Festival Review: Thursday @ BBK Live 2017

This was it. The Mic was abroad – from the University of Nottingham up to the peak of Kobetamendi Hill in the heart of the Basque Country, with the small matter of the 12th recurrence of the annual BBK Live Festival. Having checked the smallprint (ok, just the lineup poster) Boy Better Know were nowhere to be seen – however with Depeche Mode, The Killers and Two Door Cinema Club at the top of the bill, in terms of attracting the big names the festival, certainly at face value, outstrips its reputation and prominence on the festival scene by some margin.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now, to the first day which, weirdly, was a Thursday (I have no idea, even now. Very strange). First up, on the Heineken Stage, were Liverpool indie rockers Circa Waves. With the crowd very limited in number just ten minutes before stage time, it would have been impossible to foresee the explosive show which followed, as they raced through a frenetic set, combining elements of 2014 debut ‘Young Chasers’ and this year’s release ‘Different Creatures’ to great effect, and the response from the audience was clear, as the crowd got bigger and bigger as the set went on, closing with second single from the new record ‘Fire That Burns’ and crowd favourite – and the aptly named – ‘T-Shirt Weather’ which brought down the house and set the bar incredibly high for the bands following to emulate.

The first to try were Cage The Elephant, from Nashville, TN (as frontman Matt Shultz proclaimed upon his arrival to the stage. Their set started off – from the back at least, a little on the weak side as what may have been poor sound quality hindered opener ‘Cry Baby’ and well-known hit ‘In One Ear’. The band absolutely got stronger as the set went on however, and at the point where we left halfway through, the crowd were singing every word of popular hit ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ back at the band, giving the impression that they were at least popular amongst the attending faithful.

The reason for leaving early was no slight on the band; rather that on the much smaller ‘Ron Matusalem Stage’, Reading-based Sundara Karma were taking to the stage soon after, who proved to be one of the highlights of the whole weekend, let alone the evening. With the crowd at the end decidedly bigger than at the set’s inception and with many delaying going to watch The 1975 due to the quality of the performance, it will have done the lads no harm as their reputation not only in Britain seemingly, but also across Europe, continues to grow. Highlights were definitely ‘Olympia’, ‘Deep Relief’ and, for the first time ever anywhere, new single ‘Lahkey’.

There was just time to catch the pick of the set from The 1975 following the end of the Sundara Karma which was good enough, if not to the standard of the previous band. ‘We are subjectively the best band in the world,’ declared Matt Healy. Many of us would debate that; a horrific amount of people at the front appeared to agree! Yet, begrudgingly, it must be said that they did put on a show, in particular set closer ‘The Sound’, the hit single from their most recent record, which brought the house/stage/field down (delete as you feel appropriate).

Essex legends Depeche Mode were the final band back on the main stage closing a frenetic first day – we hadn’t stopped! All the hits got an airing, the crowd was huge, many of them born many years after Depeche Mode had hit their peak, including yours truly! Their cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ was a standout moment, and ‘Enjoy The Silence’ was everything you could hope it would be live.

The busiest day on paper proved, at least, to be busy in reality!

Thursday’s Best: Circa Waves

Thursday’s Band To Note: Sundara Karma

Thursday’s Biggest Surprise: Matt Healy only referring to The 1975 as the best band in the world ‘subjectively’. Far more modest than expected!