83 pairs enveloping ambience and upbeat electronica bangers to a rowdy crowd.

cala mijas
Credit: Sharon Lopez

Naples group Nu Genea are a ‘if you know, you know’ sensation, their louche concoction of Italo-disco, funk, jazz and global grooves positioning them up as the ravey answer to Khruangbin. Two competing jovial conga lines snake through the crowds, and fans gleefully make an impromptu limbo for punters to chance their luck in. Local heroes like Lori Myers and Delaporte continue the high energy and vibes into the wee hours.

On the final day, 5,000 extra punters head to the hills for José González who performs his 2003 breakthrough album ‘Veneer’ in full, and Metronomy bring the pastel-hued pop of the ‘English Riviera’ to the Costa Del Sol, drawing one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Frontman Joe Mount dedicates ‘The Look’ to Spain’s recent World Cup winning football team, eliciting full-hearted support for a team whose achievements have been overshadowed by scandal and misogyny.

Credit: Sharon Lopez

There’s a cloud hanging over Florence and The Machine’s headline set but, thankfully, light is breaking through. Last week she revealed that she had undergone “life-saving” surgery, a story she tells the Málaga crowd she will discuss soon “when the time is right”. No wonder she wanted to get back on stage: the ‘Dance Fever’ tour, of which this is the final show, has been a cathartic, magical experience as all her engagements prove to be.

The fans who have risen to the occasion – floating white dresses, flower crowns – elevate songs old and new, supporting a musician who gives her whole heart to every performance. Music, it seems, must share its crown with Florence, as she asserts in the song’s titular chorus: “I am King”.  Oh yes she is.

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By mrtrv

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