Gary Flockhart: Who needs Glastonbury when there’s Benicassim?

Alex Turner. Picture: Robert Perry
Alex Turner. Picture: Robert Perry
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THEY say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth. So when a fellow solo traveller, who I’d met just hours previously in a dive bar in Barcelona, offered me a free ticket to the Benicassim music festival, I didn’t take too much persuading.

It wasn’t exactly in the script for me to head south (the next day’s plan was to head north to Port Lligat to check out Casa Dali), but it seemed too good an offer to turn down. After all, I’d been to a Spanish music festival before in the shape of Primavera Sound, and, as regular readers of this column will know, I rate it among the best in the world.

Dali would have to wait, then.

The next morning, my new friend and I were off to Benicassim, a small, unremarkable town that lies just north of Valencia.

Feet still aching from the previous few days’ jaunts around Barcelona’s many marvels - note to self: Converse are not designed for foot-mileage - we arrived in time for Bastille to kick off day three of the festival.

I’d never previously thought much of this band, but they sounded great that night.

Next up were Kaiser Chiefs, who, with their sing-along anthems, had no trouble getting the crowd going.

Along with all the hits, they threw in a few newbies that were good enough to suggest they will be bothering the charts for some time yet.

I lost count of how many other bands I watched at Benicassim - The Courteeners, Rizzle Kicks and Everything Everything, to name three - but the highlight was undoubtedly Arctic Monkeys, who never fail to shine on the live stage. After blistering renditions of I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, Mardy Bum and RU Mine, they were joined for the encore by frontman Alex Turner’s Last Shadow Puppets bandmate, the brilliant Miles Kane.

Though my time at Benicassim was brief - just one day out the three - I left the festival in no doubt that I’ll return another year.

As they say here in Spain, ‘la vida es chula’ - life is cool.