Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Brussels Summer Festival 2019 - Manic Street Preachers & Giorgio Moroder

This was our second venture to Brussels for the Brussels Summer Festival. The first one had been two years before for the Pet Shop Boys where we were also lucky enough to see Goldfrapp as well. This time it was for the Manic Street Preachers. I was supposed to have seen the Manics back in 2007, together with the Smashing Pumpkins (what a line up that would have been), but the date of that particular gig coincided with a week when there were a lot of devastating forest fires in Greece. Although there was no forest fire remotely near the particular forest that the venue of the gig was located (the infamous Terra Vibe), the authorities decided that the concert should be cancelled. The Manics returned, one month later at the same venue, but I was too disillusioned to go, especially since the Smashing Pumpkins were not going to tag along. Twelve years after that, I had another chance to see them. Moreover, they are one of my girlfriend's favourite bands, so a good time was guaranteed for all. However, as with 2017 and Goldfrapp, there was once again a surprise in store. I took a look at the line-up to see what else was on, on that particular day of the festival. The Manics were third on the bill so that meant they would only play for an hour. (That was not necessarily a bad thing as we would later see). Second on the bill were Hooverphonic, in essence a local (Belgian) band who I had already seen in Athens back in 2014. This time though they would be fronted by - yet - another singer. However the biggest surprise was the person who was topping the bill that day : Giorgio Moroder! Now, Giorgio Moroder had made a comeback in 2014 declaring that "74 Is The New 24". I wouldn't normally know what to expect from a Giorgio Moroder live gig, but I had been alerted by The Electricity Club that he had assembled a band featuring extremely talented singers performing quite a lot of the hits that he had written and produced. So I knew we were in for a delightful disco party! Meanwhile, it was also announced that Giorgio Moroder would appear at a festival in Athens. He did appear, but thankfully, I didn't rely on that because it was only a DJ set, not a live gig. In Brussels we were going to get the full Monty.

The festival itself has many venues around the city, (and one can move among the different venues at any time with their ticket or "Day Pass" as it's called), but once again, like 2017 the venue for our chosen line up was Place Des Palais. And once again we were able to get all the way to the front of the stage. 

Manic Street Preachers were on time and normally they would have played the "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" album because on that particular tour they were celebrating its 20th Anniversary as James Dean Bradfield announced when they came on stage. (A special deluxe version of it had been out earlier that year). However because they would only play for an hour they would not play the whole album. I wouldn't have minded if they had, after all it's my favourite album of theirs. This meant that we would get a more balanced setlist and we did, starting with "Motorcycle Emptiness" although they did play a lot of songs from the "This Is My Truth..." album, including my all-time favourite "You Stole The Sun From My Heart". The biggest surprise though was the cover of "Sweet Child O'Mine". We had a wonderful time up there at the front with several hardcore Manics fans who had come from abroad until James Dean Bradfield told us goodbye wishing that we would "enjoy Giorgio Moroder and Electric f***ing Dreams" as he launched into "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next".

But before Giorgio Moroder would come along it was the turn of Hooverphonic. I must admit their set arrived at the appropriate moment as night fell, providing us with a relaxing time before the party that was to follow. This was the band that most people had probably come to see as they were playing in front of their home crowd. This time there was no "Sometimes", but "Mad About You" (which seems to be their most popular song in Greece), was still there.

And now it was time (although we couldn't suspect as much at the time) for the greatest disco party we had ever been to. We were being properly prepared for it while waiting for Giorgio Moroder with songs like "Daddy Cool' playing from the speakers.

Meanwhile, it had started raining. Rainfalls are quite frequent in Brussels from what I hear, but we were lucky not to experience one when we were watching Goldfrapp and Pet Shop Boys in 2014. This time we were not so lucky, however the organizers had thought of that as well ans had provided us with free ponchos so we had nothing to worry about.

While waiting, by watching the giant screens on either side of the stage, we learnt that some familiar artists were going to perform in Brussels quite a while after the festival.

Finally, Giorgio Moroder was on stage and he kicked off with - what else - Donna Summer. We were expecting a lot of Donna Summer on that night, and that's exactly what we got. The opener was "Bad Girls" and the follow-up was "a sexy song" as Giorgio announced it. It couldn't have been any other than "Love To Love You Baby". Next up was "On The Radio" one of my favourite Donna Summer songs before it was time for us to go to the movies, first with "Midnight Express" ("Chase") and then with "Top Gun" ("Danger Zone" and the obligatory "Take My Breath Away"). Then we had a mixture some of some of his solo efforts ("From Here To Eternity", "Right Here Right Now"), more movie classics ("Flashdance... What A Feeling"), a Daft Punk tribute ("Giorgio By Moroder") before coming back to Donna Summer with the pioneering "I Feel Love" (the birth of synth-pop?), "Mac Arthur Park" and "Last Dance" as the final song of the main set. 19 years before, when I was in LA and inspired by the song I visited the actual "MacArthur Park" but I must admit I was rather disappointed as it seemed quite abandoned and smelled of piss.

There was more Donna Summer during the encore with "Hot Stuff" (which also became a movie favourite many years after its release when it was featured in "The Full Monty") and finally the party came to a close with Blondie's "Call Me" (another movie favourite featured in "American Gigolo").

In short, this was the best dance party I have ever been to!. And before leaving the venue to go back to the hotel, I found some time to stop in one of the stalls and have a portion of not French, but Belgian fries...

04. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
06. You Love Us
07. A Design for Life
08. Everything Must Go
10. Tsunami
11. No Surface All Feeling

01. 2Wicky
02. Eden
03. Heartbroken
05. Romantic
06. Vinegar & Salt
08. The Night Before
09. Hiding in a Song
11. Uptight
12. One Two Three
13. Badaboum
14. Looking for Stars
15. Amalfi
03. On the Radio
04. Chase
05. Danger Zone
09. Flashdance... What a Feeling
10. Right Here, Right Now
13. Last Dance
14. Hot Stuff