MTV Gibraltar Calling 2017

Last weekend Gibraltar welcomed MTV and a host of stars for the MTV Presents Gibraltar Calling music festival. Now in it’s 6th year, this is the first time the music festival has been organised by an external company. Back in 2012, Jesse J headlined a much smaller day-long event. Last year it was spread over 2 days and had four musical stages. This time beginning later in the day and over just two stages, we were interested to see what MTV would bring to what already seemed to be a rather eclectic but winning formula.

Day 1 : Saturday 2nd September 

Our first band of the day (the festival was opened by local band Afterhours) was The Amazons from Reading. They were amazing, very reminiscent of the grungy Indy bands of the early/mid 90s a bit Madder Rose/ Buffalo Tom/ Afghan Whigs and right up my street. 

Next up on the Main Stage was Spanish all-girl rock band Hinds, who did a fab job warming up a slightly reluctant crowd I thought. I hope the small numbers who went to see them were just because they were unfamiliar to the Gibraltar crowd and not because of where they come from. They were full of energy and put on a very enthusiastic show.

Hoards of folk streamed into the stadium in time for current pop artist Charli XCX. 

Charli XCX

At this point, it was my cue to head to the Classic Stage (I guess it comes to us all sooner or later) to see a couple of artists who formed part of the soundtrack to my late teens : Rozalla and Black Box. I had a great sing-along to Everybody’s Free and Ride on Time! (Just as well the rest of the family were enjoying Jonas Blue and couldn’t be embarrassed by my Mum dancing).

I caught the end of Jonas Blue and a bit of Years & Years before heading back to the Classic Stage for my headliners of the day.

Years & Years
The Village People
Saturday’s Classic Stage headliners were The Village People. Never in my wildest dreams did I think one day I would see them perform live! After all those years growing up in the 70s and 80s with them as the soundtrack to my childhood on the radio and in my Dad’s car… They didn’t disappoint playing so many hits.

The Village People know how to please the home crowd – while performing ‘In the Navy’ they whipped out some Gibraltar flags to do their semaphore with. As you can imagine, that got a great reaction from the crowd.

Rounding off their set with, you guessed it, YMCA, they led the crowd in a dance lesson. Apparently we’ve all been doing it wrong all these years! 

For me, Village People and The Amazons were the highlight of day one of the festival. We did stay to hear the start of Saturday’s headline act; Ricky Martin, but he’s not really our cup of tea. We heard ‘Shake your Bon Bon’, and ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’ and headed home to miss the crowds.

Ricky Martin


Day 2 : Sunday 3rd September 


At last year’s GMF I heard Layla Bugeja play for the first time, tucked away on a tiny stage behind the boathouse. The acoustic set she played with her Dad then blew me away. Since then, she has performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. This year, she played with her band on the Main Stage opening Sunday’s lineup. 

With a decent crowd of family, friends and well-wishers she kicked Sunday’s day of music off in great fashion.

The Vaccines
Next up was The Vaccines, who in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion joked that Gibraltar was in Spain. The crowd took it in far better humour than when Paloma Faith made similar comments a couple of years ago.

The Kaiser Chiefs were the next to grace the main stage, and for their second appearance here in Gibraltar. Back in 2015 they supported the headliners, Kings of Leon. Despite playing a long set the night before at the Bingley Festival in Yorkshire, they were brilliant. Front man, Ricky Wilson wowed the crowd with his energy, running back and forth across the stage, hitching a ride one the tv cameras and generally singing his heart out. I’m so glad they came back to see us again!

The soundtrack artists to countless M&S Food adverts, Clean Bandit took to the stage next, after pulling out of the 2014 GMF at the 11th hour. They put on a very good show and had the crowd singing along to their hits. 

Clean Bandit

As the sun went down, Bastille took to the main stage and thoroughly entertained the crowd.

Bastille

Their backing videos really added to their set, no prizes for guessing where their political tendencies lie…

Then it was time for some more Mum dancing with Bananarama. What fun it was. The duo, of Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin (who are about to be reunited with former member Siobhan Fahey) belted out hit after hit; Robert De Niro’s waiting, Love in the First Degree, Venus etc. They didn’t take themselves too seriously and appeared to be having as much fun as the fans even getting a bunch of them on stage to dance and sing along with them.

Bananarama


What can I say about Craig David? Well, he was brilliant. I didn’t know what to expect in the run up to the festival, so guided by Mr Postcard, I watched some YouTube videos of his most recent performances and was very impressed. Singing his oldest hits and then rapping and DJing during the TS5 section of his set he had the Gibraltar crowd hanging off his very word- what a performer!

Last of all, Fat Boy Slim….

We ducked out of staying super late on Saturday night as Steve Aoki came on after Ricky Martin, but we decided to try and catch the beginning of Fat Boy Slim. His music and stage show were mesmeric although incredibly loud (or perhaps I’m just getting old).

We wimped out after about half an hour and headed off to get the night bus home (yes we are definitely getting old!).

Our verdict on the new MTV takeover of the old Gibraltar Music Festival? There were definitely some improvements this year, the improved access to the classic stage and food court area and the large shaded areas provided much needed respite, and the standard of the artists was very high. Starting later in the day was positive for dodging the sun at its hottest but the knock on effect was that acts went on until well beyond midnight (not so good if you have any kids or young people in your party).

A couple of things we did miss though was the extra stages we had last year, that meant there was always something to see or listen to and this year we had periods when there was no one playing. Also, the sets seemed a bit short for some artists (30 mins) when you know they could go on a lot longer.

All in all it was a good weekend’s entertainment and good value for money. Thank you MTV!

My #GMF16 – Gibraltar Music Festival 2016

Day One : Saturday 3rd September 


Last weekend was the first weekend in September and that can only mean one thing here in Gibraltar- the Gibraltar Music Festival! After last year’s highlights of Duran Duran and the Kings of Leon, not to mention Madness, Little Mix and many more, expectations were rather high as to who would be gracing the stages beneath the Rock this year.

This year, we took advantage of buying the reduced price early bird tickets without knowing what the line-up would be. I have to admit that when I heard who was due to play I wasn’t over excited, but we’d already got our tickets so it would be silly not to go and give it a try.

After a relatively short time queueing in the hot early afternoon sun, we were in!

Before setting up camp with our picnic blanket and deckchairs, we decided to take a wander around the festival site and see some of the other attractions that were on offer apart from the main stages. First stop was the Gibtelecom stage (the second stage) which had local band Jet Stream performing their own material to a small but appreciative crowd.

Jet Stream

Next stop was the Seaside Stage, which this year had a very welcome roof to keep the sun off. Each year when we arrive at this stage it never fails to amuse me that for the rest of the year, I come and watch my son train and play football matches on this pitch! 

Anyway, back to Saturday and another local group, Soul Mates were on stage and just bringing their set to a close with some rock and roll numbers. They were real crowd pleasers with lots of dancing in the audience (perhaps due to it’s proximity to the cocktail bar).

Soul Mates
Talking of which….Mojito anyone? Well, it would be rude not to don’t you think? 😉

Finally we made our way to the back of the boathouse, where a small but perfectly formed stage was set up for acoustic artists to perform. It was shielded from the louder music elsewhere on the site by the boathouse building which meant that you could clearly hear what was being played.

We arrived mid-way through Layla Bugeja’s set, another local musician who plays both covers and her own material. I heard her play recently at a concert and I was blown away by how good she is. Supported by her father on guitar, her performance here was excellent. I would recommend anyone to seek her out if you should find her performing again.

 

Layla Bugeja
 
Along with the musical venues, there was also a comedy stage and circus stage at the festival. We found that there was so much going on that we didn’t even visit these parts of the event.

The time had come to mark our territory in front of the Main Stage. Armed with deckchairs, a picnic blanket, hats, ear defenders and iPads for Little Postcards with little interest in the music, we found some school friends and pitched up camp near them.

As I mentioned at the start, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to any act on the Saturday, I just wanted to soak up the atmosphere. With little ones to consider, it’s not that easy to wander around the festival site, so Mr Postcard and I took it in turns to have a look around. He went to see Paul Young, and I went to see Toploader while the other looked after the ‘creche’. The system worked well and meant we could see more than just the one stage.

Toploader
One highlight for the non-music fans in the family was the amount of scoffing which went on. There was popcorn and candy floss… (well it was a special day after all).

We watched The Vamps from afar. They were a big hit, especially with the younger members in the audience. Then came All Saints.

All Saints
Please excuse the quality of these photos – taken from afar on a phone! I really enjoyed All Saints. I wasn’t a huge fan the first time around, but their songs were very familiar and they clearly enjoyed their performance, as did the crowd.

Next, time for more food…

There was a lot more on offer than just burgers and chips, the more adventurous went for noodles and sushi, while fussy younger eaters enjoyed contraband ham sandwiches smuggled in by an unnamed person…

As evening fell, it was time for Travis. I admit I wasn’t that excited to see them, but they played a brilliant set and really stole the show for me.

Travis
Mr Postcard got right down to the front of the crowd and took this fab photo as Fran Healey took a ride on someone’s shoulders.

They were really brilliant and went down a storm.

Ne-Yo
Next up was Ne-Yo. By this point, the long day in the sunshine had taken it’s toll. We had one sleeper and another one not far off, so two songs in, we decided to beat the rush and head home.

 

Day 2 : Sunday 4th September 

After the excitement of the day before I have to admit, I was a little ‘jaded’ and as the two littlest Postcards weren’t particularly interested in returning on the second day I sat out most of it at home with them. Mr Postcard took our eldest during the afternoon and they enjoyed a relaxed wander round without us. Zara Larsson was Eldest’s favourite act of the day.

In the evening I returned with Eldest in time to see most of Jess Glynne’s performance. She belted out lots of hits we know from the radio.

During Jess Glynne’s set we dashed quickly across to the Gibtelecom Stage just in time to witness an air guitarist’s favourite hit, The Final Countdown, by Europe. It was great fun and the crowd was bouncing along to the music.

After Europe were finished, it was Bryan Ferry’s turn. We went to see him perform a couple of songs, but it’s more my Dad’s cup of tea than mine. Credit to him though, he can still sing and had the attention of a large crowd. His band was excellent too.

The highlight of the whole weekend for me though, and the one band I had really been looking forward to was Stereophonics. They didn’t disappoint.

They played a great set with loads of their old hits, they were slick and the patter between tracks was funny. I even managed to get near to the front and see Mr Kelly Jones relatively close up… swoon.

The band were brilliant, the songs were rousing, the crowd all sang along. The perfect end to the weekend’s musical extravaganza for me.

So there you have it, that was my experience of the Gibraltar Music Festival 2016. I only scratched the surface really, having young children with us on the first day rather restricts your movement and there is a whole lot more you can experience than we did like the comedy and circus stages, plus later on there was a dance stage and dub-club with dance music into the wee small hours.

Despite my earlier reservations about how the weekend would pan out, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t eclipse last year’s festival (you can read about it here: Rock stars & heart throbs GMF 2015 ), but then Duran Duran would be hard to beat in my book but it certainly didn’t disappoint. I wonder who next year’s festival will bring?

Rock stars & heart throbs: Gibraltar Music Festival 2015


Living in Gibraltar really has its benefits aside from the sunshine and the fantastic community here – for one weekend in the year, we can catch a free bus from the end of our road to a world class music festival. And although it does have similarities with English festivals (think portaloos and beer in plastic cups) you’re guaranteed no mud! Each year in the months running up to the festival, eager music fans are drip fed little tidbits of information about who’s signed up to perform via the local media outlets slowly bringing the simmering excitement to fever pitch in the last few weeks. This year’s festival turned out to be the best and biggest festival yet and for the first time was spread across two days.

Another new development this year was the cool festival wristbands we were all given on arrival which gave us entry on Sunday and helped us pay for our beers (using cashless transactions).

But first, let’s go back six years to our first September in Gibraltar… On National Day 2009 there was a rock concert in a pay-and-display car park next to the leisure centre. ‘So what?’ I hear you say. Well it was headlined by Status Quo. I was quite amazed that a group as big as them (admittedly they were no longer at the peak of their success) would come to Gibraltar to play a gig in a carpark. I can remember wandering the streets around Ocean Village, where we had set up camp for the day, pushing my 2 year old in a buggy to get him to sleep listening to ‘Rocking all over the world’ echoing off the apartment buildings nearby. It was a rather surreal experience! Clearly, I’m not the only one who remembers it, I spotted this chap walking up Main Street this week:

Anyway, since then the musical visitors have grown in number leading to the first ever Gibraltar Music Festival in 2012. It was headlined by Jessie J, which was seen as a real coup at the time. We decided against going with our young children so I can’t tell you much about it. The buzz afterwards however, was huge in Gibraltar and we really felt that we had missed out. In 2013, I didn’t repeat that mistake and got myself a ticket (my husband had offered to have the kids and give me a day off – hurrah!). Then the Government announced that adults could get free tickets for children if they showed their ID card and ticket. So armed with a ticket for me and a free one for my eldest, we headed to the stadium. It was amazing and really well organised (despite the lack of ladies loos). We were entertained by Level 42, Texas, Olly Murs and Emeli Sande. It was fab, we turned up to the same stadium where our kids do sports day, bumped into loads of people we knew (most of Gibraltar was there, or so it seemed) and we saw REAL music stars performing!

Last year, we took the plunge and decided to take the whole family – all five of us. Again, it was a great day out. Local restaurants set up food stalls to cater for the crowds and more big stars hit the Rock. Among those taking to the stage were Tony Hadley, John Newman, Rita Ora and The Script. We had a brilliant time, although our two youngest found the noise levels a bit much so this year, armed with two sets of ear defenders we headed back to Victoria Stadium.

GMF ’15 Day 1 

We decided to turn up mid afternoon on Saturday as it was going to be a long day and the boys would get tired. On arrival, we were greeted by this huge queue which thankfully moved quickly. While we were waiting we could hear Union J’s set and judging by the crowd’s reaction it went down well.


We took up residence near the back, armed with a picnic rug and a couple of deck chairs we waited for the next band, which was Lawson. It was their second appearance at the Gibraltar Music Festival- they’d liked it so much the first time. They got a great reception despite losing sound during their first song. After a short break, they came back on stage and filmed the video for their new single, sang a cover of the Jess Glynne hit ‘Hold my hand’ and ended with ‘Nobody does it like Juliet’ which was a big crowd pleaser.

Between sets we were witness to a lovely moment when a couple of young girls, who are huge Little Mix fans, were surprised by being invited back stage to meet their heroines. It was all done very quietly and was a really lovely thing for the organisers to do, you should have seen their faces – total disbelief! I’m sure it will be something they’ll remember forever.

Next up was Little Mix, who, I thought were really good. They had a great patter with the crowd and seemed to be having a great time themselves.

The highlight of the whole weekend for me was Saturday’s headline act; Duran Duran. The anticipation in the crowd before they came on stage was intense and as the instrumental strains of ‘A View to a Kill’ seeped out across the stadium heralding their imminent arrival the cheers began.


They were utterly brilliant, I loved every minute of their set. Starting with ‘Wild Boys’ they played a mix of their greatest hits along with a few new ones.

I don’t quite have the superlatives to convey how much I enjoyed it – they were stunning!

After the show they had this to say:


So did we Duran Duran, thank you!

GMF ’15 Day 2

 

There were three stages at the festival although yesterday I just stayed by the main stage after we’d set up our ‘camp’ for the day. Before settling back in the stadium we had a wander round to soak up the atmosphere.


There was a food court literally – in a basketball court! There were also craft stalls offering hair wraps and temporary tattoos among other things.


We watched a bit of local band Reach’s set on the Radio Gibraltar stage. They were really good doing covers of rock songs. It was rather bizarre to think that just a week before, we’d seen them sitting on bar stools performing outside a restaurant in Casemates Square to a small group of diners! They made a great transition from an acoustic duo to a festival rock band.


On the football pitch where I watch my son play matches was the Seaside Stage where we caught a bit of Omnibus’s set.


The pitch soon filled up as their rock anthem covers reached the ears of passers-by.

Then it was time for the family to set up camp in the stadium again just in time for Ella Henderson and James Bay, both of whom didn’t disappoint with the crowd singing along to their hits.


Next up came the Kaiser Chiefs who did a storming set, there was a great atmosphere.



As it got dark, it was time to get out the glow sticks to entertain the young ones.


Madness played a well received set on the Radio Gibraltar stage but the crowds were such that taking children there was a bit risky for losing them or getting squashed so we stayed in the main arena and listened from afar.

Sunday’s headliners were Kings of Leon. They were really good although the previous night’s entertainment meant that our boys were flagging slightly so we left shortly after they started and were serenaded on our walk to the taxi rank!


Gibraltar Music Festival is a truly great event and one which openly encourages families to attend, again offering free tickets for local children, (there was even a circus stage which we failed to visit). There were all ages represented among the crowds from young babies to grandparents. It was really well organised and just gets better and better. This hasn’t been a comprehensive review of the full weekend’s entertainment as we had three young men with us who we had to consider but what we experienced was spot on. It brings great music to Gibraltar, how many people can say Duran Duran and all the other great acts have played on their doorstep? We look ahead to GMF 2016 and watch with interest to see who comes!