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Article of Lemon Pop Festival [Murcia] concert

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NME-Europe Live: Lemon Pop Festival 2009

Murcia's cult pop festival, now in it's 14th year, despite more than one attempt to put it to bed by certain quarters, was back in full swing this weekend. Here's the nme-e lowdown on proceedings.

Having to choose one of the two days saw me going for the second, as - no disrepect to the Friday set, which included the ever spectaular Astrud - the lure of BMX Bandits and Spain's Cooper was too much to miss out on.

National bands, The Boat Beam and The Ginger Lynns got things moving, albeit to a reduced number of spectators (the competition offered by the open air food bars across the street proving too strong - I missed them both too in favour of an extra chorizo).

The Zodiacs were coming onstage as I strolled in and soon got me working off the excess calories with their furious brand of powerpop, Paul Collins adapted cover version of 'Hanging On The Telephone' included.

Having heard their debut release, '3,2,1...', a couple of times, I anticipated the set would be worth a watch and I was not disappointed. This 3 piece from Madrid-Vizcaya keep things simple but are very effective. Drums, a bass and lead guitar pumping out 3 minute flashes of pure powerpop means entertainment was guaranteed. One to keep your eyes on, I sense.

Next up were The School, a seven piece formation from Wales in pure Lemon Pop style. A sort of Belle and Sebastian / The Magic Numbers combo with a set which seemed to grow on you as it progressed. They appeared to be having a great time on stage, an impression they confirmed when I spoke to them afterwards:

"The festival was fantastic - great location and lovely people, we are very lucky to have played there, we don't really play many events like that in the UK because we aren't big enough yet, so this was a treat for us! We always get a welcoming reception, people come to say hello and take photos so it is really exciting.. thank you Murcia & Lemon Pop!"

The Lemon Pop festival has an uncanny knack of discovering hidden talent (Rinôcérose, Los Planetas or Camera Obscura spring to mind) so who knows where The School might go from here.

From Wales we headed north for Scottish cult band, BMX Bandits, the godfathers and procreators of Teenage Fanclub and The Soup Dragons. They were billed alongside invited artist Nick Garrie, whose 1984 release 'Suitcase Man' under the guise Nick Hamilton topped the Spanish charts, and led to an opening slot on Leonard Cohen's Spanish tour later that year.

In fact, Garrie came on for a mini acoustic set joined by BMX vocalist Rachel Allison on a couple of tracks. A nice idea, but out of place and I think the ever-growing crowd were glad to see him replaced by the BMX Bandits for real some 20 minutes later.

The Bmx Bandits might have been around for lifetime and have experienced their fair share of line up changes, but during their set at Lemon Pop they more than proved that there's plenty of life in the old dog yet.

Tracks like 'I Wanna Fall In Love' and 'The Sailor's Song' make it easy to understand where Teenage Fanclub came from and lead singer Duglas Stewart, in his immaculate purple suit, really got the crowd popping. it really was very easy to enjoy their set. Here's what he had to say about Lemon Pop:

"My perspective of the festival in Murcia is that there seem to be more festivals that seem to be a reaction against the mainstream corporate sponsored festivals. The big corporate events in the UK have became less and less about music and more about exploiting a group of people who want to buy into what they perceive as being an alternative life style by going to these events. It's very refreshing and positive for us to find festivals like this clearly run by people who care passionately about music and for fans.

All the people we met were so warm and friendly and it made us feel like we'd really found a whole lot of new friends from playing at Lemon Pop. for me playing music is about wanting to communicate and connect with other people and I think we managed that in Murcia."

You certainly did!

And so the time came for headliner Cooper to enter stage right. Cooper and Lemon Pop are like soul brothers and it shows. I asked lead singer, Alex, why. Here's what he said:

"I've known Ángel Sopena [the organiser] for ages. He did many interviews with my first band Los Flechazos, he wrote the lines for a tribute album years ago, he was in London when we played there, and has always supported me and my music. I like Murcia because I've got good friends in the music scene there, especially the guys from Art School, but also PopEyes, Vacaciones, Octubre and Angel Pop... a crazy bunch."

Mr Sopena knows a good band when he hears one and Cooper are no exception; a sound to rival any band and a vocalist, Alex Diez, who flows through each track with such ease that you can't help but be hooked on the band's pop melodies.

Opening with 'Un Nudo En La Garganta' from debut album 'Fonorama' but mainly focusing on the latest release 'Aeropuerto' (read review) the by now 2,000 plus crowd showed their Cooper colours (myself included) during tracks like 'El Circulo Polar', 'Ruido', the exquisite 'Steph' and my personal favourite from the set 'Hyde Park' (I was feeling nostalgic). As if that wasn't enough, there was still time for a Jorge Art School cameo and a Flechazos hommage to close.

The public got what the public wanted (name that tune, anyone?) and set off for the aftershow (or bed) hoping that Lemon Pop can survive the onslaught and provide us with more pop magic next year. (If you're interested there's a good interview with the festival's organisers on the Lemon pop myspace page, which talks about this year's problems).

Oh year, one last thing. Thanks go to Duglas (BMX Bandits), Alex (Cooper) and The School for having a chat, to Claudia for sneaking me in backstage and above all to my missus, Inma López who gracefully stayed at home with the kids while I bopped away - just think how many disappointed readers wouldn't have read this article had it not been for you.

Next up, B-Side festival!


Lemon Pop Festival [New Musical Express]
picture: Archivo Elefant

Lemon Pop Festival [New Musical Express]
picture: Archivo Elefant

Lemon Pop Festival [New Musical Express]
picture: Archivo Elefant

Lemon Pop Festival [New Musical Express]
picture: Archivo Elefant

Lemon Pop Festival [New Musical Express]
picture: Archivo Elefant










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