For weeks we had been watching the preparations get underway at the Victoria Stadium, the stage had grown, the lights had gone up and on occasion we’d had a blast of a sound check as we passed by. A couple of weekends ago, MTV Presents Gibraltar Calling arrived. This year’s festival was spread over two days but unlike in previous years, it ran over Friday and Saturday rather that Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, I had a previous engagement on the Friday so I only made it to one day this year. Here’s what we got up to…
It was a rather cloudy and overcast start to the day’s entertainment as we arrived. We took a walk around before it got too busy and while there was still time to move! It wasn’t as quiet as this a few hours later…
There were two stages this year (there have been more on previous occasions) the classic stage (above) which on Friday night enjoyed performances by Sister Sledge among other acts and the Main Stage (below) which hosted bands including Texas and the Two Door Cinema Club.
You have to agree that the Rock is a pretty stunning backdrop for any occasion. The Victoria Stadium is the venue for so many community events here in Gibraltar, from the Gibraltar Football Association’s home games (after several years of having to play in Faro in Portugal) to School Sports days, and charity 24 hour sponsored walks to classical concerts.
We set up camp to the side of the pitch and soon found ourselves surrounded by friends we knew through the Little Postcards schools. The joy of this being a family themed event (tickets for under 12s are free with proof you are local resident) means that you are bound to bump into many other families you know.
Our position also gave us a great view of the camera on the long boom arm (if that’s the correct terminology). When acts were on we were less keen on, we could watch the operator and see his camera feed on the little monitor. It was rather interesting!
By the time Scouting for girls appeared on the Main stage, the crowds had grown considerably. They visited the festival 4 years ago, and delighted the fans with another great show.
The local band taxi was the highest Gibraltar band on the bill on the main stage and treated the audience to a ticker tape explosions the end of their set.
Next up was the first of the big International acts…. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. The Little Postcards had gone home by this point, leaving me free to wander around at will.
I have to admit to not being a huge fan of his before the show, but he was amazing. His voice sounded effortless despite this being the final gig in a long tour schedule, he was warm and friendly with the crowd and seemed like a genuinely nice guy.
He spent a few days in Gib ahead of his performance and won over the local community, dining out in local restaurants and posing for photos. He seems like a really nice chap, and he has an amazing voice.
It was around this time I popped over to the Classic Stage to see a bit of The Boomtown Rats… I was just in time to hear ‘I don’t like Mondays’. Perfect timing really as I think it’s the only song of theirs I know!
Next up, Rita Ora…
Another act to return to the Rock this year, Rita really brought the house down, playing tracks from her soon to be released new album, as well as chart favourites which had the crowd singing along to a poignant tribute to the late Avicii. She came across as being very happy to be back in Gibraltar again and also sang her new single live for the first time.
Then came Stormzy…
… he arrived on stage at about midnight. It was very loud, very shouty and I’m afraid not my thing so I headed off home after a couple of tracks.
We had mixed feelings ahead of the Festival this year, there was no one we particularly wanted to see. The big names weren’t our favourites but I guess you can’t have Duran Duran, Bananarama and Kaiser Chiefs every year! The whole rearrangement of the days from Saturday and Sunday to Friday and Saturday meant that many people, me included, were only able to make it to one of the days. Hopefully this will change next year.
Over all though, it was a great day out for the family, and it was great to be able to attend such a big professional show just moments from our home.
Until next year, farewell MTV!