The last echoes of Pearl Jam’s epic set-closing rendition of ‘Rocking In The Free World’ were still hanging in the balmy Spanish night air when suddenly – from the adjacent second stage – the instantly-recognisable sound of the MGM opening credits music swelled from the speakers.
That sound announced – as it so often does – that something big was on its way. Something grand and cinematic. Then the stage lights burst on and Kasabian roared into ‘Ill Ray (The King)’ and suddenly it all made sense. Kasabian these days are a blockbuster attraction.
They’ve pulled off the key trick that any band who seeks longevity in the festival headline stakes must master: ensuring that each new album produces a few extra bangers to keep the set fresh. Their most recent album, 2017’s ‘For Crying Out Loud’ delivered that with four tracks which all shone tonight. There was the aforementioned opener, the rollicking ‘Bless This Acid House’, the exuberant ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’ and – in particular – the superb ‘Comeback Kid’ which has taken up its rightful place in the setlist’s big finale.
The band kept banter to a minimum throughout the set, taking the advice of LCD Soundsystem to shut up and play the hits. The rare exceptions were a brief: “Hello Madrid” from Tom after the opening song, an effusive “Thank you Madrid, you’ve been fucking amazing” towards the end and the dedication of closing song ‘Fire’ to “Our boy Mark Selby”, the snooker player from Leicester. Perhaps – on the day after England’s World Cup dreams died – it was a chance to shine a light on a different kind of sporting hero.
‘Fire’, as scorching as its name suggests, sent the tens of thousands of fans off happily into the heat of the Madrid night. For once this week, England’s Brave Boys had got the result they wanted.
1. Ill Ray (The King)
3. Club Foot
5. You’re in Love With a Psycho
8. Bless This Acid House
11. L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
12. Comeback Kid
13. Vlad the Impaler