Mad Cool Festival 2022 Day Four: Royal Blood, Florence + The Machine and more keep us going

See all the best bits from Saturday night, featuring Kings Of Leon, Pixies, Editors, Zara Larsson, Mura Masa, Gang Of Youths and Leon Bridges

A fourth day of a festival is a bewildering concept for some, and we’ve still got one more to go at Mad Cool 2022. Still, one mustn’t grumble when we had the likes of Royal Blood, Florence + The Machine, Pixies, Kings Of Leon, Zara Larsson and Mura Masa to keep us going with the feel-good Saturday night vibes.

Here are the best bits of what went down on day four (July 9) of Mad Cool 2022.

Words by: Sam Moore, Hannah Mylrea, Andrew Trendell, Kyann-Sian Williams, Sophie Williams

LEON BRIDGES SPREADS THE LOVE

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Leon Bridges live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Leon Bridges live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Strutting on to the stage to funky guitars and sweet jazzy sounds, Atlanta-born Texas-based crooner Leon Bridges has come out to play. And he looks good doing it: wearing a floundering polka-dotted blouse with the largest bell sleeves you’ve ever seen. The neo-soul veteran has the sound to match his look, too: like vintage vinyl playing in a speakeasy.

Love is in the air: while playing the minimalist ‘Beyond’, Bridges tells the crowd that he “loves love: I don’t love someone right now, but I love music and I love y’all”. After reassuring us of our sexiness (“y’all are so sexy”, “y’all sound so good”), we float away from his Mad Cool set with a heightened sense of self-love. KSW

GANG OF YOUTHS GIVE APATHY THE MIDDLE FINGER

Gang Of Youths live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Jaime Massieu for NME
Gang Of Youths live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Jaime Massieu for NME

“Who’s never seen us before?” asks Gang Of Youths’ Dave Le’aupepe to an impressive early evening crowd at Mad Cool’s Region Of Madrid stage. “Who’s never even fucking heard of us before? I promise we’ll massively fucking disappoint you.”

His brutal Aussie self-deprecation lies at the heart of GoY’s DNA (“Thank you for missing an infinitely better band to come watch us,” he later says to those of us who are missing Pixies to be here), but that’s not to say that he’s on a downer. From the euphoric arena indie of opener ‘Angel Of 8th Ave’ to the chest-thumping ‘The Heart Is A Muscle’ and ‘Let Me Down Easy’, the band’s spirit is infectious. For a man so solidly built, Le’aupepe’s lounge lizard dance moves can only be described as fluid. Introducing the sing-along banger ‘In The Wake Of Your Leave’, he berates those feeling “too cool to dance”, adding “now is not the time to be too apathetic to fucking move – if you think that’s cringe, you can fuck off”. Amen. AT 

PIXIES SHUT UP AND THE PLAY THE HITS

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Pixies live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Pixies live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

Things you don’t expect to see at your average Pixies gig: a man in a full green bodysuit, quite possibly in tribute to Charlie Kelly’s ‘Green Man’ alter ego in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, darting through the crowd and throwing shapes. Things you do expect to see at your average Pixies gig: hit after hit after hit. ‘Gouge Away’? Check. ‘Wave Of Mutilation’? Of course! ‘Caribou’? Naturally. No banter – just bangers.

You want more? Don’t worry: Black Francis and co. have got you, with ‘Hey’, ‘Tame’, ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ and ‘Vamos’ (which goes down particularly well with the Spanish crowd) all getting an airing during their peerless Mad Cool main stage set. Unsurprisingly, ‘Where Is My Mind?’ gets the biggest response of the night as seemingly every phone on the festival site lights up to capture the moment, before ‘Debaser’ gets everyone jumping one last time – with Green Man no doubt leading the charge down the front. SM

MURA MASA KICKS OUT THE JAMS

Mura Masa live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Mura Masa live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

The electric shock you get from Mura Masa’s pulsating pop is just what you need while cloaked under a tent at a Madrid festival. Mad Cool’s The Loop, therefore, becomes a sweat box full of tunes: not one body is standing still.

Watching one of the newest leaders of new-school pop music in action, you can see first-hand how Mura Masa’s hypnotic jams have got him to the top. You’d think he’d do a DJ set like most producers do: no. The Guernsey guy comes out with the whole shebang – keyboard, two drum kits, a guitar — like a multi-faceted rock star. Aided by a guest vocalist who hypes up the crowd even more, as well as filling in the instrumental space with the lyrics of Mura Masa’s absent collaborators, it’s the perfect concoction to throw down at Masa’s lil’ get-together. KSW

KINGS OF LEON FOLLOW THEIR HEROES

Kings Of Leon. Credit: Andres Iglesias
Kings Of Leon. Credit: Andres Iglesias

“Do you know how intimidating it is to play after Pixies?” observes Kings Of Leon vocalist Caleb Followill with a grin, as he drinks in the vast crowd before him. “We love Pixies. They taught me how to scream.” Not only do the frontman and his band have to rise to the challenge of playing right after their heroes, but they also draw in one of the largest crowds that Mad Cool has seen at this year’s festival; thousands of fans spilling out beyond the confines of the Madrid Is Life stage.

Followill and his Nashville family of rockers eschew all fireworks and instead rely on the emotional power of their enduring anthems to power through their hour-long show. Subtle rainbow lights may accidentally cut out during a soulful rendition of ‘Manhattan’, but the powerful thrash of ‘Waste A Moment’ that swiftly follows offers a greater visceral experience. There’s a layer of real grit to the group vocals displayed throughout the soaring choruses of ‘Find Me’ and ‘Milk’, while they hammer their guitars as ‘Radioactive’ begins to fade out. Even if that final eruption inevitably comes with ‘Sex On Fire’, storming newer material such as ‘The Bandit’ is evidence of a group with more than just a storied history, but a future as well. SW

ZARA LARSSON LAYS ALL HER LOVE ON US

zara larsson
Zara Larsson at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Jaime Massieu)

Over on the Region Of Madrid stage, dramatic lights are flashing, people are screaming and the bombastic opening to ‘Love Me Land’ is blasting through the speakers, which can only mean one thing: Zara Larsson is about to take to the stage. “I didn’t bring my band with me today, so you have to sing with me extra loud,” she tells the throng of revellers early on, and it’s something that is well and truly taken on-board.

Larsson pulls out all the hits for her evening show. Flanked by four dancers, she blitzes through slick choreography all while belting out a set of career-spanning tunes. From the pulsating electro-bounce of ‘I Would Like’ to the jubilant orchestral-pop of ‘Symphony’ and a throbbing cover of ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’, it’s outrageously good fun. By the time she closes with the enduring summer hit ‘Lush Life’, the crowd are sweaty, hoarse and thrilled to have watched an hour of pure pop euphoria. HM

EDITORS BOSH OUT SOME BRUMMIE DOOM

Editors
Editors at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Jaime Massieu)

​​Editors have Mad Cool in the palm of their hand as Saturday night becomes Sunday morning, drawing impressively big numbers to the festival’s modest-sized Region Of Madrid stage. The seasoned Birmingham band kick things off with their April single ‘Heart Attack’ before their synth-drenched 2009 track ‘Papillon’ inspires one big Mad Cool dance-off.

Old favourites ‘An End Has A Start’, ‘Blood’ and ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ carry on this good feeling as the set progresses, before the driving and still-sublime ‘Munich’ – which, we’re afraid to report, is now 17 years old (!) – ends the night on just the right note. SM

FLORENCE + THE MACHINE INVITES US INTO HER CULT

Florence + The Machine. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Florence + The Machine. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

It’s gone midnight in Madrid, and a constellation made from thousands of flashing phone lights is twinkling into life across the crowd over on Mad Cool’s main stage. Seeing Florence Welch perform ‘Cosmic Life’ live, aglow not just with the washes of bright light before her but a sense of unbridled joy, is like briefly entering a parallel universe where she is seen as a Messiah figure: when the London vocalist leans down to kiss the head of a fan on the barrier, they begin to sob with disbelief. It’s a beguiling, otherworldly moment.

Welch’s voice sounds clear and resonant as she runs laps across the stage in time to the euphoric rushes of both noise and emotion that define her celestial, anthemic pop. ‘My Love’ is a swell of hallucinatory disco, while the closing crescendo of ‘King’ comes off to thrilling effect. And when the crowd yells an impromptu final run through the chorus of breakout hit ‘Dog Days Are Over’, Welch looks truly overjoyed. “You are now all part of the cult of Florence + The Machine,” she tells us later, before stepping back into her dream world once more. SW

ROYAL BLOOD SPREAD A LITTLE SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Royal Blood live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME
Royal Blood live at Mad Cool 2022. Credit: Andy Ford for NME

“I’ve gotta tell ya, my mind is blown by how many fucking people are here,” Royal Blood frontman Mike Kerr tells the shedloads of revellers who fill this dusty plane of AstroTurf at a time when many usually make the early morning crawl home. “We’re here to have a lot of fun,” he continues. “Would you like to meet Ben Thatcher?” The drummer then takes a bow, regularly stalking the stage and necking tequila like he owns the place.

The dancefloor hedonism of their latest album ‘Typhoons’ turns this rock bash into a house party, with the shimmy of ‘Boilermaker’ and wedding disco strut of ‘Million And One’ spreading a nice bit of Saturday night fever. The extended bass solo of ‘Hook Line And Sinker’ and the feral ‘Little Monster’ also let the rockers get their mosh on. “Sometimes I wanna play, and sometimes I just wanna take it all in,” adds Kerr. “What I wanna say is: I fucking love you”. Mad Cool feels exactly the same. AT

Check back here at NME for the latest news, interviews, photos and more from Mad Cool 2022.

NME is an official media partner of Mad Cool Festival 2022

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